Buzëtrashi i Vjosës
The thick-lipped fish of Vjosa, or buzëtrashi i Vjosës, is called in this name because of its unique appearance. It is found mainly in the upper part of the Vjosa River in the Përmet region of southern Albania. It can be distinguished from other fish because of its upper lip, which is thicker than the lower one. This feature relates to the way this fish searches for its food by moving stones under the water with its strong upper lip. Its diet is composed of some types of worms that grow under the stones and rocks, moss and other food offered by the river.
The buzëtrashi i Vjosës can be found along riverbeds in cold waters. In winter, it stays in oxygen-rich deeper waters, and in summer moves to areas where the river’s flow is strongest. This species’ breeding period depends on the age of the fish. Older fish start breeding early and release their eggs in mid of February or first week of March, while smaller fish release their eggs by the end of July. They prefer to release their eggs in streams and small rivers where the temperature remains consistently about 19°C. This fish has a long and thin body shape and the area fishermen say that its maximum weight is 2.5 kg and maximum length approximately 60 cm.
The Thick-Lipped fish is caught using artisanal methods, including with rods and nets. It can be cooked in various ways. Smaller fish (under 300 grams) are often fried, fish between 200 and 700 grams are often cooked on the grill, and larger fish (over 800 grams) are usually baked in the oven along with onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaves and spices. The heads and tails are used to make soups. Buzëtrashi i Vjosës fish are usually caught for personal consumption, but can be requested in markets and restaurants with advance notice to the fishermen.
Because exploitation of common resources is a general problem in Albania today, fishing in the Vjosa River is poorly regulated and even more poorly managed. Unfortunately, fishing is also being carried out with very unsustainable means, such as dynamite, and no specific reproductive areas have been identified and protected so far. Pollution of the river, although still limited, is increasing, and increasingly damaging the flora and fauna of the Vjosa River, including the populations of buzëtrashi i Vjosës