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Sardine School

Species We Sell

photo by Bartlomiej Stroinski

Atlantic Herring (Clupea harengus) – in Clover Leaf's Kippered Fillets and Skinless Boneless Sardines, and in Brunswick products


Brisling (Sprattus sprattus) – in Clover Leaf's Brisling Sardines



A small, abundant, oily fish, usually measuring between 10-26 cm at maturity, depending on the species. Forms large schools in the oceans and migrates across great distances. Consumes plankton.


How It's Fished & Processed




Watch this video on the fixed gear weir fishery, a fishing technique used primarily by Brunswick and also for some of Clover Leaf's products.

Harvesting Methods

The FIXED GEAR WEIR fishery still exists today, primarily along Grand Manan Island and New Brunswick's Bay of Fundy coast. Modern herring weirs are similar to the early Native American versions. They consist of a fence of long stakes driven into the ground with nets arranged in a circle or heart shape.

PURSE SEINING is the process of catching schooling fish near the ocean surface by circling them with a net. Once the fish have been encircled, a wire (purse line) running through the bottom of the net is winched tight to "close the purse" from below.

MID-WATER (PELAGIC) TRAWLING is the process of deploying and towing a net at a chosen depth in the water column to catch schooling fish such as herring and mackerel. This differs from "bottom" (benthic) trawling, in which a net is dragged along the ocean bottom to catch fish like cod, haddock, and flounders.

Watch this video on the processing of sardines. The process is very similar for both Brunswick and Clover Leaf sardine products.

Fish Facts

  • The nearly 200 true herring species in the family Clupeidae share several distinguishing characteristics. Herring are silvery fish with a single dorsal fin, no lateral line, and a protruding, bulldog-like lower jaw.
  • Atlantic herring fisheries existed as early as 240 A.D. Nearly every culture along North Atlantic coasts, from historic tribes and settlements to modern communities, have fished for herring/sardines.
  • As a food, sardines are rich in minerals. They are commonly sold canned, but fresh sardines are often grilled, pickled or smoked.
  • Sardines make up about 12% of the total product by volume that Clover Leaf sells.
  • Herring are pelagic fish, meaning they inhabit the open sea and offshore banks for most of their lives. Adults migrate across hundreds of kilometers of ocean during their life span.
  • In the winter, schools of migrating Atlantic herring can join forces, forming massive expanses of fish as far as the eye can see. In the North Atlantic, people have observed herring schools measuring up to 4.5 billion cubic meters (over four cubic kilometers) in volume, with densities of up to one fish per cubic meter.
  • Herring survive entirely by feeding on plankton. Although they are opportunistic feeders, they mostly eat small holoplanktonic crustaceans called copepods.
  • Streamlined for swimming, the herring body is relatively deep and flattened laterally (side-to-side), with a distinctly forked tail (caudal fin). The compressed body and silvery scales serve as camouflage in the open waters of the ocean.

To learn more about Clupea harengussee the UN FAO’s Species Fact Sheet.