Fisheries Infosite

Pilchards Challenger (PIL7)
Maori name
Mohimohi (Northern tribes)
Scientific name
Sardinops sagax

Physical characteristics

Pilchard has a blue/green top with silvery sides and up to 14 black spots along the sides. Adult Pilchard grow up to a length of 25 cm.

Life cycle

Pilchard have a maximum age of 6 years. They are a fast-growing and short-lived species. Sexual maturity is reached at 2 years old and spawning occurs through all seasons in the North Island, but only in late spring and early summer in the South Island.


In New Zealand, Pilchards are mostly found around Northern and Central New Zealand. They live inshore, mainly in areas such as gulfs, bays and harbours. They are planktonic feeders.

Key statistics
Recreational significance Low
Customary significance Low
Reported commercial catch1 (tonnes)
Quota value estimate2 (NZ$m)
Exports estimate2 (NZ$m)
1 Reported commercial catch is calculated for the 12 month period to 30/09/2025
2 Quota value and exports are calculated pro-rata to reported commercial catch for the 12 month period to 30/09/2025