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Varieties Sardinella brasiliensis Sardinella aurita
Size Slightly over 20cm
Season November to May
Packing Canning 125g, 500g cans
Storage Cool, dry, airtight containers
Transport Conditions Temperature range of 0°c - 2°c
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Guinea Bissau sardines are small oily fish that are rich in nutrients, widely consumed by humans and used as forage fish by larger fish, marine mammals and sea birds. They are a rich source of minerals and omega-three fatty acids. They are fished for immediate consumption, fishing bait purposes as well as reduction into fish oil or fish meal.

The word ‘sardine’ was initially used in the early 15th century in English. It is thought to have come from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia; an area where sardines were once abundantly available. The flesh of some sardine species is a reddish-brown colour. Sardines have a length of just over 20 centimetres and live up to ten years.

The waters of Guinea Bissau are pretty much untouched given that its archipelago – Bijagos – does not geographically, lend itself to commercial fishing. The size of this archipelago makes it the largest in Africa with 30,000 sq. Km of saltwater that is mostly protected. The place has diverse water and habitats and is one of Africa’s most extensive estuarine environment. As a whole, it is a prominent spawning ground. 

The Sardinella brasiliensis have a maximum length of 27cm and form compact schools. The Sardinella aurita, on the other hand, are round and ray-finned.

Sardines in Guinea Bissau are found in shallow coastal subtropical and temperate waters. Fishing season in Guinea Bissau is all year round but prime season runs from November to May.

Guinea Bissau sardines get caught at night. This is because it is at this time that they approach the water surface to feed. Typically, methods used for fishing involve encircling nets, especially using purse seins. 

After harvesting, the sardines are cleaned and transported to the shore while submerged in the brine. Brining is carried out to remove slime, blood and water from the sardines as well as toughen them, whiten the meat and salt it. The brining process takes an amount of time dictated by the size of the fish. The Guinea Bissau sardines then get dried in a current of warm air at around 38°c (100°F). The process ends with the canning of the sardines for export. There are four different ways to can, with each involving a heat treatment that lowers moisture content;

  1. The flaking or ‘conventional’ method – this involves steaming the raw fish from the brine tanks on trays or ‘flakes’, tunnel drying the steamed fish at 43°c – 49°c, cooling and then canning them by hand.
  2. The raw-pack method – this involves packing the uncooked fish into cans and steaming the cans in a steaming chamber at 95°c. The cans are then inverted to drain and dried in a blast tunnel at 110°F – 120°F. After, they get filled with oil and are double-seamed. 
  3. The can-cooked procedure – this is similar to the raw-pack method only that the cans are filled with brine before steaming and are steamed with the brine in the cans.
  4. The fry-pack method – raw fish, is passed through a drying chamber on a continuous screen conveyor that releases them into shallow wire baskets. The baskets get passed through a hot oil bath to dry them, and excess oil gets drained out while the baskets emerge. They are cooled to atmospheric temperature, transferred to cans, oiled, closed and processed,

Guinea Bissau sardines get stored in dry, airproof containers and transportation requires the consideration of a temperature range between 0°c and 2°c.

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Other Fish and Seafood from guinea Bissau: Guinea Bissau Mackerel, Guinea Bissau Sardines,

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