Sardine (Pilchard)

(Sardinops sagax)

Sardyn, Sardien, Pilchard

1. What is it?

Sardines (Sardinops sagax) are small, fast growing fish that form large schools. The stock is considered to be fully exploited. However, concerns remain regarding the poor levels of recruitment over recent years and the lower than average levels of biomass, particularly on the West Coast, for the last 10 years. In 2016, sardine biomass dropped below the Exceptional Circumstances threshold triggering a rapid reduction in the TAC in order to ensure the recovery of the resource.

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. In the small pelagic fishery, there is little to no known damage to the benthic habitat and bycatch of other small fish species ranges between 5-30%. Bycatch tends to consist of anchovy, round herring and horse mackerel.

3. Where is it from?

Sardines are caught mainly off the western Agulhas Bank with extension into stock sources on the South and West Coast. Sardines are managed using Total Allowable Catch (TAC) limit, access rights and vessel permits. There are also total allowable limits for bycatch (TAB) of juvenile sardines and adult sardines, precautionary Upper Catch limits (PUCLs) for round herring, combined lantern and light fish and cape horse mackerel. Management is considered largely effective and research is attempting to understand the interactions between the small pelagic fishery and the endangered African Penguin.