Sardine (Pilchard)

(Sardinops sagax)

Sardyn, Sardien, Pilchard, Lucky star

1. What is it?

Sardines (Sardinops sagax) are small, fast growing fish that form large schools. Population levels of sardines are known to experience decadal fluctuations in abundance due to variations in environmental conditions as well as variability in phytoplankton and zooplankton abundance. Stock levels are currently rated as fully exploited.

2. How was it caught or farmed?

Sardines are caught using purse-seine nets which are set around a school of fish in the surface to mid-water. Once the school is surrounded, the bottom of the net is closed by a footrope. There is no known damage to the benthic habitat and bycatch of other small fish species ranges between 5-30%. Bycatch tends to consist of adult anchovy, red eyes and horse mackerels.

3. Where is it from?

Sardines are caught mainly off the western Agulhas Bank with possible extension into stock sources on the East and West Coast. Sardines within the Small Pelagic Fishery sector is managed using Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limit, access rights and vessel permits. There is also a total allowable limit for bycatches (TAB) of sardines and precautionary Upper Catch limits (PUCLs) for red eyes, combined lantern and light fish and cape horse mackerel. Management is considered effective and research is attempting to understand the interactions between the small pelagic fishery and the endangered African Penguin.