Herring or sild

Clupea harengus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Pelagic trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Norwegian (spring-spawning)
Stock detail — 1, 2, 5
Certification — Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Picture of Herring or sild

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

The stock is declining , and now below recommended precautionary levels. Fishing pressure is at sustainable levels and the stock is harvested sustainably. The stock is managed by a joint plan, which takes into account the ‘straddling’ nature of this stock (the fact that the herring cross and are fished through international boundaries during their migration), and it is in line with the precautionary approach. The fishing methods are relatively clean, although there is little information on bycatch, it is thought to be small in most fisheries. The fishery was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2009.


Herring belongs to the same family of fish (clupeids) as sprat and pilchard. It can grow to greater than 40 cm, although size differs between races (distinct breeding stocks). Most herring landed are around 25 cm. Herring are sexually mature at between 3-9 years (depending on stock) and populations include both spring and autumn spawners. At least one population in UK waters spawns in any one month of the year. Herring have an important role in the marine ecosystem, as a transformer of plankton at the bottom of the food chain to higher trophic or feeding levels, e.g. for cod, seabirds and marine mammals. It is also considered to have a major impact on other fish stocks as prey and predator and is itself prey for seabirds and marine mammals in the North Sea and other areas. Herring spawning and nursery areas are sensitive to anthropogenic or human influences such as sand and gravel extraction.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

Stock Area

Norwegian (spring-spawning)

Stock information

Norwegian spring-spawning herring is a widely migratory or straddling stock. The feeding grounds of the adults are in the Norwegian Sea. Spawning takes place in late winter and early spring along the Norwegian coast.
Fishing mortality has had an overall declining trend since 2010 and was well below FMSY in 2016. The stock is declining and estimated to be below MSY Btrigger since 2014. Since 1998 four large year classes have been produced (1998, 1999, 2002, and 2004). All year classes since 2005 are estimated to be average or small.
ICES advises that when the long-term management plan agreed by the EU, Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Russia in 1999 is applied, catches in 2018 should be no more than 384 197 tonnes. The fishery was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in 2009. Current certification expires in 2019.


Criterion score: 0 info

This widely distributed and migratory or straddling stock is managed under a joint long-term plan agreed by the EU, Norway, Iceland, Faroe Island and Russia in 1999. The plan aims to constrain harvesting within safe biological limits and is designed to provide sustainable fisheries in the long-term. The plan is evaluated by ICES as being consistent with the precautionary approach.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

The fishery moves with the herring, following the migration from the Norwegian winter grounds to the feeding grounds of international, Icelandic, EU and Norwegian waters in summer. The fishery is entirely pelagic and has no impact upon the seabed. There is little information on its impacts on the ecosystem specifically but pelagic herring fisheries for human consumption are relatively clean in terms of bycatch, although the gears used have been associated with cetacean and seal bycatch. Discards are considered to be negligible, but some slippage (i.e. the net is slipped or the cod end opened in the water before being taken on board) is known to occur. The minimum landing size for herring in EU waters is 20cm (18cm in Skagerrak/Kattegat), maturity is at around 17cm.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Anchovy, anchovies
Arctic char
Herring or sild
Salmon, Atlantic (Farmed)
Salmon, Chinook, King Salmon
Salmon, Chum, Keta, Calico or Dog salmon
Salmon, Coho , Silver, White
Salmon, Pink, Spring , humpback
Salmon, Sockeye , Red Salmon, Bluebacks, Redfish
Trout, Rainbow
Tuna, albacore
Tuna, bigeye
Tuna, skipjack
Tuna, yellowfin


ICES. 2017. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2017/2017/her.27.1-24a514a.pdfICES (Accessed 13th November 2017)
Advice 2015, Book 9 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/her-noss.pdf;