Herring is a pelagic fish between 30 and 40 cm length. It is the most abundant fish in the North Atlantic. A close relative, the Pacific herring is also found in the northern Pacific Ocean.

The herring is probably the most important of the pelagic species, historically speaking. The herring catches of the largest stock, the Atlanto-Scandian herring, increased rapidly after 1950 and reached a peak of nearly 2 million tonnes in 1966 (hence its nickname “ocean silver” due to its high export value), but then collapsed almost entirely in 1969. Nonetheless, the herring fisheries had a huge influence on fishing technology as well as Icelandic culture, especially in rural fishing villages on the northern and eastern coasts of the country, where many Icelanders still look back on the herring period as the “good old days.”

The herring is both reduced into meal and oil, and frozen or salted for human consumption.

Jón Baldur Hlíðberg

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