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Pollock, Alaska, Walleye

Theragra chalcogramma

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Pelagic trawl
Capture area - North West Pacific (FAO 61)
Stock area - Western Bering Sea
Stock detail - Western Bering Sea
Certification - None
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 the least sustainable fish to eat and should be avoided. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find sustainable fish to eat.


Sustainability overview

The U.S. managed Alaska pollock fisheries in the eastern Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska fisheries were certified to the MSC Standard in 2005. In September 2013 the pollock fishery in the Russian EEZ waters of the Okhotsk Sea was certified as an environmentally responsible fishery. Pollock from fisheries certified to the MSC standard is the best choice when buying Alaska 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
Western Bering Sea

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Stock information
The Marine Stewardship Council has not certified the Western Bering Sea component of the pollock fishery. The biomass was above the limit reference point in the 2015 assessment, though about half of the target reference point. Some areas such as the OlyotorskiyKaragin population are below the limit reference point which could endanger the stock.

Management

Federal Fisheries Agency (FFA) is responsible for the management of the pollock fishery. Alaska pollock are also found in international waters where no country has sole jurisdiction. The Convention on the Conservation and Management of Pollock Resources in the Central Bering Sea is responsible for the conservation, management, and best use of pollock resource in the high seas of the Bering Sea. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing is a concern in the Western Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk, where landings of illegal fish are thought to be high. IUU fisheries have serious consequences for Arctic ecosystems.

Capture information

There are little data available to determine the impact of the Western Bering Sea pollock fishery on the bycatch, habitat and ecosystem. Though studies available show that there are low levels of bycatch (<2%). Some ETP species are caught, particularly, marine mammals and sharks. From interviews conducted with fishermen in the 1980s, in the Western Bering sea, around 6% of hauls caught high levels of Steller sea lions (high levels; an average of 10 Steller Sea lions caught per haul) and the other 94% of hauls caught a low level of Steller sea lions (about 1 per haul). The western Bering Sea trawl fishery may contact sensitive habitats due to the depth that the fishery occurs (down to 500 m). One study has shown that in the Eastern Bering Sea, pollock midwater trawls contacted the ocean floor 44% of the time. There are little data available to understand the fishery's impacts on the habitat. Bycatch in general is thought to be low, as are impacts on the seabed. However, the effect of bycatch and cascade ecosystem impacts on Steller sea lions is unknown here. This is an issue that is being dealt with in the eastern Bering Sea fishery under U.S. management where the species is protected under the Endangered Species Act, however no assumption can be made in Russian waters due to lack of evidence and legal protections afforded under U.S. law.

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.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Bass, seabass (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.

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
PCA_(Pollock_Catchers_Association)._2010._Information_Submissions_for_MSC_Certification_Assessment_of_Sea_of_Okhotsk,_Navarinsk,_and_West_Bering_Sea_Principles_1,_2,_and_3._Available_at:_https://www.msc.org/trackafishery/fisheriesintheprogram/exitingtheprogram/withdrawn/RussiaBeringSeapollock/assessmentdownloads_and_https://www.msc.org/trackafishery/fisheriesintheprogram/certified/pacific/russiaseaofokhotskpollock/assessmentdownloads

Fomin,_S.,_Belonovich,_O.,_and_V._Burkanov._2014b._The_First_Estimation_of_Steller_Sea_Lion_Bycatch_in_the_Western_Bering_Sea_in_1980s._A_presentation_to_the_2014_Alaska_Seagrant_Wakefield_Fisheries_Symposium_Fisheries_Bycatch:_Global_Issues_and_Creative_Solutions._May_1316,_2014,_Anchorage,_AK._Available_at:_https://seagrant.uaf.edu/events/2014/wakefieldbycatch/posters/fominestimationsealion.pdf

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