Heroes of the herring catch

Combining over a century of knowledge with the latest technology available, our fishing fleet is truly marvellous. Our colourful boats are the first step on the herring’s journey from sea to supper and our fishermen go to great lengths to ensure that this first step is a golden one.

Fishing village

A sizeable fleet

6309 fishing vessels

Three men working on a fish factory

A skilled workforce

9,924 people working full-time in the fishing industry

A man in a boat

A large employer

2,356 people working part-time in the fishing industry

Source: 2010, Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries

Purse seines are at the heart of herring fishing, as they enable our fishermen to catch larger shoals. What’s more, our specially designed ‘purse seiners’ (boats specifically for the use of purse seines) enable the fisherman to reach catches further from shore. The boats race out at the first sight of herring, ensuring we can make the most of the season’s bounty.

Catching Norwegian herring

Purse-seiner with catch

Keeping it cool

As soon as the herring is lifted out of the water, it is swiftly cooled on board and brought to shore. The proximity of the catching areas to our shores keeps our fish fresh, as it enables our fishermen to make multiple trips and reduces the amount of time that the fish is stored onboard the vessel. Once aboard, the herring is kept in sophisticated holding tanks (a large vessel can hold 12-16 large tanks), which use refrigerated seawater (RSW) to keep the fish at a temperature of around 0°C.

Gently does it

Delicious fish shouldn’t go to waste, so we’ve developed innovative solutions that avoid putting too much mechanical pressure on the fish. Our pumping solution transports the herring from sea to boat and then from boat to shore in the gentlest way possible. 

Once on shore, the fish is filleted or packed whole and frozen immediately. 

A forklift moving fish boxes

The fishing fleet

Norway’s fishing industry uses a multitude of different catch methods and our sophisticated fleet puts an emphasis on quality from the moment the fish is harvested. 


The sea fishing fleet comprises vessels with a cargo hold of more than 500m3. These include cod trawlers, ring-net vessels and industrial trawlers.


Coastal fishing vessels have a cargo hold of less than 500m3. Previously the definition of a coastal fleet vessel was one of less than 28m.

Active fishing gear: Purse-seine, trawl net, and danish seine
Passive fishing gear: Long line, net, and hand-line


The gear must approach the fish to make a catch. With the exception of Danish seine, fishermen who wish to use active fishing gear must obtain special concessions. This makes it illegal in fishing as a leisure pursuit.


The fish must approach the fishing gear to be caught. This is a conventional catch method, hence the vessels that fish in this way are called conventional fishing vessels.

Purse seine

This a ringed net that our fishermen set around shoals of fish. It is drawn shut at the bottom, trapping the shoal, which is then hauled or pumped on board.  

Trawl net

Trawling uses a large bag that is held open by trawler doors while the vessel drags it through the water. 

Danish seine

Danish seine vessels set a large bag around the fish, dragging it a short distance through the water before hauling it on board.  

Long line

A long line consists of a main line affixed at intervals with a series of short lines, known as snoods. These are approximately half a metre in length with a baited hook at the end. 


Net fishing utilises a net wall with a float line along the top and a lead line along the bottom, allowing the net to stand vertical in the sea.  

Hand line

A trolling line, or juksa, is a fishing line with a small number of hooks. It’s used to fish vertically in the water column.

A quality catch

The fishing industry is hugely important to Norway, and so we continually look for ways to improve the technology on board our fishing vessels. 

In order to make the most of the season, Norway’s modern vessels have been designed to make fishing as efficient as possible. We’ve also invested heavily in new technologies that preserve the quality of the herring. Our catching gear, loading systems and cooling systems have been developed to protect the fish during transit. 

Norway’s catching and loading operations have been designed to reduce pressure on the fish. This prevents damage to the fish – both the meat and the texture. It is also important to keep pelagic species cool, so our boats have large cooling tanks installed, into which the fish are pumped directly from the sea. 

How Norway gives herring the first class treatment:

Infographic quality


Preserved through technological advantage

Infographic innovation


We invest in ways to preserve the natural quality of the fish

Infographic showing swift cooling after catch


preserving quality the natural way

Selling at e-auction

All sales of herring and mackerel take place through an electronic fish auction system. The Norwegian Fishermen’s Sales Organisation for Pelagic Fish consults with the purchasing organisations to set the minimum price, terms of delivery and payment. The organisation also creates the rules and regulations for each type of fishing operation.

Purse-seiner with catch
Herring dish