If you have ever eaten a fish stick, then you have probably had Alaska pollock. This popular, mild tasting fish adapts well to many different cooking methods and flavors.

In addition to fish sticks and other breaded or battered fish products, Alaska pollock is used to make imitation crab, shrimp and scallop meat. With this range of appeal and demand, it comes as no surprise that Alaska pollock is the largest commercial fishery in the world. Try Alaska pollock as northwest fish and chips or pan-poached pollack piccata.

Also known as:

Alaska pollock, walleye pollock, and Pacific pollock.

Availability:

Frozen year round; fresh and frozen during fall and winter

Product forms:

Fillets, frozen and fresh; surimi (imitation crab meat)

Shopping tips:

Look for fillets that were frozen at sea—these will be higher quality than the fillets frozen in shore-based processing plants. If you are shopping for imitation crab, shrimp or scallop meat, look for a variety with a high fish content, and no corn starch.

Substitutions:

Alaska pollock can be used as a substitution for any whitefish, including Atlantic cod, Atlantic pollock, flounder or sole.

Recipes:

Northwest fish and chips

Pan-poached pollack piccata

Pollock fishery: Alaska pollock is typically fished using pelagic or mid-water trawl nets. More.

Conservation notes:

US Alaska pollock is considered an ocean-friendly seafood choice because populations are healthy, it is a well-managed fishery, and impacts from the fishing gear on ocean bottom habitats and other marine species are likely minimal. More.
Last updated: July 2013

Pollock Fishery

Alaska pollock is the largest fishery in the US (by volume) and is considered one of the best managed fisheries in the world. Most US-caught Alaska pollock is harvested from the eastern Bering Sea, with a smaller amount caught in the Gulf of Alaska. Management measures in the fishery include quotas, bycatch caps, closed seasons, as well as the requiring of scientific observers to be on-board fishing vessels to collect data. The fishery and the species are also the focus of an extensive amount of research.

Conservation Notes

Some fish species exhibit life history traits that make them less resilient to fishing pressure (e.g., slow growth and late reproductive maturity). However, since Alaska pollock is a fast-growing, quickly maturing species, stocks can sustain a healthy biomass in the face of a fairly high amount of fishing pressure.  

Other aspects of a fishery’s sustainability are how the fish is caught and how well management mitigates the environmental risk posed by the fishery. Certain types of commercial fishing gear can cause negative impacts to ocean floor habitats, and/or may catch an excessive amount of unwanted marine species (known as “bycatch”). However, the mid-water or “pelagic” trawl gear used to catch Alaska pollock is highly efficient and has a low rate of bycatch relative to the amount of harvested pollock. There are also a number of measures in place to reduce the fishery’s impact on species that are caught as bycatch (e.g., Chinook salmon), as well closures to mitigate competition with Steller sea lions. Although the extent of the pollock fishery’s impact to benthic habitats is not fully understood, pelagic trawl gear is not in constant contact with the ocean floor and imparts less impacts than bottom trawl gear, which is dragged continuously across the ocean floor.