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European Sprat (Coastal and Fjord)

Sprat are schooling fish that live in pelagic waters, and are seldom found deeper than 150 m. They often make vertical migrations relative to fluctuating light of day, and go to the surface when the brightness decreases. In the summer they occur higher in the water column, often near the surface.

Sprat older than 4-5 years are rarely observed in Norwegian waters; age 0 and 1 individuals are more common. Since the commercial fishery targets young fish, it is heavily influenced by annual variations in year-class strength. With good growth the young of the year can reach a size of 9.5 to 10 cm by autumn, and be recruited to the fishery by the 4th quarter.

Individuals become sexually mature between 1-2 years of age, depending on the growth rate during the first year. Spawning occurs in the fjords; it is believed however that most production comes from recruitment outside the fjords. Little is known about recruitment and migration of the stock. There are good indications, however, that sprat occurring in the fjords during autumn and winter form the basis for the next year's fishery.

Facts about Sprat (Coastal and Fjord)

Latin name: Sprattus sprattus
Family: Clupeidae
Maximum size: 19.5 cm / 54 gm
Life span: Rarely more than 4–5 years
Distribution: Widespread occurrence from the Black Sea to Finnmark, in coastal and fjord areas along the west coast of Norway; occur rarely north of the Helgeland coast. Principal areas are the Baltic Sea, Skagerrak–Kattegat, and the North Sea.
Main spawning area: Not known. Off Norway’s coast sprat spawn in pelagic waters of the North Sea, Skagerrak–Kattegat, and in the fjords.
Spawning season: A long spawning season occurs; the most important period in Norwegian waters is from May to June.
Diet: Mainly plankton/small crustaceans (copepods). Sprat themselves form important prey for species such as sea trout, whiting, cod, and other gadoids