Pacific Herring | Oceana Canada

Canadian Marine Life Encyclopedia

Pacific Herring

Clupea pallasii pallasii

Also known as

sea herring, sild, hareng


Throughout the North Pacific, ranging from Alaska down to Mexico


Pelagic to coastal in cold to temperate waters

Feeding Habits

Filter feeder

Conservation Status

Not listed


Order Clupeiformes (herrings); Family Clupeidae (herrings, shads, sardines and menhadens)


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Pacific herring are a small and widely abundant fish that are very important to both the ecology and culture of Canada’s Pacific coast. Many other species rely on them for food, including larger fish, seabirds as well as marine and terrestrial mammals. Pacific herring also have significant value to communities, including First Nations. Some First Nations have stories and songs about herring that have been passed down to subsequent generations, demonstrating the long-term connection of Indigenous Peoples to this fish.

Pacific herring are a small, slender fish with an elongated body and highly forked tail. They are a silvery fish, with slight blue-green iridescence on their back, gradually becoming paler silver along their sides and then white-ish on their underbelly. Compared to the Atlantic herring, Pacific herring have lighter, almost translucent pectoral, pelvic and tail fins. They grow to be 25-45 centimetres in length; however, in recent years there have been shifts to smaller sizes of 20-25 centimetres.