Sand eel fishing (Danish: tobisfiskeri)


The sand eel is a slim fish (10-20 cm) living in seawater at 10 to 100 m depth in Northern Europe. The fish is mostly used for industrial purposes (fish meal and oil) and is one of the most important catches for Danish fishermen in terms of mass as well as value

Process description

The present data refer to sand eel fishing in Esbjerg in May and June (the peak season for sand eel fishing) 2000. The sand eel is caught in the North Sea by trawling with fishing vessels ranging from 150 to 600 BT (brutto ton). The fishing vessels are generally old (average 25 to 30 years), but diesel engines are generally modern and well maintained. The sand eels are stored in the trunk of the fishing vessels and the fish are unloaded in the harbour without treatment.

Data collection and treatment

Data collection:

According to the national law, Danish fishermen are reporting diesel consumption and catch size for every fishing event. The revision firm "Revision Vestkysten" is currently collecting this information and the company has served as data supplier. The data collection covers 12 fishing vessels and 76 fishing events.

Data treatment:

Average diesel, ice and lubricant oil consumption per kg of catch have been calculated.
Emissions to air from fishing vessel’s diesel engines have been estimated by multiplying diesel consumption with emission factors specific for European fishing vessels (European Environment Agency, 2001). It has been assumed that all vessels have “middle speed engines”. The sulphur content of diesel, which determines SOx has been estimated to 0.15% based on records from Texaco Esbjerg, one of the main diesel suppliers to the fishing fleet. The sand eel catch is close to 100% in the considered period of the year and hence no secondary catch has been taken into account.

Technical scope

Diesel consumption and air emissions due to steaming to and from the harbour as well as the fishing operation are included.


Sand eel catching technology is quite uniform in Denmark. However, important factors for diesel consumption such as 1) sizes of fishing vessels, 2) distances to fishing site and 3) fishing depth varies geographically. The present dataset represents 18.3 % of sand eel caught in Esbjerg in May to June 2000, 12.2% of sand eel caught in Esbjerg on a yearly basis and about 5% of sand eel caught in Denmark. Hence, the data set is very representative to local conditions in Esbjerg whereas the representativity on a countrywide scale is unknown. Refer to wild fish for data on a industrial fish fishery on a national scale.


Diesel consumption for sand eel catching in Esbjerg in May and June has been compared with diesel consumption for industrial fish catching in Denmark all the year. The data recorded in the present datasheet are 20% lower than the national data. The differences can be explained by the high efficiency of sand eel fishery in May and June.

Inputs and outputs

Inputs and outputs  associated with sand eel fishing. Data are provided per kg sand eel
(natural wet weight) unloaded in the harbour.

    Unit Quantity



Diesel liter 0.049
Lubricant oil liter 0.00054
Ice kg 0.15
Sand eel in the sea kg 1.0
Nylon (for nets) g 0.062
Polypropylene (for nets) g 0.035








Sand eel unloaded in the harbor kg 1.0
CO2 g 130
CO g 0.31
NOx g 2.4
SOx g 0.12
NMVOC g 0.099
N2O g 0.003
CH4  g 0.012

Location in database: Material/Food from primary sectors/Fishery/sand eel, ex harbour

Administrative information

Data URL:
Version no.: 1.00
Authors: Erik Olesen,
Højmarkslaboratoriet and Per H. Nielsen, 2.-0 LCA Consultants.
Data entry: Data have been entered in this format by Erik Olesen and Per H. Nielsen
Data completed: July 2003.


European Environment Agency (2001): EMEP/CORINAIR Emission Inventory Guidebook - 3rd edition. Technical report No 30. ( Group 8: Other mobile sources ).