Murder of the mussel

Yes, it does say murder. Our nation has been renowned for it’s mussels for ages, as ‘Zeeuwse Mosselen’ are world famous for their taste and fat.
Dutch mussels differ from all other mussels as they are treated well in every stage of their life, to benefit both the fishers and consumers and the mussels.

Nowadays, all production involving livestock has to be ‘durable’ (‘Duurzaam’) yet it has remained unclear for about half a century now what it means exactly. One can only guess it involves a humane life for the animals, no destructive impact on the (direct) environment and perhaps even fair pricespaid to the producers. All’s fair, yet the unclear definition has lead to environmentalist groups prosecuting all types of animal industry. The mussel is the newest in a row.

In my opinion, the production of mussels ís durable. For three or four generations, Dutch have fished for mussels in the Waddenzee, and all this time it has been good for both the fishermen (who made nice profits) and the mussels (the population is comparable in size, both total and per mussel, and location). The fishermen involved practice a type of gardening: small mussels are relocated to pieces of sea where they grow faster and to bigger sizes. These are then taken out of the water to be consumed whenever they are the appropriate size, but only after being placed in the Westerschelde for a relative short period of time to loose all the sand. After all, they are ‘Zeeuwse mosselen’.

Another example is the following: before the mussel-production was forcefully transferred from the Oosterschelde to the Waddenzee about 50 years ago, (the Oosterschelde was closed off from the North Sea due to the protection of our shore with the DeltaWerken) there were no Common Eiders on the Waddenzee. They now live and prosper there, diversification of an indigenous specie as a result of mussels.

The first week of March has been catastrophic for those involved in the production of mussels. The most influential advisory council in The Netherlands (Council of State) has withdrawn the semi-annual permit issued by the ministry of agriculture after lobbying by environmentalist groups. What’s ironic is that Vogelbescherming and the Waddenvereniging both also cheered after the withdrawal. No more production means less bird on the Waddenzee, what’s to cheer?

For 2008 and 2009, the production of mussels is available, yet limited. Starting in 2010, there will not be any Dutch mussels available. Possibly ever. The best mussels will be lost, and for what cause? That is still unclear, yet there is a connection to be found: dhr. W. van Dieren, who possibly made a deal with NAM to abolish the production of Cockles and Mussels in exchange for the drilling for oil in the Waddenzee. This is speculation, but the appearance of the member of ‘The Club of Rome’ is quite possibly not coincidental.