by seachoice on October 12th, 2011
The name “Sardine” is applied to dozens of small pelagic fishes of the herring family. These include the “true Sardines” (genus Sardinops) as well as related fishes of the genera Harengula, Sardina, Sardinella and Sprattus. All of these species are relatively small (less than 40 cm long at full size) and all are pelagic plankton-feeders which travel in enormous schools. All are prolific breeders that mature quickly, but are subject to large population fluctuations as oceanographic conditions affect recruitment. These fishes are caught in vast numbers in pelagic trawls and purse seines. All are marketed, to various degrees, for human consumption, often as canned product. All have also been sought, to various degrees, as baitfish and as raw material for fishmeal and fish oil. Recent studies suggest three stocks of Pacific sardines along the North American west coast: a Gulf of California stock, a stock off the Pacific side of Baja California, and the main northern stock which historically ranged up the coast from Baja California to Alaska.