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  • Dut: Ansjovis
  • Lat: Engraulis encrasicolus
  • Eng: Anchovy
  • Ger: Anchovis (Sardelle)
  • Fren: Anchois
  • Dan: Ansjos


Anchovies grow to a maximum of 20 centimeters. Their back is blue-green; their flanks are gray with a silver-colored stripe. They eat zooplankton and algae. Anchovies reproduce in brackish water. They used to be found in massive amounts in the Zuiderzee and western Wadden Sea. The large schools were always accompanied by large numbers of porpoises. The species lost important spawning grounds when the Afsluitdijk (Causeway) was completed in 1932. Since around 1960, the anchovies have practically disappeared from the Wadden Sea. However, in 1993, this species was found spawning again in the Wadden Sea. This was an omen that they were returning, since they are being caught more often in the North Sea.

  • Catches

    We are familiar with anchovies as a marinated delicacy on a tapas plate, or as a salty accent on pizza. It is the most important fish in the world for fisheries. Worldwide in 1990, 3.7 million tons of anchovies were caught; in 1992, 5.5 million tons and in 1994, 11.9 million tons. This catch contains primarily anchovies from Peru. In the Mediterranean Sea, anchovies are caught by luring them with lamps.

  • Former anchovy fisheries in the Wadden and Zuider Seas
    Catches of anchovies 1923-1939, Ecomare

    There were so many anchovies caught during the 19th century in the Zuiderzee that fishermen from Stavoren had developed a special boat to catch them: the Staverse Jol. The Zuiderzee was much larger than the present IJsselmeer; the western Wadden Sea was then part of the Zuider Sea. After the Causeway was finished, the anchovy fishermen continued to catch anchovies in the western Wadden Sea. But the yields declined and by the 1960s, it was no longer profitable.

  • Distribution of anchovies
    Distribution of the anchovy, Ecomare