Alaska Pollock

Alaska Pollock

Worth knowing about the Alaska Pollock

The Alaska Pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) belongs to the class of the ray-finned fishes (Actinopterygii), of the order of the cod (Gadiformes), the families cods and haddocks (Gadidae), and the genus Theragra. In French, it is called “Lieu de l’Alaska” and in Spanish “Colin de Alaska”. In the past, this fish was often confused with the salmon.

In 1814 this fish was named “Gadus chalcogrammus” by the Prussian zoologist, and botanist, Peter Simon Pallas.

Synonyms

Gadus chalcogrammus, Gadus periscopus, Pollachius chalcogrammus, Pollachius chalcogrammus fucensis, Theragra fucensis, Theragra chalcogramma chalcogramma nati, Gadus minor, Pollachius virens, Theragra finnmarchica, Pacific pollock, Walleye Pollock.

Another name that is also used for this fish is the Pacific pollock.

Related types

Atlantic cod, Pacific cod, Moride cod.

Fisherman with Atlantic Cod
Fisherman with Atlantic Cod
Fisherman with Pacific Cod
Fisherman with Pacific Cod
Salmon
Fisherman with Salmon

Specific Feature

  • The Alaska Pollock is often confused with salmon.
  • This fish can live up to 22 years old, but some of them even live to be 28 years old. They have an average weight of 6 kg and an average length of 60 cm. (They can grow up to 91 cm.)
  • The animal has a dark, spotty color on the back that blends into a bright, silvery-white color towards the belly. They also have a dark-colored oral cavity. Most specimens have a striking white sideline.
  • Their speckled color has a good camouflage that makes them difficult for other predatory fish to see when swimming low to the bottom.
  • It is a slender and elongated fish that is slightly curved on the sides.
  • Furthermore, three dorsal fins are approximately equal in length and close together, as is the case with the abdominal and anal fin.
  • It is also easy to see that they are related to the cod family because of the barbels that are located on the lower lip and the underside of the head.
  • Another fun fact: there may be a larger catch of Alaska Pollock three years after stormy summers. This is due to the turmoil of the soil caused by these storms, with many phytoplankton in abundance in the higher layers.

Images of Alaska Pollock and/or related

Dried Alaska Pollock Hanging On Wooden Supports
Dried Alaska Pollock Hanging On Wooden Supports
Atlantic Cod
Atlantic Cod
Alaska Pollock (See White Stripe)
Alaska Pollock (See White Stripe)
Alaska Pollock
Alaska Pollock
Capture of Alaska Pollock
The capture of Alaska Pollock

Video of Alaska Pollock

Also, check out this video: Alaska’s Pollock Fishery – A Model of Sustainability (Really worth seeing).

Where can you find the Alaska Pollock?

These fish live in seawater as well as in brackish water, and an arctic climate. They are mainly found in the North Pacific, from the coast of California to Alaska (what’s in a name?), the Eastern Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands,  Gulf of Alaska, Japan, Russia, and Korea (Western Bering Sea and the Sea of Okhotsk). However, the largest concentration of Alaska Pollock is in the Eastern Bering Sea.

There are also very small populations that reside in the Barents Sea, and more specifically north of Norway and Russia.

They love to swim in schools and close to the sea bed, and this at a depth between 100 and 1300 meters. Only when they go hunting do they go to the higher ocean layers. These schools can also be found on the coasts.

During the summer, these fish migrate north where they live close to the coast. In the winter months, on the other hand, they migrate south.

Their nutrition

The Alaska pollock is a predatory fish and eats benthic animals, such as crabs, and smaller such as sand eel and herring. This Alaska pollock special is that this fish contains a lot of iodine and Omega 3 fatty acids. But in other fatty fish, there is much more Omega 3.

Sand Eel
Sand Eel
Catch of Atlantic herring
Catch of Atlantic herring
Omega 3
Omega 3

How do these animals mate?

The Alaska pollock is only sexually mature between 4 and 7 years of age. The spawning season lasts from January to April in the area where they currently reside. This takes place at a depth of 100-200m.

The eggs are about 1mm in size and float around in the top 30m of the open sea. Then they swim further to the coastal areas where they live in the shallow water for 1 to 2 years. They feed on eggs or newly hatched eggs of other fish species and plankton.

During the first 3 years, the pollock grows an average of 15 cm per year, the following 3 years they still grow 10 cm per year. At the age of about 10 to 11 years, they are already 1 meter tall.

Alaska pollock in the human diet

For the European fisheries, the catch of Alaska pollock is very important and has been this for 30 years.

The catch is done by trawling fisheries (trawlers), which bring both fresh and frozen fish ashore.

Since pollock is not always valued, the animal is mainly processed into fish fingers, breaded whitefish products, surimi, or fish cakes. However, its taste and quality should not be inferior to that of cod. Only the color of the Alaska pollock is slightly grayer than that of the white cod. All existing recipes for cod and haddock can also be used for Alaska pollock.

These cooking methods can be applied to pollock: cooking, baking, stewing, poaching, roasting, deep-frying and baking in the oven (“en papillote” or in foil).

Alaska Pollock Filets, Nordsee restaurant Germany
Alaska Pollock Filets, Nordsee restaurant Germany

Enemies of the Alaska pollock

The Alaska pollock has several enemies, but the biggest enemies are the sea lions.

Greatest ennemies - sea lions
Greatest enemies – sea lions

Endangered species?

According to a report from Greenpeace published in 2009, Alaska pollock could become a victim of its own success. This fish is processed on a large scale into fish sticks, imitation crabs, and fish burgers. It is therefore clear that these fish species, like cod, tuna, and swordfish, will be seriously threatened in the future.

That’s why the ‘North Pacific Fishery Management Council‘ has decided to limit the catch to 813,000 tons… In 2006 they were still allowed to fish three times the number of tons.

The pollock was fished so much because the cod was becoming scarcer. In the US, the Alaska pollock became the most important fish species and the annual yield was about 700 million euros.

However, Greenpeace believes that the quota should be further reduced and that is why the environmental organization has placed the Alaska pollock on their red list.

“Iglo” (in the Netherlands and Belgium) is one of the largest buyers of the Alaska pollock, which they process in their fish sticks. Nevertheless, marketing director An Caers says the following: “We also want there to be enough fish, because otherwise our business activity will be jeopardized.”

Finally

This is where I come to the end of this article. I hope you found it interesting and of course any questions, additional information, comments, ambiguities, or untruths can always be left behind. Thanks in advance!

 

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