About the Species
U.S. wild-caught Alaska pollock is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population levels for the Aleutian Islands, Eastern Bering Sea, and Western/Central/West Yakutat Gulf of Alaska stocks. The population levels are unknown for Bogoslof and Southeast Gulf of Alaska.
At recommended levels.
The Alaska pollock fishery uses midwater trawl nets that, although sometimes making contact with the bottom, have minimal impact on habitat.
The Alaska pollock fishery is one of the cleanest in terms of incidental catch of other species (less than 1 percent).
- There are five stocks of walleye pollock: Aleutian Islands, Eastern Bering Sea, Western/Central/West Yakutat Gulf of Alaska, Bogoslof, and Southeast Gulf of Alaska. According to the most recent stock assessments:
- The Aleutian Islands stock is not overfished (2020 stock assessment), and not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- The Eastern Bering Sea stock is not overfished (2020 stock assessment), and not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- The Western/Central/West Yakutat Gulf of Alaska stock is not overfished (2020 stock assessment), and not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- The Bogoslof stock has been assessed, but there is not enough information to determine the population size so the overfished status is unknown (2020 stock assessment). This stock is not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- The Southeast Gulf of Alaska stock has been assessed, but there is not enough information to determine the population size so the overfished status is unknown (2020 stock assessment). This stock is not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- Pollock is a member of the cod family.
- They can grow as long as 3 feet but typically reach lengths between 12 and 20 inches and weigh between 1 and 3 pounds.
- They have speckled coloring that helps them blend in with the seafloor to avoid predators.
- Alaska pollock grow fast and have a relatively short life span of about 12 years.
- As a result, they are generally more productive compared to slower growing, longer living species.
- Some pollock begin to reproduce by the age of 3 or 4 and are extremely fertile, so each generation replaces aging or harvested fish in just a few years.
- In the spring, pollock migrate inshore to shallow water to breed and feed.
- They move back to warmer, deeper waters in the winter months.
- The survival of young pollock depends on several factors, such as the availability of food, environmental conditions, and predation.
- Their survival rate is highly variable, which can potentially cause large fluctuations in the abundance of pollock in a matter of a few years.
- Juvenile pollock eat zooplankton (tiny floating animals) and small fish.
- Older pollock feed on other fish, including juvenile pollock.
- Many other species—including Steller sea lions and other marine mammals, fish, and seabirds—feed on pollock and rely on them for survival.
- NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the Alaska pollock fishery.
- Managed under the Groundfish Fishery Management Plans for the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands:
- The Alaska pollock fishery is a great example of how science-based management and monitoring can help ensure the long-term sustainability of the resource.
- The Bering Sea fishery is one of the first U.S. fisheries to be managed with catch shares and is often considered one of the best-managed fisheries in the world.
- Commercial fishery:
- The Alaska pollock fishery is one of the most valuable in the world.
- In 2020, commercial landings of Alaska pollock from the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska totaled more than 3.23 billion pounds and were valued at approximately $420 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database.
- A quarter of pollock products are surimi (imitation crab), almost one-fifth is roe (eggs), and close to half are fillets.
- The majority of the U.S. catch of pollock comes from the Bering Sea.
- Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
- In the United States, pollock are caught by trawlers that tow a large cone-shaped net through the mid-water.
- Less than 1 percent of the total catch in the Alaska pollock fishery is made up of other species.
- Bycatch of Pacific salmon is a particular concern because of its importance to commercial and subsistence fisheries. The relative impact of the pollock fishery on critical salmon runs has been estimated to be relatively low, especially since 2007.
- 100 percent of pollock fishing boats in the Bering Sea carry scientifically trained observers. They carefully monitor and count all Pacific salmon caught incidentally in the pollock nets. These salmon have never been allowed to be landed or sold by the pollock fishery but, when feasible, they are donated to local Alaska food banks.
- The North Pacific Fishery Management Council implemented measures in 2011 to increase incentives for fishermen to further reduce Chinook salmon bycatch.
- The pollock industry has developed several innovative approaches to meet these new requirements, including using NOAA Fisheries Observer program data to close salmon bycatch hotspots to fishing on a weekly basis and testing a new salmon excluder device for trawl nets.
- The Council improved the management of Chinook and chum salmon bycatch in the Bering Sea by creating a comprehensive salmon bycatch avoidance program in 2016, and continues to examine additional measures to minimize salmon bycatch.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Subsistence Fishing Regulations
In-depth profiles of the 196 Alaska communities most involved in Alaskan and North Pacific…
Reports summarizing costs directly related to management of the Aleutian Islands Pollock fishery…
Annual reviews of cost recovery and fee payments in Alaska for the American Fisheries Act (AFA)…
Environmental Assessment/Regulatory Impact Review for Proposed Amendment 109 to the Fishery Management Plan for Gulf of Alaska Groundfish and a Proposed Regulatory Amendment - Modifications to Gulf of Alaska Pollock and Pacific Cod Seasonal Allocation
Analysis of modifications to the seasons or seasonal allocations of pollock and cod to allow the…
Data & Maps
Walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus; hereafter referred to as pollock) is a semi-pelagic schooling…
Walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) are broadly distributed throughout the North Pacific with the…
Alaska pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) are broadly distributed throughout the North Pacific with…