Sardines are virtually everywhere. Every now and then, an advertisement from a sardine company in the Philippines comes up on the television or on the internet. Plus, in the supermarkets, there are also the endless rows and rows of canned sardines filling the shelves. They are also a staple in smaller stores. Plus, of course, they most likely have a special spot in your kitchen.
These fish, needless to say, have become an integral part of the Filipino way of life.
Despite their ubiquity, however, very few actually know much about sardines. For one, what do they look like? If you try to imagine how this fish looks like, you will probably just conjure the image of a headless, tailless fish that swims in a thick tomato sauce. But their real appearance? That is, without the red sauce and all? Your imagination might come up with nothing.
Aside from how they look like, there is also the question of what sardines really are in the first place.
That is, how are they like before they end up on your plate, before they get canned in a sardine company in the Philippines?
If you are confused, then you’ve come at the right place.
What Are Sardines?
Sardines are small fish that come from the herring family. They are immensely plentiful in the Mediterranean Sea, Atlantic Oceans, and the Pacific Ocean.
Albeit you might not be familiar with how sardines look like (that is, fresh sardines), their appearance is actually quite distinctive, which makes them easy to set apart from other fish.
Their whole body is flat and covered with silver scales. There are specialized jagged scales in the center of its belly.
Even though sardines are often lumped as a single species, there are actually several known species of sardines. Here are some of them:
Because of how profuse they are, people have turned to sardines as a food source for centuries. Even now, sardines still find their way into kitchens. They are usually canned and packed in oil.
Because of their extremely cheap price, it might be difficult to believe that these fish are bursting with nutrients, such as protein, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, and tons of other vitamins. And don’t think that canned sardines are unhealthy—they are, in fact, considered to be more nourishing than fresh sardines.
The Life of a Sardine
Listed below are some of the vital aspects of a sardine’s life.
Sardines primarily feed on plankton, which comprises of miniscule plants and animals that are transported by the water currents. The sardines merely open their mouths as they swim through the hordes of plankton.
Sardines reproduce plenty of times in a single breeding season. The fertilization process is external—the eggs and sperm are ejected into the water. Eventually, these two will join. If they aren’t devoured by predators and other bigger fish, the fertilized eggs will then hatch in around three days.
- Shoal or School
A group of fish is called a shoal or a school. This group may consist of millions of fish. The fish huddle together closely to protect themselves from predators. After all, when they are all bunched up like that, it is less likely for them to be attacked.
The words shoal and school can be used interchangeably. However, fish scientists are more particular with the terminologies. Shoal simply refers to a social group of fish. On the other hand, fish in a school move in a coordinated and synchronized fashion. To put it simply, fish in a school might seem like they are a single creature, instead of an aggregate of thousands or millions.
A shoal might act as a school for a brief period of time, and then return to being a shoal again.
Moalboal Sardine Run
If you want to have a firsthand experience of witnessing these fish before they are canned in a sardine company in the Philippines, then diving into the Moalboal Sardine Run is your best bet.
The Moalboal Sardine Run is located in Cebu, and it is widely famous for its school of at least a million sardines freely swimming in the waters’ depth all year round, unlike other places where sardine shoals can only be seen for a few weeks.
The Moalboal Sardine Run is, unsurprisingly, a usual travel destination for divers, although more and more non-divers are flocking to it recently. This particular area used to be called the Pescador Island.
The sardines have now moved much closer to the shoreline. At a distance of twenty to thirty meters from the shore, the reef plunges off drastically—and it is in this spot where you are free to behold the millions of sardines liberally streaming past, where they also coalesce into various shapes and forms.
If you choose to indulge yourself in the Moalboal Sardine Run, you have two options: Scuba diving or free diving.
Here in Moalboal, sardines are also a source of livelihood for the local community—but not for the fish to be manufactured in a sardine company in the Philippines. On the other hand, they capitalize on sardines using tourism; that is, by allowing visitors to have a glimpse of their colossal sardine school.
Lastly, as mentioned earlier, the millions of sardines can be seen all year round, which means that you can observe this wondrous sight anytime you want.
Philippines: a Major Sardines Supplier
As established, Filipino are no strangers when it comes to sardines. Throughout the years, these fish have steadily invaded the kitchens and the local market, and it is hardly astonishing if you’ll find yet another emerging brand of Philippine sardines company making its way into the industry—on top of all the other brands available right now.
There’s a reason why more and more Philippine sardine manufacturers are appearing: it is because of how copious sardines are in the country.
More than that, Filipinos are also very fortunate. The fish produced by any sardine company in the Philippines, after all, are considered the cheapest in the world.
The smallest size of canned sardines—which is around 155 grams—costs ₱15, while in the United States, the usual price is more than double. Because of how extremely affordable they are, Filipinos turn to sardines as their cheapest source of protein.
So where are all these fish coming from?
A sardine company in the Philippines usually gets its supply from the Zamboanga Peninsula, which is a very abundant source of sardines. This peninsula, as well as other nearby waters, provides at least 85% of sardines in the country.
The abundance of sardines is often affected by the concentration of plankton, which is their primary food. Basically, the number of sardines is directly related to the availability of planktons.
In some instances, the number of sardines in the Zamboanga Peninsula is fluctuating, which is brought about by a number of factors, such as:
- Monsoon rains,
- El Niño and La Niña weather,
- Management policies, and
- Industry demand.
However, most of the time, it really boils down to planktons. As for the availability planktons, two factors come into play: the amount of light and nutrients present in the area. Where do these nutrients come from? From river runoffs and the surface of the ocean where the nutrients pile up.
This is where upwelling enters the scene—the wind shoves the water to the right because of the Earth’s rotation. When the gust of wind is parallel to the shore, upwelling happens. Basically, upwelling occurs when deep water is pushed to the surface by the winds—that is, the surface waters are then replaced by this nutrient-infused water from below.
This water is typically colder and, as mentioned, rich with nutrients—or, in other words, rich in plankton. Now that their food source is brought to the surface, the sardines won’t have any problem feeding themselves. During El Niño, upwelling significantly increases, while it dramatically decreases during La Niña.
It is upwelling that makes the Zamboanga Peninsula the foremost sardine source in the country.
Sardine Species in the Philippines
The Philippines is very blessed. Its waters are graced with a vast assortment of sardines. There’s the Sardinella tawilis, a freshwater sardine that can only be found in Taal Lake.
Sardines are preferably caught when they are already mature, which is between 4 months to 1 year. The breeding of sardines occurs from October to December and February to September.
There are six primary species of sardine in the Philippines:
- Sardinella lemuru
- Sardinela gibbosa
- Sardinella fimbriata
- Dussumierria acuta
- Ambygaster sirm
- Sardinella albella
Aside from these, sardine species are also called by myriads of other names, such as:
The Mega Global Way: Catching to Canning
Now that you know the sardine species commonly found in the country, what comes next?
What happens when they are finally canned in a sardine company in the Philippines?
Different companies have their own respective methods of manufacturing their fish, and Mega Global does it in its own special way.
Mega Global boasts a 12-hour catching-to-canning process. That is, the entire process merely takes half a day—starting from when the fish are hauled out of the ocean to when they are already canned.
This guarantees the freshness of the fish. You won’t have to worry about the quality of the sardines inside the can. This catching-to-canning process also ensures that you can get the best sardines in the Philippines. Aside from gushing with nutrients, they are also delicious and a pleasure to eat.
You do not have to worry that you will be eating sardines that will make you gag.
The Importance of Responsible Fishing
As you might already know, sardines are vital resources in the country. More than that, they also serve as a sustenance and nourishment to millions of Filipinos (and other people across the globe). Their relatively affordable price makes them a common food option for households.
They also impact the economy. In fact, in the past few years, sardines had generated a value of around 10 billion pesos.
Additionally, sardines also provide jobs and livelihood—from fisher folk to small-scale entrepreneurs to factory workers in giant factories. According to recent statistics, more than 800,000 fisher folk were involved in this particular industry—a whopping number of people which almost reaches a million.
And if you look at things in a much grander scale, well, sardines still play a crucial role. That is, they are at the bottom of the marine food chain, which means that larger fish species and mammals feast on them, such as whales, seals, and sharks.
Because of how significant they are to Filipinos and the environment they belong to, it is essential that these resources should be managed responsibly and sufficiently, so that they can continue to be harvested for years and years to come.
There are several things that serve as a menace to this industry. The most prominent one is over-fishing.
Years ago, the Visayan Seas were the chief producer of sardines in the country. Unfortunately, the sardine population in that area has horribly plummeted.
As a response, more seminars have recently been held to educate the concerned individuals about the relevance of protecting this valuable marine resource. More than that, efforts are also being pursued to guarantee the sustainable fishing of sardines—such as laws and regulations.
For example, last 2011, the sardines caught in the Zamboanga Peninsula experienced a decline of 44%, which forced the government to take necessary actions on fishing in the area.
Since then, fishing bans had been imposed—this was to ensure that the sardine fishing in this area remained sustainable.
One can only hope that the sardine management programs can really save these tiny silver fish. After all, if the sardines are unceasingly heaved out of the ocean before they can replenish themselves, then there’s no telling how long it might be before they start vanishing from the ocean one by one.
A Responsible Sardines Company in the Philippines
Knowing all these, you’ll want a brand of sardines that is not merely high-quality, but also aware of its social responsibility—at how its actions impact the lives of its customers, employees, stakeholders, and communities, among others.
If so, then Mega Global is here for you.
We are the leading sardines brand in the Philippines, and our exceptional facilities, as well as our in-depth knowledge and expertise, guarantee that you’re only given the freshest and most delectable canned sardines. Furthermore, Mega Global does not engage in illegal fishing. We adhere to the government fishing ban that protects our oceans from irresponsible fishing companies.