Pacific sardine populations appear to be abundant and healthy and are a "Best Choice."
Iwashi, Pilchard, Sardine
The name "sardines" is applied to many small fishes of the herring family, but most commonly refers to Pacific sardines. Sardines are known as iwashi when prepared for sushi.
Sardines reproduce rapidly, but their populations depend on favorable marine conditions.
Pacific sardines once supported one of the largest and most profitable fisheries in the U.S., but by the late 1940s the fish were virtually gone. Although overfishing likely contributed to this, the dramatic decrease was later found to be part of a natural "boom and bust" cycle, which occurs in Pacific sardine populations every 30 to 40 years when a change in water temperature and oceanic conditions favors either sardines or anchovies.
Pacific sardines have made a comeback - good news for people who enjoy these tasty fish as well as the many kinds of seabirds, marine mammals and other fish in the food web that rely on them as the basis of their diet.