Native clams return to Sicilian lake after 30-year absence

LAKE GANZIRRI, Italy (Reuters) - Local clams and mussels are on the comeback in homes and restaurants in the Messina area of the southern Italian island of Sicily after a 30-year absence caused by high pollution levels in Lake Ganzirri.

More than 1,000 kilograms (2,400 pounds) are fished daily out of the lake, which the regional health department declared contamination-free a year ago after an extended clean-up, meaning its molluscs are safe to eat again.

Using the same basic equipment common hundreds of years ago, including wooden rowing boats and rakes with nets attached, 30 people work to collect the molluscs.

"It's a really important achievement as it has created jobs for young people in the area," Salvatore Ruello, chairman of Great Lake Ganzirri Co-operative, who restarted the production, told Reuters. "Now this ancient activity will be recognized not only locally but further afield."

When cleaned and sorted, the clams and mussels go on sale in local markets with many ending up in the traditional dish of "spaghetti alle vongole" or spaghetti with clams.