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In 2022/23, MSC labelled North Sea herring sales were higher in the UK and Ireland than five years ago. Besides the recovery of herring stocks in the North Sea, a key factor in the kipper revival can be credited to the health benefits of eating oily fish that are high in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin B12. Herring is most popularly enjoyed lightly pickled in vinegar or smoked as a kipper. Its unique strong taste makes an inexpensive meal and a good alternative to the big five species.

How many species of herring are there?

Herring belongs to a wider family of around 200 fish species, but there are three species of herring that are most common: Atlantic, Pacific and Araucanian. 

The Atlantic or North Sea herring is a member of a group of forage fish species that include sardines and anchovies. Small, silver-tawny and torpedo-like, herring are known for travelling in large schools in temperate waters.

Where do most of the MSC herring we eat in the UK come from? 

There are several MSC certified herring fisheries in the North Sea and Irish Sea that supply the UK market, including the UK NIPSG herring fishery.

What type of MSC products are available in the UK?

MSC labelled herring is primarily sold in tins or chilled (often as kippers). In 2022, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Lidl, Co-op, Aldi and Asda all sold chilled MSC certified kippers, while both John West and Princes offer MSC certified kippers in a can. Herring is also found in health supplements such as Dr Mercola Herring Caviar Oil and faux caviar like Arenkha MSC Herring pearls.

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