TIRANA, August 6
Several foreign news agencies, in recent days, have tackled the problem of Albanian mussels that are decreasing in numbers each year, because of global warming. This issue is more obvious in the mussels which live on the salty waters of Lake Butrint, also known as the ‘queens of Butrint’. In the last three decades, the number of mussels collected from the ropes has dropped significantly.
For instance, if in 1990 almost 6000 tonnes of mussels, were pulled from the ropes, last year in 2018 they dropped to just 2000 tonnes, according to agriculture figures. The microorganisms of the lake, who feed on organic substances, with their activity reduce the oxygen on the waters. Plus, the heatwave that has affected all Europe, this summer, including Albania has had an impact on the mussels of Butrint too. The high temperatures on the water reached 30 degrees Celcius, and they could penetrate as deep as 2 and a half meters, which could be fatal for mussels, who cannot survive nor reproduce above 25 degrees Celcius.
One of the solutions, that the specialists suggest is to increase the amount of the cold water that comes from the Bistrica river that flows into the sea, which for the time being the process is being slowed down by two hydropower plants installed at the lagoon. Also, to raise the level of the oxygen in the water of the lake, the engineers would have to dig the channel that flows into the sea.
The government has tried recently to turn back the EU ban on Albanian mussels’ exportation, which seems profitable in terms of income for the economy but could be irreversible for mussels’ numbers. To make things worse, there have been reports that the Albanian mussels are being smuggled to the southern neighbor, Greece. With this growing global warming threatening the environment each year, it is in the hands of government, environmentalists and people themselves to set rules and protect the animals and living organisms, to help them grow in numbers, and not just fight for survival.