The European pilchard (Sardina pilchardus) is a species of ray-finned fish in the genus Sardina. Forms schools, usually at depths of 25 to 55 or even 100 m by day, rising to 10 to 35 m at night. Feeds mainly on planktonic crustaceans, also on larger organisms. Spawns in batches, in the open sea or near the coast, producing 50,000-60,000 eggs with a mean diameter of 1.5 mm.
Sardines as foodEdit
Sardines are rich in nutrients. They are commonly sold canned, but fresh sardines are often grilled, pickled or smoked.
Sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which reduce the occurrence of cardiovascular disease. Recent studies suggest that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids reduces the likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s disease. These fatty acids may also help lower blood sugar levels a small amount. They are also a good source of vitamin D, calcium, B12, and protein.
Because they are low in the food chain, sardines are very low in contaminants such as mercury relative to other fish that are commonly eaten by humans.
Commercial use of sardinesEdit
Sardines are commercially fished for a variety of uses: for bait; for immediate consumption; for drying, salting, or smoking; and for reduction into fish meal or oil. The chief use of sardines is for human consumption, but fish meal is used as animal feed, while sardine oil has many uses, including the manufacture of paint, varnish and linoleum.
Fishing of sardinesEdit
The most important gear is an encircling net, particularly the purse seine. Many modifications of encircling nets are used, including traps or weirs. The latter are stationary enclosures composed of stakes into which schools of sardines are diverted as they swim along the coast. The fish are caught mainly at night, when they approach the surface to feed on plankton. After harvesting, the fish are submerged in brine while they are transported to shore.