Herring live in large shoals. They migrate along the coast and out to sea at depths of nearly 650 feet. They eat small crustaceans, fry and plankton and can live for up to 20 years. There are several herring stocks in Norwegian waters but the spring spawning is definitively the largest. There are also additional herring stocks off Iceland, in the North Sea and in the Skagerrak strait, among other areas.
Herring become sexually mature between the ages of 3 and 4. February/March sees the start of the migration towards the fields off northwestern Norway, where most spawning takes place. Herring continue westward on their migration for food, then head north and finally turn east as autumn progresses. The fry follow the coastal current north to the Barents Sea where they grow to full maturity.
Norwegian spring spawning herring formed the basis for Norwegian winter herring, fat herring and small herring. Major technological advancements in fishing equipment in the 1960s led to over fishing and the near destruction of herring stocks in the early 1970s. Herring then became a protected species and, with the aid of strict regulations, stocks have now been built up again and constitute a large amount of species fishing.
Most herring fishing in Norway takes place between October and March when premium herring are readily available. Herring fishing in the North Sea and Skagerrak takes place mainly during summer and autumn. Purse seine nets, pelagic trawl nets and traditional nets are the most important equipment used to catch herring.
Herring is especially rich in:
- Protein that builds and maintains every cell in the body
- Marine omega-3 fatty acids that prevent and reduce the development of cardiovascular diseases, and are important building blocks in the brain
- Vitamin D, necessary to balance calcium in the body, which maintains and strengthens the bones
- Selenium, an important element in an enzyme that fights harmful chemical processes in the body
More nutritional data can be found at www.nifes.no/en/prosjekt/seafood-data