Certifier : 
Certified status : 
Certified since : 
29 Aug 2012
Certificate expires : 
29 Aug 2022


The greater silver smelt (also known as greater or Atlantic Argentine, herring smelt or simply smelt) is a long-lived fish found around the sub-Arctic rim of the North Atlantic, and as far south as the Bay of Biscay. Although catches are taken throughout the distribution, the three major directed fisheries in the NE Atlantic are off Iceland, the Faroe Islands and Norway. 

The greater silver smelt is a deep-water fish that swims in schools close to the seabed, typically at depths between 200m and 600m. Larger fish tend to be found in the deeper water. Greater silver smelt grow slowly, reaching sexual maturity at any age from 4 to 12 years, and reach a length of up to 70cm.

The Faroe Island vessels use lightweight semi-pelagic (bottom-skimming) trawls that are rigged and fished to avoid contact with the seabed. Research is ongoing to map out corals, sponges and other marine habitats in Faroese waters, and several coral areas have been closed to all fishing.

As a small-scale fishery, the impact of the Faroe Islands silver smelt fishery on ecosystems and fish stocks is low. However, as condition of certification, the fishery is supporting more detailed research into the structure of the silver smelt population in order to determine biologically sound harvest limits.

Great silver smelt (Argentina silus) image © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book