The crew of a fishing boat hauls a large net of white anchovies out of the sea in the afternoon sun

Spanish White Anchovies

On the hunt for white anchovies, the crew of the Seixo Tres unloads the afternoon haul. Cantabria, Spain.
Photo by Carol Studio

Our Spanish White Anchovies are more than just a delicious, mild-flavored seafood treat. They provide a truly sustainable fishery, support communities of small, family-run businesses, and are an easy, nutritious way to eat lower on the food chain.

Open cans filled with Patagonia Provisions White Spanish Anchovies

Nutrition: Eat The Bait

Most multivitamins come in pill or capsule form. Ours arrive naturally, in tasty, responsibly harvested anchovies. Vilanova de Arousa, Spain.
Photo by Carol Studio

High in protein, calcium, vitamin B-12 and a good source of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, these small fish pack a nutritional wallop.

Forage fish like our White Anchovies make eating lower on the food chain delicious and easy. And eating low on the food chain isn’t just better for the planet, it’s better for humans as well. The anchovy’s short lifespan and plankton diet means it doesn’t accumulate the high levels of toxic heavy metals found in larger, apex-predator fish such as tuna or swordfish. Anchovies are also an excellent source of protein (23 g) and calcium (up to 25% of the Daily Value). They contain a whopping amount of vitamin B-12 (as much as 560% DV), which helps keep both the nerve and blood cells healthy. Plus, each serving has more than 800 mg of omega-3 fatty acids, thought to benefit heart health in multiple ways. In other words, our White Anchovies are everything you love about seafood, only smaller.

A worker in overalls, red hooded sweatshirt and light green woolen cap holds up an anchovy and looks ready to bite it
When you fish with high-quality anchovies, you never know what’s going to take the bait. Jeremy Winkler strikes. Humboldt Bay, California.
Photo by Amy Kumler
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A fishing boat crosses the Bay of Biscay

Sourcing: The Spanish Solution

The white anchovy harvest on the Bay of Biscay kicks off every spring, as it’s done for centuries. In 2020, each vessel had a maximum daily quota of 4,400 kilos, an amount calculated to preserve the fishery. Cantabria, Spain.
Photo by Carol Studio

We harvest our Spanish White Anchovies from thriving populations off Northern Spain, using responsible, small-scale fishing practices.

The fishing fleet, based in the province of Cantabria, employs small-scale purse seines to minimize bycatch and ensure the highest quality of their harvest. Because anchovies shoal tightly together, the nets—which surround a school of fish and are then gathered at the bottom—can be managed effectively to target just anchovies, with very little bycatch as a result. The harvested fish are quickly transported to a fifth-generation family company, Conservas Antonio Pérez Lafuente (a certified B Corp that employs mostly women). There, they are processed and canned in extra-virgin olive oil with regional seasonings, turning this abundant forage fish into a fresh-tasting, shelf-stable delicacy. In other words, the exact opposite of the salty, dark-brown anchovies found in pizzas and Caesar salads.

A crew member in yellow overalls and blue and orange shirt hauls a net over the edge of a boat into the sea, while gulls circle around
No time to admire the sunset: As dusk sets in, anchovies rise from the deep to begin their nighttime feeding, and the Seixo Tres crew gets ready to harvest. Bay of Biscay, Spain.
Photo by Carol Studio
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European anchovies swimming in a school underwater

Enviro: Why Anchovies?

European anchovies (Engraulis encrasicholus) are obligate shoalers—they mass in cylindrical schools to increase feeding efficiency and to confuse oceanic predators. The tight shoals also allow fishermen to efficiently target anchovies with purse seines.
blickwinkel / Alamy Photo

As populations of large apex-predator fish like tuna and swordfish plummet, anchovies and other forage fish can thrive with responsible harvest.

Tuna and swordfish populations have been steadily declining since the middle of the last century due to overfishing. They’re long lived and slow to mature, meaning it takes a while for them to reproduce—so they can’t withstand the pressures of the global appetite for their delicious meat. Abundant fish that live lower on the ocean food chain, like anchovies, provide a tasty alternative. The anchovy’s short lifespan and quick reproduction, along with strict management, make these little fish an important and fully renewable resource. What’s more, they swim in tightly packed schools, which means we can harvest them with very little bycatch.

An illustration in white on a blue wash background demonstrates the circle of the undersea food chain
Illustration by Ilka Hadlock
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A view looking out over Cantabrian village San Vicente de la Barquera

History: The Fishing Guilds of Cantabria

In San Vicente de la Barquera, a Cantabrian village on the Bay of Biscay, the fate of the town’s 4,000 people is deeply intertwined with the health and productivity of the ocean at their doorstep.
Photo by Amy Kumler

In the ancient villages along the Bay of Biscay, in northern Spain, fishermen and processors work together to ensure a healthy future for fish and community alike.

All along the densely forested, mountainous coastline of Cantabria, small boats head out to sea, owned by families who have fished these waters for centuries. In this autonomous region of Spain, the fishermen who harvest our anchovies and Atlantic mackerel belong to traditional cofradías, or guilds, which date back to medieval times. The guilds share profits and best practices, and ensure worker safety. They’re also social institutions, with their own bars and festivals. This tradition of cooperation, with membership handed down through generations, creates a deep sense of responsibility to protect ocean resources, and the communities that depend on them, for the future.

Two workers in woolen sweaters and heavy working skirts stand together repairing a fishing net
No nets, no fish; no rederas (netmakers), no nets. Fishing is a communal activity in Cantabria.
Photo by Carol Studio
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The scientists and crew from the Good Fish Foundation stand on a beach, holding letters that spell their organization's name

Partners: Guided By Science

When the scientists and crew of the Good Fish Foundation take a day off from ensuring that we’ll have fish in the future, they head to—where else?—the beach.
Photo Courtesy of Good Fish Foundation

We work with Good Fish Foundation, of Veenendaal, the Netherlands, to ensure that Bay of Biscay anchovies, as harvested by the Cantabrian fleet, remain a truly renewable resource.

As one of the few major food companies that work in direct partnership with fish conservation and science organizations, our goal is to find solutions that help protect, rather than deplete, our home planet. Good Fish evaluates the sustainability of fisheries in Europe and works with fishermen, fish farmers, processors and retailers to help seafood buyers make environmentally sound decisions about what to eat. The group also publishes a sustainable seafood guide for consumers, advises chefs, and is working to ensure that by 2030, the Netherlands catches, farms, sells and consumes only sustainable fish. “Forage fish—such as mackerel, sardines and anchovies—are low in the food chain,” says Tatiana Lodder, Seafood Assessor for Good Fish. “There’s a lot of biomass and they’re much more resilient than the larger, higher trophic species.” Anchovies have emerged as a wise choice for the Netherlands and beyond.

A scientist from Good Fish Foundation stands in warehouse with orange walls and examines recent fish harvest in a green plastic container
As part of her fieldwork, Tatiana Lodder of the Good Fish Foundation examines recent harvests at the local fish market. Santoña, Spain.
Photo by Amy Kumler
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Two open faced sandwiches topped with avocado, Patagonia Provisions White Anchovies and fresh parsley, sit on a wooden board beside an open anchovy can

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Our Spanish White Anchovies are packed in extra-virgin organic olive oil and come in two savory flavors: Lemon Olive or Roasted Garlic.

Grey ceramic bowl filled with Patagonia Provisions White Anchovy Linguine with Toasted Breadcrumbs recipe on grey wooden table, next to cutlery and cooking pan

Delicious Recipes

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