Seafood Watch - Seafood Guide

Herring, Atlantic

© Scandinavian Fishing Yearbook/www.scandfish.com
SEAFOODRATINGMARKET NAMESLOCATION/CERTIFICATIONHOW CAUGHT/FARMED
Herring Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Brit, Pilchard, Sardine, Sild, Sperling Marine Stewardship Council Certified Wild
Herring, Atlantic Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Sardine, Sild, Sperling, Pilchard, Brit U.S. Atlantic Wild
Herring, Lake Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Northern Cisco, Tullibee Lake Superior Wild


Atlantic Herring, Wild, U.S. Atlantic

There are concerns that Atlantic herring is being overfished, which may impact marine mammals, seabirds and fishes that also depend on this species.

Consumer Note

Most of the U.S. commercial catch occurs between May and October in the Gulf of Maine; however, Atlantic herring is available throughout the year as a canned product.

Summary

In the northwest Atlantic, herring is one of the most important prey items for marine mammals, seabirds and predatory fishes such as bluefin tuna. There is also a large commercial fishery for herring, with the fish being canned for human consumption or sold for bait.

With herring in such high demand, recent studies suggest that current catch levels could be profoundly impacting the health of the ecosystem. It's possible that too many Atlantic herring are being fished out of the ocean reducing their availability for whales, dolphins, seals, seabirds, tunas, and other predatory fishes that rely on them as an important food source.

The extent of bycatch in the herring fishery is largely unknown, but appears to include some protected fish species.

Atlantic herring are caught with midwater trawls, which can catch huge amounts of fish and are not selective. Steps have been taken in recent years to address this, including some fishing area closures to decrease bycatch of protected species. However, it will be some time before the benefits of these new management measures will be realized.


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How fish are caught or farmed makes a difference. Fishing boat