Wales’ only producer of rope-grown mussels

Author: Melony Nichols

Location: Queen's Dock, Swansea, Wales

Thomas Shellfish Ltd. is a family-run business that has been farming mussels for over 20 years, on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. They believe that looking after the environment is not only good for society and future generations, but also for the health and quality of the mussels they produce and the waters they farm in; it is therefore paramount to the future success of their business.

They are Wales’ only producer of rope-grown mussels (Mytilus Edulis). This environmentally sustainable method of farming produces mussels with a clean, dark shell, which is free from grit, as the mussels never come into contact with the seabed.

The business idea came from family visits to France, in the early nineties, when they noticed the huge demand for mussels. They knew that there was an abundance of mussels off the West Wales coast and soon they secured the rights to farm mussels in Swansea Bay.

The Queen’s Dock in Swansea, where they farm, was certified as an Aquaculture Production Site by CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences) in 2011. With the clean, nutrient rich waters of the Atlantic flowing in and out of the sheltered dock, it is an ideal environment for farming mussels. They expect to produce over 600 tonnes of mussels from this site each year. These waters typically produce mussels with a high meat yield of between 25% and 30%.