Certifier : 
Bureau Veritas Certification
Certified status : 
Certified since : 
30 Jul 2010
Certificate expires : 
18 Jul 2022


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.

When the term “Unit of Certification” is used for fishing units that are in assessment, it refers to the “Unit of Assessment” or “Unit of potential certification”. Expand a status below to view the parts that form this fishery. To check the detailed scope, download the latest certificate or open the Assessments page to get the latest report. Find out more by visiting our page on Fisheries

Units of Certification & Certificate Information

  • No longer in the program
    MSC UoC Number Species Gear Type Ocean Area Status (Units of Certification) Certificate Code
    UoC-0175 European pilchard(=Sardine) (Sardina pilchardus) Surrounding Nets - With purse lines (purse seines) 27 (Atlantic, Northeast) Withdrawn MSC-F-31292 (F-BV-552727)

View glossary of terms

Catch by Species

Species Reported Catch Year Metric Tonnes
European pilchard(=Sardine) (Sardina pilchardus) 2017 15,887

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.

Eligibility, client groups and vessel lists

A fishery may choose to define the members of the fishery certificate. These members can be vessels or other client group members (e.g. companies that own vessels and/or companies that are named as eligible to handle certified product covered within the fishery certificate scope). Please refer to the fishery certificate statement on additional product specific eligibility criteria (e.g. product eligibility limitations, eligibility date, exclusive points of landing and the point where Chain of Custody certificate is required). Please consult the fishery Public Certification Report for product eligibility rationale.

Documents Published on Files
Vessel List 18 Oct 2011 2 files

About this Fishery

There are 20 active vessels in this fishery, which is located from 0-12 nautical miles offshore in the Bay of Biscay, France. It was first certified in 2010.

The Bay of Biscay sardine measures 13 to 25cm and has a lifespan of up to 10 years. Sexual maturity is reached at a size of between 10 and 20cm and the species spawns throughout the year, with two peaks in spring and in autumn/winter. Individuals from spawning in spring and autumn are mature in spring and autumn respectively of the next year.

Purse seining is a preferred technique for capturing fish which gather close to the surface. The sardines caught in this fishery are mostly 10 and 20cm in size, with the smaller size being well suited to the cannery market, and the larger size to the fresh fish market. The 10/20 category, targeted by purse seiners, corresponds to adults with a size greater than 17cm.

 Brittany sardine fisherman image © Margaux Favret / MSC


Market Information

The annual catch is estimated to be around 20,000 tonnes (2009). Some sardines are sold as fresh round fish to wholesalers, supermarkets and fishmongers; some are frozen; and some are canned. Frozen and canned sardines are exported.