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Freshwater Mussel Propagation for Restoration

SEPTEMBER 28, 2018 — Freshwater mussels are globally imperiled.  Three hundred species are known from North America.  In the U.S., 74% of freshwater mussels are imperiled, 73% are endangered, threatened or species of special concern and about 12% are assumed extinct. 

Like marine shellfish, freshwater mussels may be injured by the release of oil and hazardous substances or destroyed by remedial actions. For example, freshwater mussels were crushed by response actions associated with the Michigan Enbridge oil spill (Kalamazoo River in July 2010) and mussel demographics may have also been adversely impacted by oil discharge. At Superfund Sites, such as the Hudson and Grasse Rivers, freshwater mussels will be or have been destroyed by remedial dredging, backfill and capping. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Conservation Training Center offers courses in freshwater mussel conservation and propagation. During the week of September 23, 2018, ARD staff attended the freshwater mussel propagation course. Classroom lectures, virtual and in-person mussel hatchery tours, and laboratory exercises covered a wide range of topics ranging from the biology of mussels, brood stock and host fish collection and care, culture, grow out and release techniques, monitoring, and construction of a new or retrofit of an existing facility. Translocation of adults and/or mussel propagation using a fish host or through in-vitro techniques (no host) can be used to recover protected species, for mitigation, and to resolve environmental liability arising from natural resource damages.

For further information, contact Lisa.Rosman@noaa.gov.

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