The Life Muscles Project
Every year in Italy over 70,000 tons of mussels are sold and since there is no need to feed them, the environmental impact of mussel farming is practically nil: 0.252 kg of CO2 equivalent for each kg of mussels produced against over 18 kg of CO2 equivalent products per kilogram of beef. Despite such a favorable balance, mussel farming creates a couple of problems: a persistent accumulation of physiological residues can form on the underlying seabed, but above all the dispersion of the plastic nets used for farming is the most obvious problem.
According to an informal survey conducted by Rom Plastica, through interviews with mussel farmers in the Chioggia area, an average of 25-30% of mussels and therefore of polypropylene (PP) socks is lost in the sea every year in the upper Adriatic due to natural causes (storm surges). Not considering the voluntary abandonment of PP socks at sea which certainly occurs but no data are available, we can estimate one annual dispersion between 7.88 and 9.45 tons of PP socks in the 2 areas of the project.
The general objective of the MUSCLES project is to contribute to the reduction of the impact caused by the dispersion in the marine environment of the nets used in mussel farms.
The project has a duration of 4 years – from October 2021 to September 2025 – and a value of about 3 M€, of which 1.6 M€ financed by the EU within the LIFE Environment projects.
The project partners are: Legambiente (lead partner), University of Bologna, La Sapienza University of Rome (Department of Chemistry), University of Siena, Mediterranean Aquaculture Association (AMA), Novamont, Rom Plastica, Del Giudice Agricultural Fish Society (Gargano) and Cooperative Mussel Farmers Associates (La Spezia).