Many populations of Atlantic sardines in the Mediterranean are declining due to overfishing. This, and ineffective fishery management, result in an "Avoid" ranking.
European Pilchard, Iwashi, Pilchard, Sardine
The name "sardines" applies to many small fishes of the herring family, but most commonly to Pacific sardines. Sardines are known as iwashi when prepared for sushi.
Sardines reproduce rapidly, but their populations depend on favorable marine conditions.
In the Mediterranean, sardines are fished by a number of countries including Albania, France, Greece, Italy, Montenegro, Morocco, Spain and Turkey. For many of these fisheries, population size is unknown. The populations that are being monitored reveal that many are depleted and continue to decline.
In the Mediterranean, management of sardine fisheries is critically ineffective. Nations frequently ignore scientific advice when setting regulations and existing regulations are poorly enforced. Management has failed to maintain Atlantic sardine populations, despite the species' inherent resilience to fishing pressure.
As a result of ineffective management and overfishing, consumers should "Avoid" Atlantic sardines from the Mediterranean. Instead, choose the relatively abundant and well-managed Pacific sardines from U.S. waters - a Seafood Watch "Best Choice."