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Before You Forage: Mussels

Everything you need to know to forage for mussels
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Everything you need to know to forage for mussels

Blue mussels are a type of edible bivalve found in cold coastal waters. These orange-fleshed, blue-shelled mollusks are high in vitamin B and iron. Mussels and other bivalves feed by filtering water throughout their body. Bivalves, including mussels, can be deadly if consumed during red tide conditions.

You can forage for mussels along the California coast legally with a California fishing license. The legal daily limit for mussels is 10 pounds and you must carry a scale with you. Do not use tools to scrape mussels off rocks. This damages the mussel beds and is prohibited for mussel collecting. Instead, get a sturdy pair of gloves to twist and yank the mussel free from its byssal thread attachments (also known as beards) that secure it onto rocks.

Mussel gathering is prohibited in Humboldt County every year from May 1 to October 31 due to the warmer climate during this time, which facilitates the proper conditions for toxic algae blooms. Mussel quarantine may vary year to year. Always call the shellfish bio-toxin hotline before you plan on foraging.

Bio-toxin information line: (800) 553-4133 shellfish toxins/quarantine information

Editors note: This article previously stated an incorrect limit on mussel harvesting and has been corrected. We have updated information about mussel quarantine. Updated January 21, 2021

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2 Comments

  1. Pete Pete Sunday, May 17, 2020

    The daily bag limit for mussels collected in California is 10 pounds, not 40 pounds as reported by Chelsea Wood

  2. Graciela Tiscareño-Sato Graciela Tiscareño-Sato Wednesday, January 13, 2021

    Chelsea, Why would you include ERRONEOUS information that’s so easy to find? The daily bag limit for mussels is 10 pounds… not 40.

    Fix this please. Sheesh.

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