Portugal sardine purse seine — MSC
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Portugal sardine purse seine

MSC status

Certified as sustainable on the 14th January 2010.

The Conformity Assessment Body, Intertek Fisheries Certification (IFC), has announced the suspension of the Portugal sardine purse seine fishery, from 14th August 2014 until further notice. Any sardine harvested from the fishery after this date are not eligible to use the MSC ecolabel, until the suspension has been lifted.

Please refer to the assessment downloads section for further details. Contact the Conformity Assessment Body


Species: Sardine (Sardina pilchardus)
Portuguese coast, ICES areas VIIIc and IXa
Fishing methods: Purse seine
Vessels: 99
Number of fisheries: 1

More about sardine

The sardine can be found throughout the North Atlantic eastern continental margin from Senegal to the British Isles and in the Mediterranean and adjacent seas. It is commercially exploited across its distribution range, with the most important fisheries occurring in upwelling areas.

Sardine is a pelagic fish that forms large schools that off the Iberian Peninsula are distributed along the continental shelf of the Atlantic Ocean in depths ranging between 10 m. and 100 m. Sardine is not normally found off the continental shelf. Schools of juvenile fish tend to be separated from adults and are found closer inshore, typically associated with estuaries and rivers.

More about the fishing methods

The Purse seine fishing method is a common type of seine fishing, named such because along the bottom of the net are a number of rings. A rope passes through all the rings, and when pulled, draws the rings close to one another, preventing the fish from "sounding", or swimming down to escape the net. The purse seine is a preferred technique for capturing fish species which school, or aggregate, close to the surface such as sardines.

Fishery tonnage

in 2008, approximately 78,000 tonnes was landed. There is no TAC for this fishery.

Commercial market

Most landings are sold through auctions that are run by a state company Docapesca. A small proportion of landings are under contract to canning
companies and do not pass through a Docapesca auction. POs issue a daily quota, partly to standardise market prices at the auctions. Sardine are withdrawn from sale if they do not sell at the minimum price level. The withdrawn sardines, for which a withdrawal price is paid, are frozen and represented when market conditions allow.

Portuguese sardine are mainly consumed fresh within Portugal and (occasionally) Spain. About a third of the national production is sent to canning factories that are found in the centre (Peniche) and the north (Matosinhos, Povoa) of the country. About 50 % of the canned sardines is exported.

Actual eligibility date

The actual eligibility date for the Portugal sardine purse seine fishery is the 13th January 2010.

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