The first step: know what’s up
Albania… Probably this is the only country in Europe where no brown trout from Atlantic strains have been introduced by man, ever. Here, trout come in the diversity of a dream factory’s kaleidoscope: S. marmoratus, S. ohridanus, S. letnica – three to four subspecies or forms, S. trutta – brook and lake forms, S. farioides, S. peristericus, S. montenegrinus, … Unfortunately these gems of evolution are a much threatened fish species in this country, due to the intense poaching, all year round, all over. Yet they still can be found in remote places, many of those being rather difficult to access. The main question: which trout is where, and which species (singular/plural?) are we dealing with in the Valbona basin?
For a full understanding of the current situation in the project area, scientific knowledge is –of course- the very base for working on sustainable solutions for conservation. In a previous survey, performed in 2005, the trout in the Valbona system were found to be genetically very heterogeneous. It is not known how many evolutionary lineages there are in this system, nor if these are native or perhaps introduced as is the case, for instance, in Macedonia and southern Serbia, where many a trout translocation between Adriatic and Aegean rivers have been observed. Given the high trout diversity in this area, it is of main importance to establish evolutionary significant units and also management units. Therefore it has been suggested to repeat that very survey and extend it to new sites (in the Valbona catchment and in neighbouring basins as well) which potentially hold autochthonous trout. In the mean time also the density of the trout present can be assessed. It is believed that such study, ten years after, is a prerequisite in terms of trout and habitat conservancy in the project area. Based on the results obtained at this stage, next steps will be considered.
In this project Continental Trout Conservation Fund partners with the recently established ngo EcoAlbania *. The two assured themselves of collaboration with the finest of experts. All of these do have the expertise plus the experience required to make this project a success.
Alain Crivelli – Research Director at Tour du Valat, Centre de recherche pour la conservation des zones humides méditerranéennes (France) : research coordinator
Spase Shumka – Hydrologist at the Agricultural University of Tirana (Albania) and scientific advisor of Protection and Preservation of Natural Environment in Albania (PPNEA) : field work coordinator
Aleš Snoj – Senior Research Associate at the University of Ljubljana (Slovenia); Balkan Trout Restoration Group : genetic researcher
* EcoAlbania is a joint initiative of professors of the Department of Biology of the Tirana University and Olsi Nike – participant in CTCF’s Intercontinental Trout Masterclass 2014, and head of Continental Trout-Albania since the ITM. More information:
www.ecoalbania.org (currently under construction)