Illustration of Sardine

Sardine

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Seafood Variety

Harvest Method

Regions

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Pacific sardine

Sardinops sagax

Method

Wild

Purse seine

Location

US Pacific, Canadian Pacific

Overall Rating

3.4 / 5

Summary

The Pacific sardine fishery began in the 1900’s on the west coast, until experiencing a population crash in the 1940’s. This crash was mainly attributed to poor environmental conditions and overfishing. Recovery began in California in the 1970’s, and by 2002, the Canadian commercial fishery was reopened. In 2010, 22,233 mt were landed in Canada.

The Pacific sardine stocks are highly variable and are sensitive to changes in environmental conditions such as temperature, and typically undergo “boom and bust” changes in abundance. Sardines have life history characteristics that give them medium resistance to fishing pressure. The population is currently not in an overfished state, nor is overfishing occurring. Management regulations set by both Canada and the US are thorough, and rely on fishery-dependent as well as fishery-independent data. Canada and the US share scientific information for better data quality. However, the effectiveness of the management could be improved upon, given that biomass has been decreasing and scientific literature has questioned management methods.

The Pacific sardine fishery is associated with both incidental catch (non-target species that are kept for sale) and bycatch (non-target species that are discarded). Pacific mackerel is the most common incidental catch. Stock status is healthy and the sardine fishery is not known to have negative impacts on the mackerel population. Bycatch rates are extremely low. Purse seines cause minimal damage to the habitat as they do not contact the sea floor. The impact of removing sardines from the ecosystem is not well understood, despite their important role as a forage species upon which numerous other species depend.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - South Brittany sardine purse seine

Variety

Sardine

Sardina pilchardus

Method

Wild

Purse seine

Location

Bay of Biscay

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
South Brittany sardine purse seine

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

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Variety

European sardine / Atlantic sardine

Sardina pilchardus

Method

Wild

Midwater trawl, Unassociated purse seine

Location

Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea

Overall Rating

1.8 - 2.2 / 5

Summary

Catches of Atlantic sardine are highly variable, partly due to the impact of environmental changes caused by the Mediterranean Oscillation Index on survival. Catches started increasing as of 1990, peaking in 2001, before declining again. Croatia, Turkey, and Algeria catch the majority of the Atlantic sardines in the Mediterranean. In 2012, almost 33,000 tonnes of msotly canned sardine were imported into the US, of which 400t were from Spain, and small amounts were from the other Mediterranean countries (Spain, France, Italy, Slovenia, Turkey).

Several different populations of Atlantic sardines exist in the Mediterranean. Some of these populations are depleted, and many are below the abundance required to produce the maximum sustainable yield. Other stocks are of unknown status which is of concern. Overall, the Atlantic sardines are overfished except in the Aegean Sea.vWhen caught in international waters, the Atlantic sardine fishery is managed by the General Fisheries Commission. Each Mediterranean country also regulates the fishery individually. Management is ineffective except in the Adriatic Sea.

Atlantic sardines are caught together with other pelagic fishes such as European anchovies, mackerels, Spanish sardine, and sprat. Most of these species are retained, making them incidental catch. The bycatch of concern includes chub mackerel, as it may be overfished, as well as the threatened short-beaked common dolphins. Purse seines and pelagic trawls cause little habitat damage since they do not touch the seafloor. However, there are concerns over the removal of Atlantic sardines from the ecosystem as they play an exceptional role in the ecosystem as a prey item of many different species.

Market availability: Lack of traceability is a challenge. While sardines are imported to Canada, mostly in canned form, the exact species is not always specified, and it is also not always known whether the sardine originates from the Mediterranean.

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Variety

Sardine

Sardina pilchardus

Method

Wild

Purse seine

Location

Gulf of California, Mexico

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Gulf of California, Mexico – sardine

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Sardine

Sardina pilchardus

Method

Wild

Gillnet, Ring net

Location

Cornwall, UK

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Cornwall sardine, UK

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Sardine

Sardina pilchardus

Method

Wild

Purse seine

Location

Portugal

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Portugal sardine purse seine

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Sardine

Sardina pilchardus

Method

Wild

Purse seine

Location

Bay of Biscay

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Bay of Biscay purse seine sardine fishery

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods