Certifier : 
Control Union (UK) Limited
Certified status : 
Combined with another assessment
Certified since : 
25 Jun 2009
Certificate expires : 
07 Jul 2020


Fisheries are composed of one or more parts, each of which is entitled to receive an MSC certificate. These parts or “units” are defined by their target stock(s), fishing gear type(s) and if relevant vessel type(s), and the fishing fleets or groups of vessels.


Some or all units that participated in this fishery are now covered by another assessment. Please see the PFA, SPSG, SPFPO, DFPO and DPPO North Sea Herring for more information.

Units of Certification & Certificate Information

  • No longer in the program
    MSC UoC Number Species Gear Type Ocean Area Status (Units of Certification)
    UoC-0010 Herring (Clupea harengus) Surrounding Nets - With purse lines (purse seines) 27 (Atlantic, Northeast) Withdrawn
    UoC-0011 Herring (Clupea harengus) Trawls - Midwater trawls 27 (Atlantic, Northeast) Withdrawn

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Catch by Species

Species Reported Catch Year Metric Tonnes
Herring (Clupea harengus) 2017 103.4

Information is provided by an independent Conformity Assessment Body as live weight (the weight of species at the time of catch, before processing) and where a fishing season covers multiple years, the end year is given as the reported catch year. Additional information is available in the latest report, see the assessments page.

About this Fishery

The North Sea herring fishery targets Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), a species found throughout the North Atlantic, from the Gulf of Maine to the Gulf of St Lawrence off the east coast of North America, around Iceland, and from the Barents Sea to the English Channel and Celtic Sea in the Northeast Atlantic. 

In the North Sea, herring spawn in coastal waters in areas where the substrate consists of gravel and small stones. These spawning grounds are relatively small and well defined. This fishery, operated by the Danish Pelagic Producers Organisation (DPPO) and the Danish Fishermen’s Producer Organization (DFPO), targets autumn spawning stock in the North Sea and Eastern Channel.

Herring is a central component in the North Sea food web. Herring feeds mainly on zooplankton and juvenile fish, and is an important prey for piscivorous species including cod, saithe, whiting, mackerel, sea birds and marine mammals. 

Herring are targeted by mid-water or pelagic trawls, or purse seine nets. The purse seine technique involves setting  a large net around a shoal of fish, closing the bottom of the net to form a “purse”, and then drawing in the net to the vessel. 

Neither method has an impact on the seabed. As herring form single-species shoals, bycatch of other species is minimal.

Herring processing image © MSC

Market Information

The herring is sold as either frozen or fresh at auction or to processing industries, mainly in Norway and Germany.