Sardines are small epipelagic fish that sometimes migrate along the coast in large schools. They are an important forage fish for larger forms of marine life.
Global commercial capture of sardines in tonnes reported by the FAO 1950–2009[1]

Sardine and pilchard are common names for various species of small, oily forage fish in the herring family Clupeidae.[2] The term 'sardine' was first used in English during the early 15th century; a somewhat dubious folk etymology says it comes from the Italian island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once supposedly abundant.[3][4][5]

The terms 'sardine' and 'pilchard' are not precise, and what is meant depends on the region. The United Kingdom's Sea Fish Industry Authority, for example, classifies sardines as young pilchards.[6] One criterion suggests fish shorter in length than 15 cm (6 in) are sardines, and larger fish are pilchards.[7]

The FAO/WHO Codex standard for canned sardines cites 21 species that may be classed as sardines.[8] FishBase, a database of information about fish, calls at least six species pilchards, over a dozen just sardines, and many more with the two basic names qualified by various adjectives.

  1. ^ "FAO Fisheries & Aquaculture – FI fact sheet search". Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  2. ^ "What's an oily fish?". Food Standards Agency. 24 June 2004. Archived from the original on 10 December 2010.
  3. ^ "Sardine | Origin and meaning of sardine by Online Etymology Dictionary". Archived from the original on 22 August 2011. Retrieved 10 August 2018.
  4. ^ "Sardine". The Good Food Glossary. BBC Worldwide. 2009. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  5. ^ "Sarda, Sardina". Dizionario Etimologico Online.
  6. ^ "FAQs". Seafish. Archived from the original on 22 July 2011. Retrieved 22 February 2010.
  7. ^ Stummer, Robin (17 August 2003). "Who are you calling pilchard? It's 'Cornish sardine' to you..." The Independent. Archived from the original on 12 September 2010. Retrieved 1 November 2009.
  8. ^ "Codex standard for canned sardines and sardine-type products codex stan 94 –1981 REV. 1–1995" (PDF). Codex Alimentarius. FAO/WHO Codex Alimentarius Commission. pp. 1–7. Archived (PDF) from the original on 25 March 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2007.

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