The owners found specimens of the Apennine trout (Trota fario apenninica del Casentino) in the Camaldoli ditch (Fosso di Camaldoli), so now they can focus on its reproduction. “This is a wild species, it feeds on earthworms but not on feeds, and it’s therefore difficult to make the fishes put on weight. We started with about twenty specimens, today there are sixty” explains Andrea, while he throws handfuls of earthworms to the fishes.

Insects are gathered in one of the tanks in Molin di Bucchio, which will be restored in spring 2020. Moreover, the cooperative members are also considering funding some structural works, i.e. the reconstruction of two sections of the wall and the building of a new foundation to waterproof the floor, through crowdfunding. The restoration of the tanks already in operation was paid for by the profits of In Quiete’s activity, as well as funds granted by the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF) amounting to approximately €30,000. The project was recognised as one of the 2019 best practices and the EU Directorate-General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries decided to shoot a video to promote this initiative just in Molin di Bucchio. “Now, helped by a consultant, we are drawing up a project as part of the LIFE programme, the EU’s programme that funds activities aimed at protecting nature and the environment. Conservation projects need public support, and our relations with the Italian authorities are not always idyllic”, says Andrea.

While waiting to have available the Apennine Trout, In Quiete is currently selling on the market specimens of Atlantic Trout, bred applying the methods of organic farming. The diet is light, because it is not aimed at fattening up the fishes quickly. “In two years, we never had to deal with any diseases”, says Andrea, and the quality of this product is also acknowledged by consumers, starting from two among the best restaurants in the area, Mater in Poppi and Perbacco in Pieve a Presciano, both in the province of Arezzo. “The chefs that have chosen our trout came to visit our farm, we gave them some samples, and now they are placing regular orders. After the spring (2020, Author’s Note) we will be ready to start selling directly to the public, too” announces Andrea.

The Apennine Trout

For years, almost all over Italy, including in the Casentino area, projects for the repopulation of rivers and streams focused on common Salmo trutta fario (the river trout), a species including a wide range of varieties. “No genetics-based methods were ever applied”, explains Andrea Gambassini.

In most water streams, the pure, endemic Apennine Trout no longer exists. “For us it is important to be able to reproduce and sell this species. This is why we went to the ditch near the Camaldoli hermitage looking for wild fishes. We took around a hundred specimens. We cut off a small piece of fin, we sent it to ISPRA for a genetic analysis, and we threw the fishes back into the pond. 28 of them were selected, but we were able to recover only 20 of them. Last year we “squeezed” them (letting out the egg – which is produced only once a year – by massaging the fish abdomen, Author’s Note) and made them reproduce inside our hatchery. Today, there are about sixty specimens” concludes Andrea.

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