Original publication: November 2015
Instituto Português do Mar e da Atmosfera (IPMA, I.P.): Alexandra Silva, Ana Moreno
Instituto Español de Oceanografía (IEO): Isabel Riveiro, Begoña Santos
Centre for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM), Universidade de Aveiro: Cristina Pita
University of Santiago de Compostela (USC), Campus Do*Mar – International Campus of
Excellence (CDM): João Garcia Rodrigues, Sebastián Villasante
Institut Français pour la Recherche et l’Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER): Lionel Pawlowski, Erwan Duhamel
Short link to this post: http://bit.ly/2DV7wnO
Available languages:

Sardine Fisheries: Resource Assessment and Social and Economic Situation

Download the Study

Small pelagic species like sardine fluctuate as a function of recruitment success which, in turn, depends mainly on environmental variability. High fishing levels may lead to low stocks levels and contribute to impair recruitment.

Two stocks are considered in EU Atlantic waters: Northern stock (ICES Subareas VII and VIIIa,b,d) fished mainly by France and Spain, and Southern stock (ICES Subarea VIIIc and Division IXa) fished by Spain and Portugal. Sardine is important for the fisheries sector and fish canning industries in those countries.

Sardine landings from the Northern stock have increased over time and in 2014 were 45 000 tonnes. Landings in Subarea VIII increased sharply in recent years due to high abundance of sardine in the area and decrease of fishing opportunities for the Southern stock. ICES assessment and advice is not available for the whole stock due to limited data collected in Subarea VII. A trend-based assessment is performed for sub-area VIII based on scientific surveys. The stock shows an increasing trend over the last five years and current harvest rate appears to be sustainable. ICES advised that catches should be no more than 33 065 tonnes in each of the years 2016 and 2017. Technical measures are in place but effort and catches are not regulated. Given the growing interest on the exploitation of this stock it is recommended to develop a Management Plan and collect data on sardine fisheries and abundance from Subarea VII.

Fisheries on the Southern stock show a long term decrease since the 1980s. In recent years, landings dropped sharply due to stock decline and regulatory measures. Landings in 2014 were 27 900 tonnes. The stock is assessed using an analytical model and advice has been based on the precautionary approach. The biomass of the stock decreased 71% over the past 10 years (2007-2015) due to prolonged low recruitment and high fishing mortality in recent years. Large reductions in effort and catches implemented since 2011 contributed to a substantial reduction of fishing mortality. Technical measures are in place. Spain and Portugal agreed on a multiannual management plan and have regulated catches and effort accordingly since 2014. ICES advises that catches in 2016 should be no more than 1 587 tonnes. Since the productivity of the stock might have changed it is recommended to adopt additional technical measures and to revise the MP.


This study conducted an in-depth analysis of the sardine resource, considering the most recent ICES evaluation in the different fishing Subareas, the results related to fishing mortality and biomass, and ICES recommendations. The study highlights the evolution of the status of the resource along the past years.

Regulatory fishing measures and management plans are identified as well as any other actions adopted by member States so as to value their possible effectiveness in relation with the evolution of the resource status. It also describes the principal fishing fleets involved, the type of vessels, level of catches, seasonal activities, with a description of the crew and other related activities on land, including market and commercial issues, so as to assess the social and economic aspects of this activity.

On the basis of these analyses the European Parliament will be provided with recommendations to assess the sustainability of the resource, considering, among others, the possible establishment of specific guidelines and new measures for that purpose, taking into account the social and economic dimension of the activity.

Link to the full study: http://bit.ly/563-412

Please give us your feedback on this publication

Selection of figures:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply