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Real Good Fish | Fish Species | | Fish Species | Bringing you the freshest sustainably caught LOCAL seafood!
“If we eat from our own shores, we're much more inclined to protect them, the water quality, and our marine environment.”
- Paul Greenberg, American Catch
Pacific Herring / Clupea pallasii

Believe it or not, Pacific herring is a keystone species. That means that herring have a disproportionately large effect over their environment relative to their abundance because they are an important prey species and an important predator.

Pacific herring prefer breeding in bays and estuaries,...

Believe it or not, Pacific herring is a keystone species. That means that herring have a disproportionately large effect over their environment relative to their abundance because they are an important prey species and an important predator.

Pacific herring prefer breeding in bays and estuaries, making the California coast a favorite location for them to spawn. A single female can lay up to 20,000 eggs in one spawn. Interestingly, most herring are not caught for their flesh, but rather over 90% are caught for their roe (the eggs inside of them) that is exported to Japan. Japanese traditionally eat herring roe, or kazunoko, at the start of a new year because it symbolizes prosperity. To fill their demand for it, the Japanese turned to the United States and set off a "silver rush" in San Francisco and Tomales Bays that led to fishing limits on Pacific herring in 1973. Since then, local herring have been harvested mostly for their high-priced roe, with the rest made into fertilizer, and fish meal that is fed to pigs, chickens, pets and farmed fish. It's also used for bait in other fisheries. Visit this article in the San Francisco Chronicle about how Nor Cal chefs are using local herring.  

Lifespan: 8 to 16 years

Size: 18 inches and 1.5 lbs

Distribution: Found from the surface to depths of 400 m. They also migrate inshore to spawn in estuaries.

Why sustainable: Well managed fishery with reliable stock assessments is recovering. Fishing is only allowed in Tomales and San Francisco Bays. Bycatch is low; roe is in demand while rest of the fish is underutilized

How fished: Gillnets or purse seines

MBA Seafood Watch Rating: Best Choice

NOAA FishWatch Rating: Not rated

Nutrition: Good source of vitamin B6, phosphorus, protein, vitamin B12, and selenium

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