- Title: ALBANIA: Minister declares war on date shell mussel trade
- Date: 4th February 2014
- Summary: VLORA, ALBANIA (FEBRUARY 2, 2014) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF THE COAST IN JALA-VLORA MUNICIPALITY VLORA, ALBANIA (UNDATED UNDERWATER FOOTAGE OF DIVER IGLI PUSTINA) ==MUTE== SCUBA DIVER/ FISH SCHOOLING FISH SHOALING CORAL REEF LOBSTER HIDING IN THE REEF FISH SHOALING SCUBA DIVER DIVING TWO SCUBA DIVERS INSPECTING THE REEF TIRANA, ALBANIA (JANUARY 31, 2014) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) DIVER, IGLI PUSTINA, SAYING: "I think that it was about time for this new law to come into power and act to protect the Albanian fauna, against the dynamite usage because it is being used everywhere for fishing and mussel extraction. It is a total destruction." TIRANA, ALBANIA (JANUARY 28, 2014) (REUTERS) PEOPLE PASS BY THE ALBANIAN MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND WATER ADMINISTRATION SIGN READING :" REPUBLIC OF ALBANIA: MINISTRY OF AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND WATER ADMINISTRATION" ALBANIAN MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND WATER ADMINISTRATION, EDMOND PANARITI ARRIVES TO MEET THE REPRESENTATIVES OF FISHING INDUSTRY (SOUNDBITE) (Albanian) ALBANIAN MINISTER OF AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT AND WATER ADMINISTRATION, EDMOND PANARITI, SAYING: "Allow me to raise attention in this meeting to all the operators in this field that under no circumstances they should allow gathering sea products and in particular date shells as its harvest severely damages the underwater system, limestone rocks and coral belt,"
- Embargoed: 19th February 2014 12:00
- Location: Albania
- Country: Albania
- Topics: General
- Reuters ID: LVA4M7PPFQ1Z7WJ7VDHT37UW6PNI
- Story Text: Albania's fisheries minister has declared war on a thriving black market in date shell mussels, vowing to enforce a widely flouted ban on harvesting of the endangered species in the hope of saving his country's Adriatic seabed.
The mussels, oblong-shaped like their fruity namesake the Arabian date, are harvested by divers who inflict untold damage on the ecosystem by using hammers and chisels to extract them from rocks and coral reefs.
Albania's former communist regime outlawed the harvesting of date mussels but the delicacy has been openly sold, served and eaten during two decades of democracy despite the continued ban.
"I think that it was about time for this new law to come into power and act to protect the Albanian fauna against the dynamite usage because it is being used everywhere for fishing and mussel extraction. It is a total destruction," said diver Igli Pustina.
Fishery minister Edmond Panariti, who took office in September, first vowed last month to halt the "barbaric" trade, but was dismissed as naive and openly defied two days later by a fellow cabinet minister who dined on date shells at a Tirana restaurant, an aide said.
Undeterred, Panariti has now redoubled his efforts, promising arrest and trial for anybody who flouts the ban.
"Allow me to raise attention in this meeting to all the operators in this field that under no circumstances they should allow gathering sea products and in particular date shells as its harvest severely damages the underwater system, limestone rocks and coral belt," the minister told a group of fish traders and restaurateurs last week.
We cannot allow them to turn our coast into a desert, he said of the harvesters, noting that one square metre of rock or coral reef is destroyed for every plate of date shell spaghetti.
The harvesting of date shells is banned along the whole Adriatic coast, with the exception of a thin strip of sea that belongs to Bosnia. In the Bosnian capital Sarajevo, one online seafood shop offers home delivery at just over $30 per kg.
They are hard to find in European Union member states Slovenia and Croatia, where offenders face fines of hundreds of euros. But they can still be enjoyed in secrecy by those in the know in Montenegro.
In the Albanian coastal town of Vlora at the weekend, a plate of spaghetti with date shells featured on a restaurant menu for 800 leks ($7.6) and risotto for 900 leks.
Gjergj Luca, a major Albanian trader in seafood, told Reuters: "Our problem is that we first destroy our fauna and then remind ourselves we need to save it. I congratulate my friends at the ministry for raising this problem that certainly has to be eliminated because it is completely destroying the fauna. But, I consider that alongside this problem other problems that are bigger than date shells should be raised: like dynamite usage in fishing which is completely destroying the Albanian fauna and nobody is taking responsibility for this."
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2014. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: None