Spratts / Brisling Sardine – Fraserburg

C100333, C100337, C100338, C100340, C100342, C100343, C100344, c100349, C100355, IFC-001, IFC-005, IFC-006, IFC-007, IFC-008, IFC-011, IFC-014, IFC-015, IFC-017, IFC001, IFC005, IFC006, IFC007, IFC008, IFC011, IFC014, IFC015, and IFC017

The Product

General Name: Spratts / Brisling Sardine – Fraserburg


Alternative names: Sprat, Brisling, Sild



The fishers

Operating within the scenic sea lochs on the west coast of Scotland, the F/V Caralisa and F/V Rebecca Jeneen caught your sardines. These vessels are small artisanal boats 16M long/4M wide that are typically pair trawling during the night. Fishing usually takes place in the winter months when fish quality is at a premium.


Port: Fraserburg

Authority: Scotland/United Kingdom

Seasonal information: Fishing in late autumn and winter months

The Method

Pelagic Pair Trawl

Pair trawling is a variation of pelagic trawling with the trawl net extended between two boats moving alongside each other. Pelagic pair trawls are towed in mid-water to target schools of sardine with the depth of the net controlled by altering towing speed and/or cable length. Two vessels pull the net keeping its mouth open. A heavier ground line on the bottom of the net and lighter float line cause the net to open vertically. These trawls are not designed to contact the seafloor.

The Species

Spratts/ Brisling sardine

The Bristling sardine breeds at 20 to 25 metres below sea level, ranging from the shore to as far as 100 km out to sea. They breed in April in the English Channel and from June to August further North on both sides of the UK coast. The Bristling sardine feeds mainly on planktonic crustaceans, but also larger organisms. The Bristling sardine, also known as European sprat, is a migratory, ocean-dwelling fish that can be found in the Northeast Atlantic from the North Sea southward to Morocco and the Mediterranean and Black Sea. These fish form in schools at depths between 25 to 100 metres during the day, rising to 10 to 35 metres at night.

The Location:

West Coast of Scotland



Resource Management: This is a small volume fishery with low commercial value in all aspect – volumes caught, value landed and number of boats engaged. As a result the science is limited. ICES has produced a small advise note with a suggested TAC of 2800 tonnes ( accessed 06/01/2021). The upshot is insufficient data for stock trends, exploitation, no reference points, uncertain landings with many vessels of less than 10m left. The Marine Conservation Society as a result gives this fishery a 4 on a scale of 5 points with 5 been bad. Insufficient science however going hand in hand with with a small scale local/coastal and artisan fishery is not a usable negative for Fish4Ever especially and we emphasise this in human food fisheries (as opposed to fish ground into fishmeal or fish oil) – almost all the relevant tick boxes of real sustainability ARE applied excepting stock knowledge. ICES suggests the biomass of spratts “exceeds the average catches by several orders of magnitude” and spratt is at the bottom of the trophic chain, fast growing and very fecund and according to the IUCN Red list a species of least concern, i.e. abundant and not endangered (

Local Management: Marine Scotland which is part of the Scottish government as marine resources are a devolved responsibility, working with UK government. Post Brexit arrangements and management uncertain.

Monitoring & Traceability: Logbooks and records on landing.

Conservation Measures: Formed of several marine protected areas, both coastal and further out, the West of Scotland MPA is the biggest MPA located in national waters in the entire North-East Atlantic and underpinned by the powers in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. ( – accessed 06/01/2021)

By-catch/discard: The wider sprat fishery is estimated to have a discard rate of only 1% . No records on our specific boats but method and application known as highly targetted/selective.

Endangered Species: No impact

Eco-system damage: None

How is it made?

Spratts are part of the sardine family and also known as brisling sardines. Packed and prepared in Fraserburgh, North of Aberdeen.

Production: Small local boats, Scottish flagged and controlled, coastal fishing. Locally owned and managed factory – the last fish canning factory left in the whole UK – a big reason we support this origin. Highest quality control audited standards and good employee care/welfare standards.

Social factors: No issues. This is a small scale artisan fishery packaged and processed as close as possible to the origin of the fish.

Political factors: No issues