Principal Investigator
Carlos Antunes

Leader Institution

Research Teams


FEEL: Fighting illegal trade of glass-eel, Anguilla anguilla: Chemical weapons

European reports stated that Anguilla anguilla population has declined in most areas to unsafe biological limits and current fisheries are not sustainable. Indeed, European eel is considered a critically endangered species since the 70’s and is in the “IUCN Red List” since 2010. Glass eel fishery is very restricted in Europe, but illegal captures and international parallel trade are important threats to eel stocks due their high commercial value (up to 1800€/kg). The main hypothesis of this study is: Glass eels from each estuary have unique chemical profiles according to the ecological quality of the habitat. These unique chemical fingerprints will be assessed by revolutionary Chemical Integrating Approaches (CIA) based on multi-elements (macro, trace and ultra-trace metals), global metabolomes and stable isotopes analyses. Thus, CIA will be effective chemical “weapons” to: (i) fingerprint wild glass eels; (ii) fingerprint aquaculture glass eels; (iii) authenticate, rastreabilite and certificate glass eels; (iv) fight illegal trade of juvenile European eels. In the end, using CIA's information associated with commercial technological features, we will have a laboratory prototype of new Chemical "Weapons" based on a compact "Portable Field Kit": metals handheld photometer, metabolomes handheld FTIR and stable isotopes field-IRMS. This proposal will develop fast, innovate and no-expensive chemical “weapons” that will help restoring eel stocks to safe levels.