Norwegian Herring

Meet the Heerring

Norwegian: Sild. Latin: Clupea Harengus. The Norwegian coastline is vast – stretching from Skagerrak in the south to the cold, clear waters of the Barents Sea in the north. The climate, combined with the clarity of the water has created the ideal environment for fish. In fact, it’s home to several different tribes of herring.

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The silver of the sea

Herring has played an important role in the history of Norway for centuries. Our first fisheries began over a 1000 years ago and we have been one of Europe’s biggest suppliers of herring ever since. While times have changed – customers now prefer frozen fillets to salted and smoked herring – the herring industry remains vital to our economy today. In fact, the importance of this fish within our economy, combined with its striking appearance, has earned herring the nickname ‘the silver of the sea’.

With centuries of experience in harvesting this silvery fish, we know that where you catch herring makes a real difference to its taste. We’d like to share some of this knowledge with you, so that you know what to look for and when to buy.

Meet the herring family

Herring is a pelagic fish, a categorisation that takes its name from the pelagic zone of the sea where the fish lives – neither close to the seabed, nor the shore. Pelagic fish come in a variety of sizes – from small species, such as herring and sardines, to large predator species, such as the southern bluefin tuna and oceanic sharks.


Pelagic fish are typically streamlined, which enables them to swim at speed through coastal and open water. Herring often travel in large shoals of millions of fish and swim in depths of up to 200m. Thanks to its ability to cover great distances, the herring family is large and contains several different species. Here we will focus on herring found in Norwegian waters – the Norwegian spring spawning herring and North Sea herring.

Infographic showing fish swimming westward

Herring fast facts

Age                     Up to 25 years

Length                Up to 40 cm

Weight                Up to 500 g

Norwegian Spring Spawning Herring

Norwegian spring spawning herring is the biggest and fattest herring there is. For this reason it makes a fantastic choice for the dinner plate and in commercial recipes. The peak fishing period is in the autumn when the fat content of the fish is at its highest – up to 30%. This enhances both the flavour and the nutritional content of the fish. In fact, the Norwegian spring spawning herring is almost unrivalled in its health-promoting nutrients. To find out more about the links between the fat levels in herring and omega-3, please see our dedicated nutrition page.

Distribution of Norwegian spring spawning herring. Growing up area: The Barents sea. Spawning area: The Norwegian coast. Wintering areas (adult): Outside the Norwegian coast. Feeding area: Norwegian sea.

North Sea Herring

Map showing where North Sea herring lives: North sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat

Infographic fish eggs

January - August

Infographic herring fat content
Fat content

Between 10 and 24%

Catch seasons

May-June and January-March (subject to quotas) MSC Certified

Herring in the food chain

Herring plays an important role in the overall ecosystem of our seas.