Anchovy

Anchovy

Northern Anchovy

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-European anchovy (Adriatic Sea)
OK
Low
High

MORE ABOUT EUROPEAN ANCHOVY

The silvery European anchovy travels in large schools, which help confuse predators. These small fish (reaching only 5-6 inches or 15 cm maximum) normally hug the coastline in shallow waters. Besides showing up at dinner tables, anchovies are used in fishmeal to feed livestock and other fish.

Commercial Sources

European anchovies are found in the eastern Atlantic and western Indian Oceans. In the Atlantic, they range from Norway to South Africa, including the Mediterranean, Black and Azov Seas. In the Indian Ocean, they occur around Mauritius, Seychelles and off Somalia.

Most anchovies sold in the U.S. market are canned European anchovies. The main source of European anchovies is Turkey. However, the major U.S. suppliers are Morocco and, to a lesser degree, Italy.

Note: Morocco, Spain and Italy are the world's leading producers of canned anchovies. Although Spain exports a large quantity of anchovies into the United States, it cans a significant amount of anchovy species other than European anchovies. ,Anchovy has a salty taste, often used to flavor other sauces. Flesh can be soaked in cool water to make it less salty.

Capture Methods

European anchovies come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with purse seines and midwater trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include lampara nets and beach seines.

+-European anchovy (Black & Mediterranean Seas)
Worst
Low
High

MORE ABOUT EUROPEAN ANCHOVY

The silvery European anchovy travels in large schools, which help confuse predators. These small fish (reaching only 5-6 inches or 15 cm maximum) normally hug the coastline in shallow waters. Besides showing up at dinner tables, anchovies are used in fishmeal to feed livestock and other fish.

Commercial Sources

European anchovies are found in the eastern Atlantic and western Indian Oceans. In the Atlantic, they range from Norway to South Africa, including the Mediterranean, Black and Azov Seas. In the Indian Ocean, they occur around Mauritius, Seychelles and off Somalia.

Most anchovies sold in the U.S. market are canned European anchovies. The main source of European anchovies is Turkey. However, the major U.S. suppliers are Morocco and, to a lesser degree, Italy.

Note: Morocco, Spain and Italy are the world's leading producers of canned anchovies. Although Spain exports a large quantity of anchovies into the United States, it cans a significant amount of anchovy species other than European anchovies. ,Anchovy has a salty taste, often used to flavor other sauces. Flesh can be soaked in cool water to make it less salty.

Capture Methods

European anchovies come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with purse seines and midwater trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include lampara nets and beach seines.

+-Japanese anchovy
Unrated
Low
High

MORE ABOUT JAPANESE ANCHOVY

Like other anchovies, the Japanese anchovy swims in large schools, usually near the coast but sometimes ranging far out to sea. This tiny fish only grows to 5 inches (13 cm) long and is used for fishmeals and oils, as well as for its meat.

Commercial Sources

Japanese anchovies are found in the western North Pacific, from the Sea of Japan to Taiwan.

The main sources of Japanese anchovies are China, Japan and South Korea. Canned Japanese anchovies sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Japan and South Korea.

Capture Methods

Japanese anchovies come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with purse seines. Additional types of fishing gear include boat seines and trawls.

+-Northern anchovy
Unrated
Low
High

MORE ABOUT NORTHERN ANCHOVY

The northern or California anchovy is a coastal-dwelling fish that swims in large, dense silvery schools. Northern anchovies only grow up to 6 inches (15 cm) long. It is commonly used as fishmeal or bait for other fish but is occasionally canned.

Commercial Sources

Northern anchovies are found in the eastern North Pacific, from northern Vancouver Island in Canada to Baja California in Mexico.

Only a minor percentage of northern anchovies are used for human consumption. The main sources of Northern anchovies are Mexico and the United States.

Capture Methods

Northern anchovies come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with purse seines. Additional types of fishing gear include lampara nets.

+-Anchoveta
Unrated
Low
High

MORE ABOUT ANCHOVETA

Like its anchovy cousins, the anchoveta swims in a huge school, usually in surface coastal waters. This silvery fish inhabits the west coast waters of Latin America that make up the Peruvian Current, which is vulnerable to El Niño. It grows to 8 inches (20 cm) maximum, and is an important food source for seabirds, particularly pelicans.

Commercial Sources

Anchoveta are found in the eastern South Pacific, from Peru to Chile.

Most anchoveta are used to make fishmeal for animal feed. The main sources of anchoveta are Peru and Chile. However, the major supplier of anchoveta for human consumption is Chile. Edible anchoveta sold in the U.S. market are primarily canned fish from Chile.

Note: Chile exports salted anchovy, the raw material for canned anchovy. In 1999, 3,700 of the 3,900 metric tons of salted anchovy produced were exported to Spain, the world’s second largest producer of canned anchovy.

Capture Methods

Anchoveta come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with purse seines.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
European anchovy (Adriatic Sea) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Japanese anchovy Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Northern anchovy Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Anchoveta Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
European anchovy (Black & Mediterranean Seas) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Eco details: 
  • Only a fraction of the world's anchovy catch is destined for your dinner plate — most are processed into fishmeal and fish oil for use in animal feeds, food additives, fertilizers and dietary supplements.
  • Anchovies, which have short life spans and reproduce quickly, are resilient to fishing pressure and remain plentiful.
  • Most edible anchovies sold in the U.S. are European anchovies (although small amounts of other species are also canned).