Body elongate and fairly slender, belly rather rounded, scutes without prominent keel. No median notch in upper jaw (cf. Alosa ). Gill cover (operculum) without radiating bony striae (cf. Sardinops, which has dark spots along the flank). Hind border of gill opening evenly rounded (with two fleshy outgrowths in Sardinella ).
Eastern Atlantic (northern Bay of Biscay northward to Iceland and southern Greenland, eastward to Spitzbergen and Novaya Zemlya, also Baltic; western Atlantic (southwestern Greenland, Labrador, southward to South Carolina).
Herring - Geographical distribution
Habitat and biology
Coastal,pelagic down to 200 m, schooling, with complex feeding and spawning migrations, whose times and extent correlate with the various more or less distinct razes which can be recognized on morphological grounds (mainly numbers of vertebrae, finrays, scales and gillrakers).
Feeds on small planktonic copepods in the first year, and thereafter mainly copepods (especially Calanus finmarchicus and Temora longicornis), but also hyperid amphipods, euphausids, mysid shrimps, small fishes, arrow-worms, ctenophores and pteropods).
At least one population is spawning in any one month of the year, each race having a different spawning time and place (spring, summer, autumn and winter herrings; in 0 to 5 m off Greenland down to 200 m in autumn (bank) herrings of the North Sea; eggs laid on the sea bed, on rock, stones, gravel, sand or beds of algae or phanerogams (see also data under genus). Note: is impossible to summarize briefly the wide range of spawning strategies of Atlantic herring; the best reviews are those of Svetovidov (1952, 1963) for the eastern Atlantic and FWNA (1964) for the western Atlantic.
To 40 cm standard length, usually 20 to 25 cm.
After a strong reduction of the total catch in the 1970's (from 4 095 394 t in 1966 to 887 533 t in 1979) due to overfishing, the catches have been recovering in the recent years. The countries with the largest catches are Norway and Iceland.