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Sardinops facts for kids

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A swimming school of Sardinops sagax
Scientific classification

C. L. Hubbs, 1929
S. sagax
Binomial name
Sardinops sagax
(Jenyns, 1842)

Sardinops is a monotypic genus of sardines of the family Clupeidae. The only member of the genus is Sardinops sagax. It is found in the Indo-Pacific and East Pacific oceans. Its length is up to 40 cm (16 in). It has numerous common or vernacular names, some of which more appropriately refer to subspecies, including blue pilchard, Australian pilchard (S. s. neopilchardus), blue-bait, Californian pilchard (S. s. caeruleus), Peruvian Pacific sardine(S. s. sagax), South American pilchard, Chilean sardine (S. s. sagax), Japanese pilchard (S. s. melanostictus), Pacific sardine, and Southern African pilchard (S. s. ocellatus).

South Australian sardine fishery

South Australian sardine fishery - total catch graph 1990-2012
South Australian sardine fishery - Total catch (1990-2012)

The South Australian sardine fishery targets Sardinops sagax and is the highest yielding single species fishery in Australia by volume. The fishery employs the technique of purse seining. Schools of sardines are encircled by a net up to 1 kilometre in length which is then drawn closed at the bottom. The catch is then pumped on board the fishing vessel where it is stored in refrigerated holds at below freezing temperatures. 94% of the catch is used as feed in Southern bluefin tuna ranching operations off Port Lincoln, South Australia. The remaining 6% of the catch serves human consumption, recreational fishing bait and premium pet food markets.

The industry commenced in South Australia in 1991 with an annual catch quota of 1,000 metric tons (980 long tons; 1,100 short tons). In 2003, the fishery's annual quota was set at 36,000 metric tons (35,000 long tons; 40,000 short tons). By 2014, the annual quota had increased to 38,000 metric tons (37,000 long tons; 42,000 short tons). The fishery's total landed catch peaked at 56,952 metric tons (56,053 long tons; 62,779 short tons) in the financial year 2004-05 stabilising at around 32,000 metric tons (31,000 long tons; 35,000 short tons) per year thereafter.

A key area of concern for industry compliance in 2004 was quota evasion. Quota evasion had previously occurred in several forms: unloading catch directly to tuna farms, failing to report prior to unloading catch and dumping excess catch at sea.


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