Sardines, or pilchards, are common names used to refer to various small oily fish within the herring family of Clupeida. The term sardine was first used in English during the early 15th century and may come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, around which sardines were once abundant.
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. One criterion suggests fish shorter in length than 6 inches (15 cm) are sardines, and larger ones pilchards. Fishbase, a comprehensive database of information about fish, calls at least six species "pilchard", over a dozen just "sardine", and many more with the two basic names qualified by various adjectives.
Sardines use body-caudal fin locomotion swim, and streamline their body by holding their other fins flat against the body.
In the United States, the sardine canning industry peaked in the 1950s. Since then, the industry has been on the decline. The last large sardine cannery in the United States, the Stinson Seafood plant in Prospect harbour, Maine, closed its doors on April 15, 2010 after 135 years in operation.
Pilchard fishing and processing became a thriving industry in Cornwall, England from around 1750 to around 1880, after which it went into an almost terminal decline. However, as of 2007, stocks are improving. Since 1997, sardines from Cornwall have been sold as "Cornish sardines", and since March 2010, under EU law, Cornish sardines have Protected Geographical Status
Sardines in Moalbaol
In Moalboal we experienced large schools (like clouds) of sardines for more than three years and then they mysteriously vanished in December 2011. They were either illegally caught in nets for the fishermen’s Christmas bonus or they just decided to swim on somewhere else. There is some protection for sardines in Moalboal whilst they stay around Pescador Island which is a Marine Reserve – fishing with nets is illegal; fishing with hook and line is permitted in some parts of the island. The problem is that there is minimal active enforcement of the rules especially at night. As a result sardines are feely sold in the Moalboal fish market.
The is a plan for the Municipality for Moalboal to build a warden’s shelter on Pescador Island so that wardens can be stationed there 24 hours a day, however this has been on the planning board for several years. Funding should not be an issue as the Municipality collects a diving fee of Php 100.00 per dive at any site around Moalboal.
In 2013, the sardines have started to reappear at Pescador Island and are now in sizable schools resembling the clouds of sardines we saw 2 years ago. Some of the predator fish are also back; in particular, jacks are making a killing.
Video May 2013
Check out this video on You Tube taken by guests of Turtle Bay Dive Resort - Dirk and Srinda