Heavy metal contamination in European conger (Conger conger, Linnaeus 1758) along the coastline of Morocco
In Morocco, fish is an important protein source especially, even not exclusively, for coastal communities and marketed fresh all along the coastline. One of the main targets of coastal artisanal fisheries is the European conger (Conger conger, Linnaeus 1758), a widely distributed benthic predatory species of a maximum weight of up to 50 kg. However, information on heavy metal contamination of conger is scarce. Therefore, concentrations of mercury, lead and cadmium were analysed in 108 European conger specimens from nine locations along the along the Atlantic and Mediterranean coasts of Morocco to describe the spatial distribution of heavy metal contamination.
The average heavy metal concentration in all conger samples under investigation was 246.90?±?216.83 µg mercury/kg wet mass, 74.14?±?87.02 µg lead/kg wet mass and 255.12?±?287.15 µg cadmium/kg wet mass respectively. Mercury and cadmium showed a clear site-specific bioaccumulation in European conger but lead does not. Hence, the effect of fish length bias on contamination was corrected through a generalized linear model (GLM) prior to any spatial comparison.
Different regional hotspots for the three analysed metals are identified and local sources are discussed. Mercury levels in big specimens of European conger exceeded the European threshold level for human consumption at some of the locations under investigation.