Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Pelagic trawl
Capture area - Northeast Pacific (FAO 67)
Stock area - Alaska
Stock detail - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands
Certification - Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Fish type - White round fish
The U.S. BSAI Alaska pollock fishery is well managed by a system of Total Allowable Catches and individual vessel quotas. Although bycatch is very low in pelagic mid-water trawl fisheries in general, measures are continually being developed and analysed for this fishery to reduce the impact of the fishery on other species (Non fish species include Protected species such as Steller sea lion and Prohibited fish species which include salmon and crab) of fish, such as salmon, which are reserved for harvest by other fishermen. In 2015 the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska Pollock fisheries entered full reassessment for the second timeand are the best choice.
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 3-4 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 90cm and attain ages of 15-17 years. A more typical age is 5-6. Found in depths down to 900m the species is also known as walleye pollock because of its large, distinctive eyes.
There are five stocks of Alaska pollock: Aleutian Islands, Eastern Bering Sea, Western/Central Gulf of Alaska, Bogoslof, and the Eastern Gulf of Alaska. Last assessed in 2013, no stocks are currently subject to overfishing. The Aleutian Islands, Eastern Bering Sea and Western/Central Gulf of Alaska pollock stocks are not overfished. The overfished status for the Bogoslof and Eastern Gulf of Alaska stocks is unknown. Alaskan pollock catches from US fisheries have been quite consistent at about 1.5 million tons a year, almost all of it from the most productive fisheries in the Bering Sea.
Alaskan pollock is both the largest food fish resource and largest whitefish fishery in the world. More than 3 million tons of Alaska pollock are caught each year in the North Pacific, from Alaska to northern Japan. 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), and account for about 30% of all fish landed in the US by weight. 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 science-based catch limits and under an ecosystem-based management approach. The fishery is acclaimed as an exemplary model of a responsibly managed fishery. In 2005, the BSAI pollock fishery became the 11th fishery in the world to be certified to the MSC Standard. In 2015 the fishery entered full reassessment for the second time.
The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) pollock fishery is a mid-water trawl fishery. Bycatch of target and non-target species e.g. Pacific cod, salmon and shark is generally between 1 and 2% of the total pollock catch. Bycatch of chinook salmon is under 15,000 fish since 2008, less than 200t per year. Non-chinook salmon bycatch, of which 99.6% is chum salmon, has averaged 134,000 fish per year for the period 1991-2010 compared to 18-19 million chum salmon taken per year in Alaskan directed fisheries. Shark bycatch has averaged 171 t since 1997 and is counted against annual catch limits. Steller's sea lions, designated as an endangered species in 1990, have been the subject of much controversy between environmentalists and fishermen. To reduce competition for resources, large near-shore areas around the sea lion rookeries of the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska are now off-limits 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. None of the closures affected the BS/AI pollock fishery. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) have recently developed a new program to manage bycatch of Chinook salmon that includes a lower limit on the incidental catch of salmon allowed in the 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.
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.
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.