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 Sea
Stock detail — 7.a North
Certification — Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Picture of Herring or sild

Sustainability rating one info

Sustainability overview

The stock is currently at its highest level and fishing mortality appears to be stable. The Northern Ireland Pelagic Sustainability Group (NIPSG) Irish Sea Herring fishery was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) in August 2014. Herring from this fishery is the best choice for herring from this area.


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 info

Stock Area

Irish Sea

Stock information

The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been above MSY Btrigger since 2007. Fishing mortality (F) has decreased since 2003 and has been below FMSY since 2007. There has been stronger recruitment (R) since 2006, although the recruitment in 2017 is low.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below FMSY, Fpa, and Flim; and spawning stock size is above MSY Btrigger, Bpa, and Blim.
ICES advises that when the MSY approach is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 6896 tonnes (7016 in 2018; 4127 in 2017; 4575 t in 2016; 4854 t in 2015; 5,251 t in 2014).
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.


Criterion score: 0 info

There is no precautionary management plan developed for the stock in this area. A management plan is currently under review by the Pelagic Regional Advisory Council (RAC) for Division 7.a (North). The Northern Ireland Pelagic Sustainability Group (NIPSG) Irish Sea Herring fishery has been certified as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since August 2014.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

The majority of the fishery is taken by UK pelagic trawlers with some local landings. The herring fishery for human consumption in the UK is thought to be relatively clean in terms of bycatch of other fish or cetaceans and has little or no impact on the seabed. There are no observations of discarding or slippage. The minimum landing size for herring in EU waters is 20cm (18cm in Skagerrak/Kattegat).


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. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas Ecoregion. Published 29 June 2018. http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2018/2018/her.27.nirs.pdf (Last accessed July 2018)