Northern Anchovy fishery - Pacific Region

Integrated Fisheries Management Plan

Fishery Information

The scientific name for northern anchovy is Engraulis mordax from the Greek word Engraulis (European anchovy) and the Latin mordax (biting). Anchovies are members of the herring order.

The northern anchovy is easily recognized by its extremely long upper jaw. The fish is elongated, blue-green on the back with silver sides and belly. Northern anchovies reach about 25 cm in length and have a life span of about 7 years.

Adult anchovy prefer to spawn in water temperatures that range from 13° C to 18° C and most reside in warmer southern waters. In British Columbia, anchovy spawn in July and August. The eggs are elliptical with a length of about 1.5 mm. The eggs float, first with the major axis perpendicular and later with the major axis horizontal. Eggs hatch in two to four days, depending on the water temperature. Larvae are 2.5 to 3 mm long. Anchovies are multiple spawners, at any one time only a fraction of the eggs are mature enough to be released. Compared to southern areas, where spawning may occur over a period of several months, the duration of the spawning season in B.C. is short. Total annual production of eggs is about 20 000 to 30 000 eggs per fish.

Anchovies feed on euphausids, copepods and decapod larvae. Anchovies have two methods of feeding:

  1. filter feeding-the long slender gill rakers are used to filter planktonic food or
  2. particulate feeding-larger individual food particles are seized with a quick bite. The larger and more nutritionally valuable food items may be too fast to succumb to passive filter-feeding but are probably not fast enough to escape the sudden seizure of a bite attack.

In British Columbia, the anchovy fishery is small and mainly for bait. Located primarily on the west coast of Vancouver Island, the fishery is conducted by seine net.