Mussel, Blue – U.S.
The Blue Mussel is a marine bivalve that is found in the Arctic, North Pacific, and the North Atlantic. In North America, they are found from Labrador, Canada to North Carolina. Blue Mussels anchor to bottom substrate and form dense beds. They are an ecologically important in coastal ecosystems. They provide important habitat, serve as a food source for many species, help to remove pollutants from the water, and provide shoreline protection.
Maine has accounted for the majority of Blue Mussel catches in the U.S., but small catches of Blue Mussels also occur in Massachusetts, New York and Rhode Island. There has been limited monitoring of U.S. Blue Mussel populations so abundance and fishing mortality levels are unknown. However, declines in Blue Mussels have been reported in Maine. All states have some regulations in place to control fishing and some spatial management is used to help protect the ecological role of Blue Mussels, but more robust policies are needed.
Fishermen capture Blue Mussels with hand rakes and mussel drags (dredges). Bycatch in Blue Mussel fisheries is typically low, but mussel dredges may cause some harm to incidentally captured invertebrates. Mussel dredges also cause more damage to the bottom habitat than hand rakes, but there are measures in place to limit the impacts of dredge gear in most states.