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Innovation in goose barnacle traceability

The harvesting of goose barnacles (Pollicipes pollicipes) is an important economic activity in the Berlengas archipelago, located north of Lisbon around the Peniche peninsula. With prices fetching up to €25-30/kg (2015 prices), it provides a major source of income in local coastal communities, but is also subject to strong pressure from illegal harvesting. Although stocks are strictly monitored in order to maintain a sustainable fishery, the management tools in place are not able to ensure traceability and, therefore, cannot prevent goose barnacles collected in no-take areas entering the market. This not only threatens the sustainability of the stock but also leads to commercial losses for goose barnacle gatherers in the Berlengas area.

This project, supported by the Oeste FLAG, developed a methodology for tracing the catch area of goose barnacles, and identifying potential mislabelling or poaching activity. This methodology is based on a “mineral finger-print catalogue”, which provides the mineral composition of goose barnacles from different areas in Portugal, allowing to identify the origin of suspicious products.

The project promoter (IPLeiria, MARE-IPLeiria – Technical Institute of the University of Leiria), together with the University of Évora and the University of Aveiro, developed the methodology in collaboration with the Berlengas shellfish gatherers’ association, the Berlengas nature reserve and the municipality of Peniche. Acclaimed internationally by Nature, one of the world’s leading scientific journals, for its innovation and practical application, the project also demonstrates the benefits of science-fisheries research partnerships.


Quote from Sérgio Leandro: “This project facilitates the traceability of goose barnacles harvested in the Berlengas islands. It is an innovative method, which could easily be transferred to areas with similar issues.” 


Project information

Lead/coordinating organisation: Instituto Politécnico de Leiria

Project location: Berlengas archipelago, Oeste region, Portugal

Timeframe of implementation: May 2012 – November 2014

Total project cost: €28 174

EU contribution (EFF Axis 4): €21 130

Other public contribution (national): €7 043

FLAG supporting the project: Oeste FLAG

Contact details and links to further project information:

- First author of study: Rui Albuquerque (link to Research)

- Coordinator: Sérgio Leandro – Instituto Politecnico de Leiria
  sleandro@ipleiria.pt, Tel. +351 262 783 607

- Oeste FLAG, Peniche - Portugal, Contact: Monica Chalabardo
  gac.oeste@adepe.pt, Tel. +351 262 787 959

- Harvest locations of goose barnacles can be successfully discriminated using trace elemental signatures