Molluscs, traders and consumers, accomplices for this ecological crime

Molluscs, traders and consumers, accomplices for this ecological crime

IBNA Special Report/Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Administration of Waters, Mr. Edmond Panariti launches an appeal to traders of date shells: Do not trade it. You will become accomplices in crime. A plan starts to be implemented for inspections in restaurants

The 2012 Albanian act on Fishing strictly forbids fishing, trading and consumption of date shells (Lithophaga lithophaga). But how much is this law complied with by fishermen and restaurant owners?

The fact that many people enjoy date shells, encourages fishermen and restaurant owners to sell it.

Kristaq is a manager in a renowned restaurant in Tirana, which mainly offers sea products. He says that date shells are one of the main products that he sells amongst other food products.

Kristaqi says that he does have information about the law which forbids the consumption of the date shell, as a very important mollusc for the underwater world, but he adds that this is a product which is in demand by customers.

“Usually we serve date shells along with other sea foods and we also accompany rice and pasta with it”-says the restaurant manager.

Although fishing and sale of date shells are forbidden in Europe, in many shops in Albania, one may find date shells imported from the EU countries.

Underwater environment under threat

Specialists in the Ministry of Agriculture, Rural Development and Administration of Waters say that molluscs, such as date shells, are important for the coral strip of Adriatic and Ionian seas.

They say that the fishing of these molluscs threatens underwater environment, especially limestone underwater rocks.

It’s the lithophaga-lithophaga mollusc or better known as the date shell, the fishing and the sale of which has a great damaging effect on the underwater environment, on the limestone rocks and coral strip of the country.

A plate of spaghetti prepared with this kind of mollusc is equivalent with the damage caused to a square meter of underwater rocks and equivalent to the damage caused to a square meter coral barriers in the coastline waters.

But do consumers have another option to replace the taste of date shell?

Adrian is a cook in a fish restaurant in the outskirts of the city of Durres. He says that there are several other options for the consumer: telines, vongolas and mussels. “These can be served in different ways, in sea food pasta or other sea food meals that we serve”, says Ardian. He adds that date shells continue to be served in the restaurant where he works and in other restaurants too, given that the application of the law is not accompanied by penalties.

General Director of the National Food Authority (AKU), Afrim Bakaj, says that a plan has been drafted by the institution that he leads in order to inspect all restaurants with the scope of stopping the sale of date shells.

Panariti calls for the consumption of date shell to be stopped

Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Administration of Waters, Mr. Edmond Panariti has had special meetings with traders and restaurant owners which deal with the distribution and sale of date shells to the consumer.

Mr. Panariti has reminded them about the 2012 act which forbids the fishing and distribution of date shells. He also said that the heads and specialists of AKU have been ordered by his ministry to apply without any hesitation the law which forbids the sale of date shells.

“I demand your cooperation for the application of the law which the same as in Europe, forbids the fishing, sale and distribution of restaurant chains with this type of mollusc. You must be clear that the fishing of this mollusc is strictly forbidden”, said Mr. Panariti.

The minister said that “the destruction of the Albanian coast cannot be allowed due to a mollusc”.

“We must give up from the fishing of date shells, because such act makes us accomplices in an irreparable ecological crime”, says Mr. Panariti while adding: “I call upon all restaurants to urgently take the date shell off their menu ”.

Restaurant owners admit that the sale of date shells continues. They say that the prohibition of fishing and sale for this product is a good incentive and given that the law forbids it, they agree with it.

Fishing in Albania faces different problems, besides unlawful sale of date shells. Fishing continues to take place with explosives and these fishes continue to be sold on the street or restaurants. Restaurant owners insist that fishes caught through explosives are not accepted in Albanian restaurants and say that they are only sold in an unlawful way on the road. They demand from AKU to do more in order to move away from the streets all those who sell fish in buckets, and where most of them have used explosives to catch them. /ibna/