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Pilchard, European

Quality mark Cultivation
/Keurmerk Wild
Second choice
Informatie over vissoort
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Herring-like fish

There are two families in the order Clupeiformes; the herring family (Clupidae) and the anchovy family (Engraulidae) and are relatively small, silver-coloured fish.  They swim in large, pelagic schools and feed on plankton. They are occasionally found near the shore, however they usually swim further out in the open sea at depths up to 200 m. Most species are capable of producing a lot of eggs each spawning event, up to 200.000 per adult female. A large share of the global wild catch consists of haring-like fish. Not everything is used for direct human consumption, a large share is processed as fish meal or fish oil that form the essential ingredient for fish feed in aquaculture. Haring-like fish swim in large schools which makes them susceptible to large scale (industrial) fishing.





Pilchard, European

The European pilchard can mainly be found in the north-east Atlantic Ocean but can also be found in the Mediterranean Sea. Their name originates from the island Sardinia, as large populations of sardine used to surround this area. The European pilchard always swim in large schools and feed on plankton. They normally reach up to sizes of 20 cm and can reach an age of 15 years.


Pilchard, European

Sardina pilchardus

Atlantic Ocean, north-east (FAO 27)
Deelgebieden: Irish Sea,west of Ireland, Porcupine Bank, English Channel, Bristol Channel, Celtic Sea and south-west of Ireland

Farming- / Catch method

Purse seines

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

There is no good stock-estimationStock estimation:
Estimating the number of fish of a particular species who are reproducing in the same spawning area in the same period.  
of pilchard in this area, but the species is probably not overfishedOverfished:
A stock is overfished when the stock size has decreased so far that it can no longer produce a maximum sustainable yield. The size of the fish populations is insufficient to reproduce in the long term. 
. The pilchard is reasonably resistant to fishing pressureFishing pressure:
Fishing pressure is a result of the fishing effort/amount of fishing on a stock, which determines the fishing mortality. Fishing mortality is the share of the fish stock that dies annually as a result of fishing.
, as it reaches sexual maturity early on and grows rather quickly. However, the growth of young pilchard depends strongly on the fluctuations of nature, and as a result the fish stock is very variable. Swimming in shoals also makes them vulnerable to overfishing.

Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
es in the purse-seinesPurse seines:
A ring net in which the net is circulated around a school of fish. Then the net is closed and taken in. This is also called 'purse seine'. 
fishery are generally low, but there is no fishery specific data available. As the fish swim high up in the water column, there is no seabed impact. Pilchards are an important food source for other species, such as marine mammals and seabirds. The large-scale collection of pilchards can have a negative effect on such species.

Fishing is managed within the EU Common Fisheries Policy. Recently there has been a ban on discardsDiscards:
Unwanted by-catch, which is thrown back because there is no quota, the market price is too low, or the fish is below the legal minimum landing size. Discards can be alive or dead.
in this fishery; BycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
es of species for which a quotaQuota:
The maximum amount of fish of a species that may be landed per country and per year; an instrument for regulating fisheries. 
has been set.

Fish in season 

Fish is in season when the spawning period has ended, as the quality is then at its best.

ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.


Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.


This fish is unwillingly caught while fishing for a different species. They are underused and should be eaten more.


GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.


Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.

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