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Shortage of Dutch mussel hits Belgian bellies

Published on 04/05/2004

4 May 2004

BRUSSELS – Lovers of Belgium’s legendary national dish, mussels and chips, are in for a shock this year because of a chronic shortage of the much-loved little black molluscs, seafood producers warned on Tuesday.

Growers based on the North Sea coast of the Netherlands, where most of the mussels destined for Belgian tables are raised, say this year’s harvest will be nowhere near big enough to satisfy demand.

The growers expect to harvest around 50 million kilos of mussels this year, a figure that represents only half the quantity usually needed to stock fish markets not only in Belgium but also further afield.

According to the Dutch office for seafood products, a lack of young mussels and strict new rules on fishing the molluscs are to blame for the shortage, which will apparently hit growers on the Netherlands’ Zeeland coast particularly hard.

“In June the mussel growers will be able to let us know when the next harvest of Zeeland mussels will arrive,” said Ron Barbe, president of the mussel sellers’ association in the Dutch town of Yerseke.

“Nature will play a decisive role in determining the quality of the mussels. Like last year there will not be huge harvests at the beginning of the season,” he added.

In other words, mussels are not going to be cheap this year.

This is the fourth year in a row that has seen below average mussel harvests.

[Copyright Expatica 2004]

Subject: Belgian news + Dutch news