Exploring the drivers and sustainers of European eel trafficking

The aim of Dr Laura Gutierrez's study is to explore the drivers and sustainers of the illegal trade in the critically endangered European eel, analysing this phenomenon through the complementary lenses offered by criminology and political ecology.

Dr. Laura Gutiérrez will be studying the trade (both legal and illegal) of the European eel. The aim of this project is to understand what drives and sustains this business, and what informs responses to the critically endangered state of this species.

Laura will be exploring three main questions:

  • What has characterised the relationships between humans and eels in the past decades, and how have these relationships shaped the current state of endangerment/conservation of the species?
  • How is the illegal trade of European eels facilitated by both legal and illegal actors? 
  • How is the European eel perceived by humans in terms of species charisma and how do these perceptions affect conservation efforts?

The study will gather data from experts and stakeholders in several European countries such as the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. Laura’s research project will make empirical and theoretical contributions to our understanding of the European eel trade and help inform measures to protect the species.