The fan mussel (pinna nobilis) is a giant mollusc that is native to the
Mediterranean. This sea creature has a shell that can grow up to 1.2 metres
long. However, its future is looking insecure as they have been dying out in
large numbers due to an infectious disease. Such is the extent of the concern
that a meeting was held by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and
Environment (MAPAMA) and other organisations such as the Spanish
Institute of Oceanography and the Marine Research Centre.
MAPAMA have explained that recent months have seen the death of large
numbers of the mussel in Almeria, Murcia, Torrevieja, Ibiza and Formentera.
Many of the molluscs have been affected along the coastlines of Anadalucía,
Región de Murcia, Comunidad Valenciana and the Ballearic Isles.
Samples of the dead molluscs have been taken for analysis to find out what is
causing the problem. It is believed to be a virus that has caused the rise in the
mortality rate. At the emergency meeting it was agreed to begin removing
those healthy molluscs off the Catalan coast which have not yet been
affected. These will then be taken to special centres where a programme of
captive breeding will take place.
Genetic studies will also be carried out on the mussel and the areas of
shoreline where the virus has been spreading. It is hoped to get more
information and possible solutions from those mussels that appear to have
been resistant to infection. On a positive note, this particular breed was
selected at the end of 2016 as ‘Mollusc of the Year 2017’ in order to raise
awareness.