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The Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority (SFPA) recently published a new Fisheries Information Notice (FIN) on the identification of European sprat and Atlantic herring. The FIN can be accessed on sfpa.ie and by clicking on the following link: FFSU-FC-FIN-OC-11-23 Identification of Sprat and Herring.

European sprat, Sprattus sprattus, and Atlantic herring, Clupea harengus, are pelagic fish in the herring family. These species may be misidentified due to their similar appearances. Mature Atlantic herring are larger than European sprat, but when juvenile, herring can be a similar size to mature sprat.

The FIN details the various identifying features that can be used to differentiate between the species, and this is achieved by using photographs of European sprat and Atlantic herring. This includes the position of the dorsal fin relative to the pelvic fin, the keel, the shape of the fish, the size of the eye, and the projection of the lower jaw.

Operators handling pelagic species should familiarise themselves with this FIN to ensure they are identifying and reporting sprat and herring correctly. The accurate reporting of species is essential for the sustainable management of our marine resources. If you have any questions or require further clarification on this FIN,please do not hesitate to reach out to the SFPA at sfpafood&fisheriessupport@sfpa.ie