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Pollock, Alaska, Walleye

Theragra chalcogramma

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Pelagic trawl
Capture area - North East Pacific (FAO 67)
Stock area - Alaska
Stock detail - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
Certification - Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Fish type - White round fish

Sustainability rating Click for explaination of rating

This fish, caught by the methods and in the area listed above, is a good sustainable fish to eat. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find similar fish to eat.


Sustainability overview

The U.S. BSAI and Gulf of Alaska pollock fishery is well managed by a system of Total Allowable Catches and individual vessel quotas. Although bycatch is very low in pelagic midwater trawl fisheries in general, measures are continually being developed and analysed for this fishery to reduce the impact of the fishery on other species (Protected species such as Steller sea lion, salmon and crab). In 2016 the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska Pollock fisheries received stock assessments and are the best choice. If choosing from fisheries in Russia, choose the Marine Stewardship Council certified pollock.

Biology

A member of the cod family, Alaska pollock is found throughout temperate and colder waters of the north Pacific and is the most abundant fish species in the Bering Sea, including areas under U.S. fisheries management jurisdiction. It is a relatively fast growing and short lived species and is sexually mature at around 34 years. Pollock have high fecundity or potential reproductive capacity female pollock can produce more than two million eggs over the course of several weeks. It spawns in early spring from February to April and they can grow to about 90 cm and attain ages of 1517 years. A more typical age is 56. Found in depths down to 900 m the species is also known as walleye pollock because of its large, distinctive eyes.

Stock information

Stock area
Alaska

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Stock information
There are five stocks of Alaska pollock: Aleutian Islands, Eastern Bering Sea, Bogoslof and Gulf of Alaska (consisting of Western/Central Gulf of Alaska and the Eastern Gulf of Alaska). All stocks were assessed in 2016. None are overfished or subject to overfishing. Most pollock is from the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska. The Bering Sea biomass is well above BMSY. In the Aleutian Island's fishery, pollock has only been taken as bycatch in arrowtooth flounder and Pacific cod fisheries in the past six years and biomass is fluctuating around MSY. The fisheries use many fisheryindependent measures to measure biomass e.g. trawl surveys and acoustic surveys. About 1000 t were retained in the Bogoslof fishery in 2016, nearly 170,000 t in the Gulf of Alaska, and about 1,340,000 t were retained in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands fishery.

Management

The US government NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the Alaska pollock fishery. Alaskan pollock is both the largest food fish resource and largest whitefish fishery in the world. Over 1.426 million tons were landed in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska, worth about $400 million. Stocks in Alaskan waters (Gulf of Alaska (GOA), Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands (BSAI)) are managed by a system of Total Allowable Catches and seasonal quotas, set by US North Pacific Fisheries Management Council (NPFMC). Scientifically based annual catch limits are established for each target ground fish stock, species or species complex and strict annual catch limits are set for each target fishery. Since the US extended its fisheries management jurisdiction to 200 miles in 1976, the BSAI pollock fishery has operated under sciencebased catch limits and under an ecosystembased management approach. The fishery is acclaimed as an exemplary model of a responsibly managed fishery. 100% of pollock fishing boats are required to host observers to monitor catches and bycatch, particularly to ensure that laws to protect Chinhook salmon are fully complied with.

Capture information

The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock fishery is a midwater trawl fishery. The pollock fishery is selective with target species in the fishery representing less than 1% of the total pollock catch. Discards are also low (about 1% of pollock caught are discarded in the BASI fishery). Pollock are an important prey species in the ecosystem particularly for foraging fur seal pups. Bycatch of nontarget species e.g. Pacific cod, salmon and shark is generally between 1 and 2% of the total pollock catch. However, the pollock fishery is very large and this amount of bycatch can still be harmful. There are many protected species in the region including Steller Sea lions, Northern Fur seals, Northern Sea Otter, walrus and some whale species. Chinhook salmon are of particular concern because they can be caught in large numbers in the Western Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea fisheries. Therefore, further measures to reduce salmon bycatch were developed in April 2015 which included more severe Prohibited Species Catch (PSC) limits when Alaskan Chinhook salmon abundance is low, reducing fishing quotas when bycatch is higher and mandating the use of salmon excluders in trawl nets. There are also realtime spatial and temporal closures. Chinhook bycatch in 2015 was about half of the 20032015 average which is likely due to the recently implemented management.

Shark bycatch such as the Sleeper shark have dramatically decreased over the last decade, though some species such as sculpin have increased in bycatch studies. Limits of shark bycatch has averaged 171 t since 1997 and is counted against annual catch limits. Steller's sea lions have been the subject of much controversy between environmentalists and fishermen. To reduce competition for resources, large nearshore areas around the sea lion rookeries of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska are now offlimits to trawling. These measures to protect sea lions have proven effective in a number of areas, but recently a small segment of the Steller sea lion population in the western Aleutian Islands was failing to recover at expected rates hence more fishery closures in that region have been enacted. Due to increasing populations in, the eastern segment, the Eastern population is now no longer listed as threatened. None of the closures affect the BSAI fishery. Spawning fish are often captured solely for their roe. The practice of stripping pollock for roe and discarding the fish is prohibited in the Alaska pollock fishery.

Read more about capture methods

Alternatives

Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Bass, seabass (Farmed)

Bream, Gilthead (Farmed) Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Cod, Atlantic Cod Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Coley, Saithe Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Haddock Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Hake, Cape

Hake, European Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Japanese amberjack, Yellowtail or Seriola

Pollock, Alaska, Walleye Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Pouting or Bib Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Sturgeon (Farmed) Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Tilapia

Whiting Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.


References
http://www.fishbase.de/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=1343&AT=pollock

https://www.npfmc.org/protectedspecies/stellersealions/

https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/pr/sslcriticalhabitat

https://alaskafisheries.noaa.gov/pr/stellersealions

https://www.npfmc.org/salmonbycatchoverview/

https://www.npfmc.org/protectedspecies/

https://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/Docs/2016/BOGpollock.pdf

https://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/Docs/2016/EBSpollock.pdf

https://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/Docs/2016/AIpollock.pdf

http://www.fishwatch.gov/profiles/alaskapollock

https://www.afsc.noaa.gov/REFM/Docs/2016/GOApollock.pdf

https://fisheries.msc.org/en/fisheries/@@search?q=pollock&search

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