Pacific Herring (Clupea pallasii)

A member of the Clupeidae family of herring, an important food for many predatory fish, and the principal food of salmon, the Pacific herring also has many uses for human consumption. Sold fresh, dried/salted, smoked, canned, and frozen, the Pacific herring is commercially caught in the eastern Pacific for its roe; it is marketed in Asia as an extremely expensive delicacy called kazunokokombu, in which the roe are salted and sold on beds of kelp. Pacific herring may be used as bait by anglers but are not a sportfishing target, although they may be caught (or snagged) by coastal anglers who seek to use fresh specimens as live bait.


Similar to the Atlantic herring, the Pacific herring is silvery with a bluish or greenish-blue back and an elongated body.


The Pacific herring can grow to 18 inches in length.

Life history/Behavior

Depending on latitude, mature adults migrate inshore from December through July, entering estuaries to breed. These herring do not show strong north-south migrations, with populations being localized. Like other herring, they school in great numbers.

Food and feeding habits

Pacific herring larvae feed on planktonic foods, including ostracods, small copepods, small fish larvae, euphausids, and diatoms. Juveniles feed on crustaceans, as well as on small fish, marine worms, and larval clams. Adults feed on larger crustaceans and small fish.

Other Names

herring, north Pacific herring; French: hareng Pacifique; Japanese: nishin; Spanish: arenque del Pacifico.


In the western Pacific Ocean, Pacific herring are found from Anadyr Bay and the eastern coasts of Kamchatka, including possibly the Aleutian Islands, southward to Japan and the west coast of Korea. In the eastern Pacific Ocean, they are found from Kent Peninsula and the Beaufort Sea southward to northern Baja California.


Pacific herring inhabit coastal waters, and during the summer of their first year, the young appear in schools on the surface. In the fall, schools disappear as the young move to deep water, in depths of up to 1,558 feet, to stay there for the next 2 to 3 years.