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Sardines 101

Bumble Bee sources much of its herring, the species of fish used in our sardine products, from the northeast coast of North America. Herring are caught in the Bay of Fundy and Gulf of Maine fishing grounds. The herring fishery is seasonal with most of the landings taking place between June and October.

Watch a video on how herring are caught and processed.

How are herring caught?

The primary methods of harvesting the herring used in our sardine products are purse seine and weir fishing.

Purse seine fishing involves locating schools of herring and encircling the school with a large net that has floats on the top and weights and rings on the bottom. A smaller boat takes one end of the net and pulls it around the school and reconnects the net to the main fishing vessel. A cable that runs through the rings at the bottom of the net up to the fishing vessel is slowly pulled tight, closing the bottom of the net (like a purse string) to contain the school of fish. As the cable and net is pulled aboard the boat, the circle gets smaller and the fish closer to the surface. At this point, the fish are pumped onboard the fishing vessel where they are put in refrigerated seawater for transport to the processing facility.

Another method of catching herring in the Bay of Fundy is through the use of weirs, a passive fishing method adapted from the Native American Indians in the 16th century. Weirs are sets of stationary poles and netting placed near shore in tidal areas that act to direct schools of herring, which follow the flow of water, into confined areas which act as a trap for the fish. Once the fish are confined within the shallow waters in the weir, fishing vessels equipped seine nets encircle the fish and work to bring the fish to the surface. Once at the surface, a vacuum is then used to suck the fish from the weir onto a carrier vessel where the fish are put in refrigerated seawater for transport to the processing facility.

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