Cleaning up seas using blue growth initiatives: Mussel farming for eutrophication control in the Baltic Sea

Jonne Kotta, Martyn Futter, Ants Kaasik, Kiran Liversage, Merli Rätsep, Francisco Barboza, Lena Bergström, Per Bergström, Ivo Bobsien, Eliecer Díaz, Kristjan Herkül, Per R. Jonsson, Samuli Korpinen, Patrik Kraufvelin, Peter Krost, Odd Lindahl, Mats Lindegarth, Maren Moltke Lyngsgaard, Martina Mühl, Antonia Nyström SandmanHelen Orav-Kotta, Marina Orlova, Henrik Skov, Jouko Rissanen, Andrius Siaulys, Aleksandar Vidakovic, Elina Virtanen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

58 Citations (Scopus)
37 Downloads (Pure)


Eutrophication is a serious threat to aquatic ecosystems globally with pronounced negative effects in the Baltic and other semi-enclosed estuaries and regional seas, where algal growth associated with excess nutrients causes widespread oxygen free “dead zones” and other threats to sustainability. Decades of policy initiatives to reduce external (land-based and atmospheric) nutrient loads have so far failed to control Baltic Sea eutrophication, which is compounded by significant internal release of legacy phosphorus (P) and biological nitrogen (N) fixation. Farming and harvesting of the native mussel species (Mytilus edulis/trossulus) is a promising internal measure for eutrophication control in the brackish Baltic Sea. Mussels from the more saline outer Baltic had higher N and P content than those from either the inner or central Baltic. Despite their relatively low nutrient content, harvesting farmed mussels from the central Baltic can be a cost-effective complement to land-based measures needed to reach eutrophication status targets and is an important contributor to circularity. Cost effectiveness of nutrient removal is more dependent on farm type than mussel nutrient content, suggesting the need for additional development of farm technology. Furthermore, current regulations are not sufficiently conducive to implementation of internal measures, and may constitute a bottleneck for reaching eutrophication status targets in the Baltic Sea and elsewhere.

Original languageEnglish
Article number136144
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 20 Mar 2020
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


Dive into the research topics of 'Cleaning up seas using blue growth initiatives: Mussel farming for eutrophication control in the Baltic Sea'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this