By Benet Koleka TIRANA (Reuters) – 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. “Gathering date shells severely damages the underwater system, limestone rocks and coral belt, so I ask you to respect the law that bans harvesting of the mussel just as everywhere else in Europe,” the minister, Edmond Panariti, told a group of fish traders and restaurateurs last week.
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