Species

Atlantic Herring

The fish in your product is Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus). They are among the most abundant fish species in the world, and reproduce quickly, reaching maturity by age four.

Atlantic herring can be found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Herring migrate in large schools along the coast of North America, ranging from North Carolina up through Canada. They are also found in the northeast Atlantic and in North and Baltic Seas.

Size

They are small, silvery fish that can grow be up to 14 inches (35 cm) long.

More Info

They are filter feeders, and feed exclusively on plankton. Populations of Atlantic herring are important components of the food chains in the Northern Atlantic Ocean because of their small size and large numbers. Many groundfish species eat herring eggs, and the herring themselves are food for many marine mammals, seabirds, and larger fish.

Click here to learn more about herring, visit the NOAA Fishwatch page.

Pacific Herring

The fish in your product is Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), one of a number of species approved for sale as sardines.

Pacific herring range from the western Pacific Ocean from the eastern coasts of Kamchatka, south to Japan and west coast of Korea and in the eastern Pacific from the Beaufort Sea in Alaska south to northern Baja California, Mexico.

Size

Pacific herring have a blue-green upper body with silvery sides, large scales and deeply forked tails. They can grow to 18 inches (45 cm) in length, but 9 inches (23 cm) is considered a large Pacific Herring.

More Info

Pacific herring travel in large schools. Pacific herring travel to inshore waters to spawn then migrate back to offshore waters to feed. They tend to stay near the bottom during the daylight hours and move to shallow waters to feed at night. Young herring feed mainly on crustaceans and adults consume mostly large crustaceans and small fish.

European pilchard

The fish in your product is European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus), one of a number of species approved for sale as sardines. Pilchards are found from Iceland and the North Sea in the north to waters off of Mauritania and Senegal in the south. They are also found in the Mediterranean Sea and around the Canary Islands and Cape Verde.

Size

They are small, silvery fish that can grow be up to 10 inches (25 cm) long. They live approximately four years, and reproduce quickly, maturing from the age of one.

More Info

The fish form schools, usually at depths of 25 to 55 meters and as deep as 100 meters during the day. During the night they move closer to the surface. They feed mainly on plankton crustaceans. Commercial fisheries harvesting the fish market it them to fresh, frozen, and canned markets. They are enjoyed dried or salted and smoked, pan-fried and broiled.

To learn more about pilchards, visit Fishbase.org

European sprat

The fish in your product is European Sprat (sprattus sprattus). They are found widely in the North East Atlantic area. Sprat is a relatively short-lived species. Most of the stock and catches are young fish of one to two years old.

Size

They are small, silvery fish that grow to a length of 5 or 6 inches (15 cm).

More Info

They feed exclusively on planktonic crustaceans and typically move to the surface at night. They usually school inshore, sometimes entering estuaries (especially the juveniles) and can tolerate low salinity levels. They regularly migrate between winter feeding and summer spawning grounds.

Fishery Location

Canadian Weir Fishery

The herring in your product was caught in weirs in the coastal waters of New Brunswick, Canada.

Scientists believe the fish caught in the weirs in coastal New Brunswick come from the U.S. Gulf of Maine fishery and assume a specific level of catch in weirs each year.

Herring stocks in the northwest Atlantic traverse the border between Canada and the United States.

Fisheries Management

The stocks are managed through the combined efforts of the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and the United States National Marine Fisheries Service.

Each national organization manages fisheries within its boundaries. Additionally, a cross border organization called the U.S. / Canada Transboundary Resource Advisory Committee (TRAC) has been established to provide guidance to fishery managers on transboundary fish stocks.

Stock Status

The 2012 NOAA stock assessment of the U.S. Gulf of Maine herring stock complex includes New Brunswick weir catches and concluded that the stock was healthy as it is not in an overfished state and overfishing relative to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is not occurring.

To see the 2012 Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Report, click here.

Bay of Fundy Purse Seine Fishery

The herring in your product was caught in waters of the Bay of Fundy.

Bay of Fundy or southwest Nova Scotia is off the east coast of Canada and herring is caught by Canadian fishing vessels.

As of 2015, the Bay of Fundy purse seine fishery entered full Marine Stewardship Council certification process. Progress can be tracked here.

Fisheries Management

The Canadian DFO is responsible for the management of this fishery. Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits are utilized to manage the fishery along with an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system that allocates the quota to licensed quota holders.

Stock Status

The TAC for this stock has ranged between 50 – 55 thousand metric tons since 2005. Based on continued concerns and to bolster the efforts to rebuild the stock, in 2013 the DFO Rebuilding Plan implemented additional conservation measures that include minimum size catch, limit on catch of juveniles, and various time/area closures.


Click here for a summary of the most recent stock assessment.

Northeast United States

The herring in your product was caught in waters off the Northeast coast of the United States and by American fishing vessels.

The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 2013-2015 was increased by almost 20% to 107,800 tons based on health of the fishery.

Fisheries Management

The United States National Marine Fishery Service (NMFS) is responsible for the management of the fishery and utilizes total allowable catch (TAC) limits for the fishery.

Stock Status

The 2012 NOAA stock assessment of the U.S. herring stock concluded that the stock was healthy as it is not in an overfished state and overfishing relative to Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY) is not occurring.


To see the 2012 Northeast Regional Stock Assessment Report, click here.

Newfoundland Sardines Fishery

The herring in your product were caught in Newfoundland, Canada.

The Newfoundland waters are off the south and west coast and your herring product was caught by Canadian fishing vessels.

The commercial fishery has established seasons and catch of juvenile fish is prohibited.

Fisheries Management

The Canadian DFO is responsible for the management of this fishery. Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits are utilized to manage the fishery along with an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system that allocates the quota to licensed quota holders.

Stock Status

The TAC for this stock is 12,700 metric tons. Recent catches have been well below this level.

Click here for a summary of the most recent stock assessment.

Gulf of St. Lawrence Sardines Fishery

The herring in your product were caught in Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence waters are off of the southern coast and your herring product was caught by Canadian fishing vessels.

The commercial fishery has established seasons and catch of juvenile fish is prohibited.

Fisheries Management

The Canadian DFO is responsible for the management of this fishery. Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits are utilized to manage the fishery along with an Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) system that allocates the quota to licensed quota holders.

Stock Status

The combined fall and spring TAC for this stock is 45,500 metric tons. Recent catches have been below this level.

Click here for a summary of the most recent stock assessment.

Strait of Georgia, British Columbia

The herring in your product were caught in the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada.

Fisheries Management

The Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for the management of this fishery. Regular stock assessments are performed with herring harvest control rules dictating Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits on an annual basis. As long as the stock biomass is predicted to be above 25% of unfished levels, a 20% harvest rate is applied to the estimated stock size for the next year.

Stock Status

The Strait of Georgia Pacific herring stock is healthy and has been improving since 2010. The 2015 estimated biomass is over 174,000 metric tonnes. Catches in recent years have below 20,000 tonnes or less.

Scientists concluded the biomass is well above the harvest control rule threshold of 25% of unfished levels.

To learn more about the fishery, click here.

Norwegian Sardines Fishery

The herring in your product were caught in the North Sea off the coast of Norway.

Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits are utilized as part of the management process.

Fisheries Management

The fishery is managed by Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries in coordination with the European Union under the EU-Norway agreement.

Stock Status

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) considers the fishery sustainably managed. ICES is a multi-national scientific body that assesses stocks and provides fishery management and TAC advice to the European Union.

Sweden Sardines Fishery

The herring in your product was caught in the North Sea off the coast of southern Sweden.

Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits are utilized as part of the management process.

Fisheries Management

The fishery is managed according to the European Union-Norway agreement by Sweden and advised by International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

Stock Status

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea considers the fishery sustainably managed. ICES is a multi-national scientific body that assesses stocks and provides fishery management and TAC advice to the European Union.

Mauritania, Eastern Atlantic Ocean

The pilchards in your product were caught off the west coast of Mauritania in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Fisheries Management

Commercial fishing by European pelagic vessels in Mauritania is regulated through a Fisheries Partnership Agreement between the European Union and the Mauritanian government. Numbers of licenses and catches are limited under this agreement to manage the fishery. Sustainable management of fisheries resources is ensured in part through clear, transparent measures.

The agreement aims to minimize fishing impacts on marine ecosystems and respect the activities of Mauritanian coastal and artisanal fleets. Measures such as minimum mesh sizes are in force to avoid catch of juvenile fish. The current agreement was signed in July 2015 and is in force for four years.

Stock Status

The pilchards harvested in these waters are from the southern stock of northwest Africa European pilchards. The stock is assessed by the FAO Working Group on the Assessment of Small Pelagic Fish under the scope of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF) with the stock regularly surveyed by Moroccan and Mauritanian institutes.

The last assessment in 2014 deemed the stock healthy with the fishing mortality rate below the target and limit reference points and biomass estimated as well above both target and limit levels.

Actual catches have been well below total allowable catch limits.

To learn more about the fishery, click here.

Morocco, Eastern Atlantic Ocean

The pilchards in your product were caught off the west coast of Morocco in the eastern Atlantic Ocean.

Fisheries Management

The fishery is managed by the Moroccan Ministère de l’Agriculture et de la Pêche Maritimeunder with the Institut National de la Recherche Halieutique providing fisheries research and scientific advice to the government. The management plan which includes a TAC of 1,000,000 tons (small pelagic species combined), bycatch limits and species restrictions, spatial zoning and closed areas.

Stock Status

The pilchards harvested in these waters are from the southern stock of northwest Africa European pilchards. The stock is assessed by the FAO Working Group on the Assessment of Small Pelagic Fish under the scope of the Fishery Committee for the Eastern Central Atlantic (CECAF) with the stock regularly surveyed by Moroccan and Mauritanian institutes.

The last assessment in 2014 deemed the stock healthy with the fishing mortality rate below the target and limit reference points and biomass estimated as well above both target and limit levels.

Actual catches have been well below total catch limits.

To learn more about the fishery, click here.

Baltic Sea, Skagerrak and Kattegat

The herring in your product was caught in the Baltic Sea or nearby Skagerrak and Kattegat area.

Fisheries Management

Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limits are utilized as part of the management process. The fisheries are managed according to the European Union and national agreements and advised by International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

Stock Status

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea considers the fishery sustainably managed. ICES is a multi-national scientific body that assesses stocks and provides fishery management and TAC advice to the European Union.

Fishing Method

Purse Seine Fishing

The fish in your product was caught by purse seine fishing vessels. Purse seine fishing catches large schools of herring, all at once.

How does it work?

Once a school is located, a small boat deploys one end of a large net around the school, the seiner then encircles the school with net. The net has floats on the top and weights with a cable running through the bottom. As the cable is pulled, the bottom of the net is closed, like a purse, and the fish inside are brought closer to the surface. Catch of non-target species is minimal at less than 0.5%.

The herring are then pumped onboard the fishing vessel, where they are kept in refrigerated seawater for transport to the processing facility.

More Info on Purse Seine

To learn even more about purse seine fishing for herring, visit the Gulf of Maine Atlantic website.

Inshore Purse Seine

The fish in your product was caught by inshore purse seiners fishing vessels. Purse seine fishing catches schools of sardines, all at once.

How does it work?

Purse seine fishing catches schools of sardines, all at once.

Once a school is located, a small boat deploys one end of a large net around the school, the seiner then encircles the school with net. The net has floats on the top and weights with a cable running through the bottom. As the cable is pulled, the bottom of the net is closed, like a purse, and the fish inside are brought closer to the surface. Catch of non-target species is minimal.

The sardines are brought onboard the fishing vessel, where they are put on ice until landed in port.

Weir Fishing

The fish in your product was caught using weirs in New Brunswick, Canada.

How does it work?

Weir fishing is a method early settlers adapted from the Native Americans Indians in 16th century. Weirs are sets of semi-permanent structures of poles and nets built to trap fish.

The weir design is based on tidal patterns, and uses the rising and falling tides to trap fish in the shallows. Herring weirs are built in a way that directs schools of sardines into the trap, using the directional flow of water. When the weir is full of sardines, fishing vessels use seine nets to bring the herring to the surface. The herring are then pumped onboard the carrier vessel and held in refrigerated seawater for transport to the processing facility.

More Info

To learn even more about weir fishing for herring, visit the Gulf of Maine Atlantic website.

Mid-water Trawl and Purse Seine Fishing

The fish in your product came from a fishery that utilizes purse seiner or midwater trawlers.

Purse seine fishing catches large schools of herring, all at once.

In mid-water trawling, a net is deployed by a single, or pair of vessels, and towed as a specific depth to capture schools of herring. Mid-water trawling differs from bottom trawling as nets do not contact the seafloor.

More Info - Mid-water Trawl

In mid-water trawling, a net is deployed by a single, or pair of vessels, and towed at a specific depth to capture schools of herring. Mid-water trawling differs from bottom trawling as nets do not contact the seafloor.

The front end of nets used large sized mesh and helps to herd schools to the back and allowing non-schooling fish to exit the net. Catch of non-target species in small at about 1%.

Towing can last from minutes to eight hours depending on catch. Captains use sonar to determine when net is ready to be hauled in. Once the net is pulled in close to the boat, fish are pumped onboard the fishing vessel, where they are kept in refrigerated seawater for transport to the processing facility.

To learn even more about mid-water trawling for herring, visit the Gulf of Maine Atlantic website.

More Info - Purse Seine

Once a school is located, a small boat pulls a large net around the school, encircling it. The net has floats on the top and weights with a cable running through the bottom. As the cable is pulled, the bottom of the net is closed, like a purse, and the fish inside are brought closer to the surface. Catch of non-target species is minimal at less than 0.5%.

The herring are then pumped onboard the fishing vessel, where they are kept in refrigerated seawater for transport to the processing facility.

To learn even more about purse seine fishing for herring, visit the Gulf of Maine Atlantic website.

Inshore Purse Seine and Mid-Water Trawl

The fish in your product was caught by inshore purse seiners or midwater trawling fishing vessels.

More info - Inshore purse seine

Purse seine fishing catches schools of sardines, all at once.

Once a school is located, a small boat deploys one end of a large net around the school, the seiner then encircles the school with net. The net has floats on the top and weights with a cable running through the bottom. As the cable is pulled, the bottom of the net is closed, like a purse, and the fish inside are brought closer to the surface. Catch of non-target species is minimal.

The sardines are brought onboard the fishing vessel, where they are put on ice until landed in port.

More info - Mid-water trawl

In mid-water trawling, a net is deployed and towed as a specific depth to capture schools of sardines. Mid-water trawling differs from bottom trawling as nets do not contact the seafloor.

The front end of nets used large sized mesh and helps to herd schools to the back and allowing non-schooling fish to exit the net. Catch of non-target species is not significant.

The sardines are brought onboard the fishing vessel, where they are put on ice until landed in port.

Mid-Water Trawl

The fish in your product was caught by mid-water trawling fishing vessels.

How does it work?

These vessels catch their target fish by towing a net in midwater behind the vessel through shoals of fish. Since pilchards group together in schools without much mixing with other species, bycatch of non-target species is not significant.

The vessels use sonar and echo sounders to locate schools of fish. Once a suitable fishing location is found, a trawl net is lowered to the depths at which the fish typically swim. The net consists of a cone shaped body made of four panels, ending in a codend where the mesh is smallest and the fish are retained. The front part of the nets are net of very large mesh or ropes which herd the fish inwards.

More Info

Depending upon the abundance of fish in schools, the duration of tows will vary. After the net is hauled in, the herring are pumped onboard and temporarily held in refrigerated seawater tanks.

Cannery

Safi or Agadir, Morocco

Your product was canned in facilities in Safi or Agadir on the Moroccan coast.

Pilchards arrive fresh in port stored in plastic baskets with ice to keep the freshness. At the port, the baskets are transferred to trucks with isothermal body and refrigerated system and transported to the factory.

More Info

At the factory, workers cut heads and tails off of fish with scissor cutters and place in brine. In the second part of the line, women arrange sardines in cooking racks that will be put in trolleys. Trolleys are put in steam ovens to cook the fish. After that, women will take each sardine and remove the skin and the bones. They fill the cans and put them in racks. Racks are put in trolleys and go to filling and seaming area.

The cans enter a filling line, where they are filled with water, oil, or a variety of other sauces. The cans are seamed, washed, cooked in retorts and finally are packaged waiting for the positive release from the quality department.

TRACE COMPLETEFind Sardine Recipes

Black's Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada

Clover Leaf Seafoods proudly operates the last significant herring cannery in North America.

At the Blacks Harbour cannery in New Brunswick, Canada, herring are delivered by vessels fishing along the northeast coast. The herring are pumped directly from the vessel onto the third floor of the facility, where they are sized and sorted into holding tanks of refrigerated seawater.

More Info

Black’s Harbour uses a variety of canning techniques, depending on the amount of fish awaiting processing. These techniques range from the old-fashioned scissor cutters, to semi-automated processes, and to SAP machines that were developed by cannery engineers specifically for canning sardines. Once in the can, they are cooked without the lid, allowing the oils to cook out. Fish oil is collected and sold as a valuable byproduct for dietary supplements and animal feed. After cooking, the cans enter an automated filling line, where they are filled with water, oil, or a variety of flavorful sauces. The cans are seamed, cooked in retorts, undergo an X-Ray inspection for quality control, and finally are packaged for market in our robotic casing process.

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TRACE COMPLETEFind Sardine Recipes

Black's Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada

Clover Leaf Seafoods proudly operates the last significant sardine cannery in North America.

The Black’s Harbour cannery in New Brunswick, Canada, receives these fish either frozen whole or precut with head, tail and viscera removed. Frozen blocks of sardines are removed from our cold storage and placed in cold, clean seawater to thaw overnight for production the following morning.

More Info

Black’s Harbour uses a variety of canning techniques, depending on the amount of fish awaiting processing. These techniques range from the old-fashioned scissor cutters, to semi-automated processes, and to SAP machines that were developed by cannery engineers specifically for canning sardines. Once in the can, they are cooked without the lid, allowing the oils to cook out. Fish oil is collected and sold as a valuable byproduct for dietary supplements and animal feed. After cooking, the cans enter an automated filling line, where they are filled with water, oil, or a variety of flavorful sauces. The cans are seamed, cooked in retorts, undergo an X-Ray inspection for quality control, and finally are packaged for market in our robotic casing process.

Watch Video
TRACE COMPLETEFind Sardine Recipes

Poland

Your product was canned in Poland on the coast of the Baltic Sea.

The fish is brought in fresh or on ice, frozen immediately after being hauled aboard the fishing boats. Heads and tails are removed, fish are cleaned and to assure the best quality are still packed by hand.

The cans enter a filling line, where they are filled with water, oil, or a variety of other sauces. The cans are seamed, washed, cooked in retorts and finally are packaged waiting for the positive release from the quality department.

TRACE COMPLETEFind Sardine Recipes