|The target species of the pelagic fishing activities by the PFA are small pelagic fish species such as herring, mackerel, horse mackerel, sardinella, blue whiting, sardine and silversmelt. They swim together in shoals and often migrate over large distances in the sea.|
Herring (Clupea harengus)
Herring can be found at depths down to 200 meters in the North Sea and along the borders of the Atlantic Ocean. The herring can be divided in different populations, which are mainly distinguished by size of the fish, rate of growth and migration routes. The spawning takes place in August-September, and in December. A single female produces 20.000-50.000 eggs. After spawning, the low-fat herring migrates back to grounds that are richer in plankton. It starts feeding again in April-May. The 'Dutch-matjes herring' (or green herring) is caught during May-July. This fish is sold all through the year. The PFA North Sea Herring Fishery has a Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification as a sustainable fishery.
Mackerel (Scomber scombrus)
Mackerel is found in the northern part of the North sea and west of Scotland and Ireland. In January the mackerel off the Shetland Islands becomes of importance to the fishing fleet. From there, the mackerel gradually goes south. The population divides into three groups. A small group swims into the North Sea ('east' mackerel), another group stays in the Irish sea areas and the largest group goes southwards along the Scottish and Irish west coast ('west' mackerel). With an average speed of 10 km/ph mackerel is a swift swimmer. After approximately three years the female mackerel is ready to spawn and produces 200.000 - 450.000 eggs. Although smoked mackerel is considered a delicacy in Europe, almost 90 % of the deep frozen mackerel are exported abroad.
Chub/Colias Mackerel (Scomber japonicus)
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Horse mackerel (Trachurus trachurus)
Horse mackerel is mostly caught in the waters off Scotland and Ireland, in the Gulf of Biscay and, since 1996, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Mauritania. The female produces up to 140.000 pelagic eggs. It is one of the most important pelagic species for the freezer-trawler fleet. Horse mackerel is a bony fish that is mostly exported to the Russian, Nigerian and Japanese market.
Pacific jack mackerel (Trachurus murphyi)
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Blue Whiting (Micromesistius poutassou)
Blue Whiting lives in the open ocean at depths of 100 - 1000 meters. Often found above the continental slope, mainly at depths of 150 - 400 meters. They follow the vertical migrations of their food, the zooplankton, towards surface at night and towards the bottom in the morning. Spawning takes place in March-April west of the British Isles and locally off Norway and Iceland. The female produces 6.000 - 150.000 eggs. After spawning the shoals migrate to their feeding grounds in Norwegian fjords and in the northern North Sea.
Sardinella (Sardinella aurita)
Sardinella belongs to the same family as the herring. This species has a wide distribution in West African waters. There are in fact two species of sardinella: the flat and the round sardinella. The round sardinella is more numerous and occurs further from the coast than the flat sardinella. It also has a more northern distribution (Morocco and Mauritania) than the flat sardinella (Senegal, Gambia). When spawning (when they are approximately 20-23 cm.), the sardinella produces its eggs close to the coast. Annual changes in water temperature, ocean currents and food conditions seem to have a strong influence on the distribution of sardinella.
Sardine (Sardina pilchardus)
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Silver Smelt (Argentina Silus)
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According to official health experts, the consumption of fish twice a week gives a positive contribution to the composition of our diet. At least one of this portions should be an oily fish. ‘Oily' fish include almost all of the species caught by the PFA-fleet. All fish are excellent sources of protein, vitamins and minerals, but oily fish is particurlary nutritious because it contains high levels of the fatty acid, omega-3. Oily fish also provide vitamin A, D en E and minerals as iodine and selenium. The nutritional value of fish is even more important in those situations in which the total dietary package is insufficient.
Sea frozen fish, produced by members of the PFA, are used for human consumption. The efficiency of the fishing activities and the immediate freezing of the catch on board ensure a relatively low price level and a high quality. The pelagic fish are chilled immediately after capture and subsequently frozen on board. This freezing and production process is carried out under strict conditions of hygiene, as controlled by the national Health Control Authorities, ruling out the chance of
contamination or decay of the product.