We have seen it with our own eyes: there are trout in Albania, indeed/of course. We not only saw them, we happened to catch quite a few, on the artificial fly, using electroshock fishing equipment, and even with a net when snorkelling. From most of these fish we took samples (fin clips), as we did from some trout gathered by local fishermen using techniques we prefer to not go into, yet definitely hope to ban soon. We managed to do so in two different catchments in the north of Albania: the Valbona river system and that of the Cemi river, near the border with Montenegro. Further examination of the genetic material should, as is expected, answer the question which Shqipërian trout we are dealing with, in either system.
Collecting samples was not the only purpose of this visit. It was just as important to get a better understanding of the areas’ potential for a project that combines trout/habitat conservation and the establishment of eco-tourism in that very habitat. To this end many a meeting had been arranged with representatives of scientific institutes and of managerial bodies; local, regional and national ones. Also we had the opportunity to discuss our intentions with pioneers already involved in ecotourism locally, yet from a different approach, and with the inhabitants of both valleys too. And, during a special event the last evening, in Tirana, we met lots of young enthusiasts, all willing to support our ideas and to assist in order to make a change happen, and –even better- to be part of that change. It is with these impressions that we can move on: draft a solid project proposal with focus on the importance of protecting and promoting the environment and the natural heritage that will benefit the trout, the ecosystems concerned, and the people in the respective valleys.
On behalf of the team we would like to thank everyone in Albania for the warm welcome we received, for their cooperation, and for the faith they expressed in the approach we proposed. A special word of thanks goes to Olsi Nika, who proved to be a truly fantastic guide in (t)his amazing country.
Photo: Carlos Rodriquez (bichoproducciones.es)