Sparks

Offshore mussels

 By Elisa Trincia

In front of the coast of Marina di Ravenna, in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, there is a true mussel “nature reserve.” Here, on the submerged pillars of Eni’s drilling platforms, mollusks have found the ideal habitat for natural breeding, thanks to a ban on fishing and approaching boats. These mussels, compared to those from farming, are larger and their shell, being more resistant, ensures a better conservation of the mollusc. For many years there has been an agreement between Eni and fishermen of the area to remove mussels from the submerged sections of the platforms. This collaboration has led to the creation of two cooperatives “La Romagnola” and “Conisub”, which with their 8 boats provide for the collection and sale of mollusks, establishing a true market that forms a solid base for the local economy. In 2014 a total of 7,000 tons of mussels was collected.

Offshore mussels are very good

In front of the coast of Marina di Ravenna, in Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region, there is a true mussel “nature reserve.” Here, on the submerged pillars of Eni’s drilling platforms, mollusks have found the ideal habitat for natural breeding, thanks to a ban on fishing and approaching boats, which protects environmental integrity. Ravenna mussels, their delicate taste due to the low salinity of the water, are a unique, product, given the environment in which they grow. These mussels, compared to those from farming, are larger and their shell, being more resistant, ensures a better conservation of the mollusc. They offer a good example of virtuous coexistence between fishing and drilling activities; for many years, in fact, there has been an agreement between Eni and fishermen of the area to remove mussels from the submerged sections of the platforms. This collaboration has led to the creation of two cooperatives “La Romagnola” and “Conisub”, which with their 8 boats, between 15 and 18 meters long, provide for the collection and sale of mollusks, establishing a true market that forms a solid base for the local economy.  The collection of mussels from the platforms accounts for approximately 5 percent of the regional production of these mollusks, or 20-25 percent of that of the coast of Ravenna. In 2014 a total of 7,000 tons of mussels was collected, however the harvest may always vary according to the weather and sea conditions.

“The cleaning of the platforms in the Adriatic, from Ravenna to Rimini, allows fishermen to harvest and sell approximately 10,000-12,000 tons of the product on the market,” explained Arnaldo Prati, director of the business association that owns the Fishermen’s Cooperative “La Romagnola” and the “Conisub” for mussel fishing. To emphasize the close relationship between drilling activities, environmental protection and promotion of the region, a visit was organized to the Eni platform at the end of June as part of the Marina di Ravenna Mussels Festival. Approximately two hundred people aboard three crew boats, the same boats used to transport Eni staff, attended a mussel harvesting demonstration from the legs of the offshore plant. The aim of the initiative was to show how the project for developing mussels has contributed to a constructive dialogue between the drilling, fishing and catering industries, united in their desire to develop a profitable business, from both an environmental and commercial perspective.

According to the director of Eni’s Ravenna district, Nicola Salmaso, “if the product is good, it means that, below the platforms, the environment is clean and that there is no pollution. The depths of the platforms have become oases. This is also why we partnered with the Fondazione Cetacea to indicate the presence of animals at risk, such as turtles, dolphins and small sharks.” This protected environment has become an ideal location for the recolonization of certain marine species, also thanks to rigid environmental controls, carried out by Eni and inspection authorities at the platforms. Specifically, in order to safeguard this marine area, regular monitoring is performed by the port authorities, the relevant regional environmental protection agencies, the Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) and the Institute of Marine Sciences of the National Research Council of Italy (CNR-ISMAR). This meticulous verification and protection process, based on dialogue and cooperation, brings the production and environmental industries into agreement, in addition to satisfying the palates of many mussel fans.

 

about the author
Elisa Trincia
Elisa Trincia is 29 years old and she has always loved writing and taking photos. She has been a professional journalist since 2009 and she currently work at AGI (Agenzia Giornalistica Italia) in the economics newsroom and internal communication. Her best quality? She always take on new challenges with a smile. It makes everything so much easier.