Herring or sild

Clupea harengus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Pelagic trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Irish, Celtic Sea and southwest of Ireland
Stock detail — 7.a south and 7. j-k
Picture of Herring or sild

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

The spawning stock biomass for herring in this area has been decreasing significantly since its peak in 2011, and is now below MSY Btrigger and at Blim, the lowest observed level. Fishing pressure is also too high. The fishery is relatively clean with no impact on the seabed.


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: 1 info

Stock Area

Irish, Celtic Sea and southwest of Ireland

Stock information

The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been decreasing significantly since its peak in 2011, and is now below MSY Btrigger at Blim. The fishing mortality (F) has increased since 2008 and has been above FMSY since 2015. Recruitment has been below average since 2013.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is above FMSY and Fpa and below Flim. The spawning stock size is below MSY Btrigger and Bpa, and above Blim.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 4742 tonnes (5445 tonnes in 2018).

ICES also advises that activities that have an impact on the spawning habitat of herring should not occur, unless the effects of these activities have been assessed and shown not to be detrimental. Activities that have a negative impact on the spawning habitat of herring, such as dumping of dredge spoil, extraction of marine aggregates (e.g. gravel and sand), and erection of structures near spawning grounds are a cause for concern.


Criterion score: 0.5 info

A long-term management plan for this stock was agreed by the Irish industry in 2011 and has been used by managers since 2012. A rebuilding plan has been in place since 2009. Regulations include closed spawning areas, allowing recruit spawners to contribute to the fishery before they are captured. However, ICES has recently evaluated the management strategy and determined that the harvest control rule is not consistent with the precautionary approach and that the strategy results in a greater than 5% probability of the stock falling below Blim in several of the years throughout the 20-year simulated period.
The CSHMAC pelagic pair trawl fishery for herring in the Celtic Sea was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery in March 2012 but has since been withdrawn.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

100% of the catch in the area is taken by pelagic trawl. Human consumption fisheries for herring are considered relatively clean, with little bycatch of other fish. A decline in the market for roe has led to decreased slipage (discards). The minimum landing size for herring in EU waters is 20cm (18cm in Skagerrak/Kattegat), maturity is at around 17cm. There has been considerable efficiency or technical creep in the fishery since the 1980s with greater ability to locate fish.


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
Sprat, whitebait
Trout, Rainbow
Tuna, albacore
Tuna, bigeye
Tuna, skipjack
Tuna, yellowfin


ICES (2018) http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2018/2018/her.27.irls.pdf (Last accessed July 2018).