The European pilchard is a migratory, ocean-dwelling fish that can be found in the Northeast Atlantic from the North Sea southward to Bay de Gorée, Senegal. It can also be found in the Mediterranean, the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea. These fish form in schools at depths between 25 to 100 metres during the day, rising to 10 to 35 metres at night.
The body of the European pilchard is bright silver and nearly cylindrical, with a rounded belly. This species has a series of dark spots along upper flanks of its body, sometimes with a second or even third series below. It is usually cooked whole once gutted, and is great on the barbeque.
The European pilchard breeds at 20 to 25 metres below sea level, ranging from the shore to as far as 100 km out to sea. They breed in April in the English Channel, June to August in the North and Black Seas, September to May off the European coasts of the Mediterranean, and November to June off the African coasts of the Mediterranean. The European pilchard feeds mainly on planktonic crustaceans, but also larger organisms.
Brittany Purse Seine
Fish harvesters encircle a large wall of netting around schools of fish and pull the bottom of the netting closed, like a drawstring purse, to capture the fish.
Sardine Gill Net
This fishery uses curtains of netting suspended by a system of floats and weights to catch sardines. The fine netting is almost invisible so sardine unwittingly get caught in the mesh.