Mussel farming is an extensive production system. The activities mainly consist of harvesting mussel seed, setting the seed out in farming areas, and harvesting the mussels after about two years. Dutch mussel and oyster farmers can have these business operations certified as organic by Skal. After a positive certification decision, the Dutch oysters and mussels may be sold as organic. Organic aquaculture ensures the conservation of biodiversity in natural water ecosystems and the sustainable conservation of the health of the water environment and the quality of the surrounding land and water ecosystems.
The areas where organic mussels and oysters grow must be of a very high ecological quality.
The organic production of bivalve molluscs must take place in an area demarcated with posts, buoys, or other clear beacons. Diving birds must not be harmed by anti-predator nets.
Wild seed from outside the boundaries of the production unit can be used provided that this practice does not cause significant damage to the environment and if permitted by local legislation and provided the seed comes from:
a. settlement beds which are unlikely to survive winter weather or are surplus to requirements, or
b. natural settlement of shellfish seed on collectors.
Records shall be kept of how, where, and when wild seed was collected to allow traceability back to the collection area.
European legislation concerning bivalve molluscs can be found in Article 15 d and e of Regulation (EC) No. 834/2007: basic legislation (PDF) and in Article 25 of Regulation (EC) No. 889/2008: provisions governing implementation (PDF)
In order to sell mussels and oysters as organic, the entire chain (both the farmer and the processor/trader) must be certified.