Alaskan Pollock

Gadus chalcogrammus

Last updated: April 24, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
Image Credit Alex Coan/Shutterstock.com

It's one of the most commonly eaten fish in the world

Alaskan Pollock Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Actinopterygii
Order
Gadiformes
Family
Gadidae
Genus
Gadus
Scientific Name
Gadus chalcogrammus

Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Alaskan Pollock Conservation Status

Alaskan Pollock Locations

Alaskan Pollock Locations

Alaskan Pollock Facts

Prey
Crustaceans, other fish
Group Behavior
  • School
Fun Fact
It's one of the most commonly eaten fish in the world
Estimated Population Size
Unknown
Biggest Threat
None
Most Distinctive Feature
Speckling
Other Name(s)
Snow cod, bigeye cod, copperline cod, lesser cod
Optimum pH Level
Unknown
Predators
Aquatic mammals, other fish, birds of prey, humans
Diet
Carnivore
Type
Fish
Common Name
Walleye, walleye pollock, Alaska pollock, pollock
Number Of Species
1

Alaskan Pollock Physical Characteristics

Color
  • Yellow
  • Black
  • Green
Skin Type
Scales
Lifespan
12 years
Weight
1-3lbs
Length
1-3ft

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The Alaskan pollock, also called walleye pollock, is closely related to Alaskan cod and haddock.

The marine fish species lives in the North Pacific and the Arctic Ocean and is the national fish of Korea, where it has over 31 names. Caught from Alaska to northern Japan every year, this fish species is the world’s second most important total catch after Peruvian anchoveta (a type of anchovy) and U.S. landings are the largest of any single fish species there. It’s the most commonly eaten wild-caught whitefish in the world and the third most commonly eaten fish in the United States.

5 Alaskan Pollock Facts

  • It is caught wild in Alaska.
  • Fishing Alaskan pollock fuels the Washington economy and the North Pacific Fishing Fleet.
  • Wild populations are sustainably harvested and responsibly managed.
  • It is one of the top 20 healthiest foods in the world, being a great source of protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 essential fatty acids.
  • Delicious, versatile, and popular, it is used in many different recipes including fish and chips, fish sandwiches, fish tacos, imitation crab, and pollock roe sandwich spread.

Alaskan Pollock Classification and Scientific Name

This fish species is a member of the class Actinopterygii, which is the ray-finned fishes. It is a member of the order Gadiformes, and the family Gadidae of the true codfishes, which includes cod, haddock, pollock, and whiting, with 12 genera. It is in the cod genus Gadus, of which there are four genera. Common names are walleye and walleye pollock, while alternate names snow cod, bigeye cod, copperline cod, and lesser cod. The scientific name Gadus chalcogrammus comes from the Latin word gadus meaning “cod” (from the Greek khalkós meaning “copper”) and the Greek word grammí meaning “line.”

This fish’s scientific name used to be Theragra chalcogramma. There is one species of Alaskan pollock. Norwegian pollock (Theragra finnmarchica) is believed to be the same species as the Alaska pollock, differing only in its geography.

Alaskan Pollock Appearance

On average, Alaskan pollock measures 12-20in long and weighs 1-3lbs, but can reach 3ft in length. Its body is slender and resembles that of cod and haddock. Black and yellow spots serve as camouflage to avoid predators on the ocean floor.

Alaskan pollock vs. Pacific cod

This fish is closely related to Pacific cod and so they are often confused for each other. However, the main difference is that its chin barbel is either very small or entirely absent. It also has more pronounced fins, a narrower tail, shorter lifespan, and earlier sexual maturity. Their habitats overlap in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, but cod also live in northern California waters and the Sea of Japan, both of which are slightly warmer. Alaskan pollock meat is flakier, more tender, and can lose its shape quickly when overcooked.

Alaskan pollock vs. haddock

Alaskan pollock is also related to haddock and they may be confused for each other. However, pollock has a greenish tint and a white lateral line, firmer flake, and stronger flavor, whereas haddock has black lateral line, black thumbprint on its side, finer flake, and milder flavor. Their habitats are also different, with haddock living in the north Atlantic.

Alaskan Pollock Distribution, Population, and Habitat

The Alaskan pollock’s primary habitats are the coastal areas of the Northern Pacific, Alaska, Russia, Korea, and Japan. It lives in Gulf of Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Eastern Bering Sea, Western Bering Sea, and the Sea of Okhotsk. However, its main populations are most concentrated in the eastern Bering Sea.

The waters this fish lives in are marine and brackish, with a depth range of up to 1,280m. It lives at the benthopelagic level, being on or near the sea bottom, mid-water and near-surface depths, and is non-migratory, although it moves vertically in search of food. This fish’s population is above target levels according to the NOAA. Its conservation status is listed as Near Threatened according to the IUCN Red List.

Where to find Alaskan pollock and how to catch it

This fish is usually 30-400m deep. You can find it in the north Pacific waters off Alaska, California, and the Sea of Japan. During the spring, you will find pollock has migrated inshore to shallow water to feed and breed, and in deeper, warmer waters in the winter months. It is during the fall where they are near the bottom of the ocean floor. However, it is usually caught at 50-300m deep. The typical fishing method is trawling. Bait that works best are sand eels and imitation minnows with lures between 15-25cm long.

Alaskan Pollock Predators and Prey

The Alaskan pollock has a carnivorous diet. It is a forager and will even eat other pollock. During the winter, the larger pollock don’t need to forage because they can better store energy and will consume more calories during the fall to prepare for it, while their smaller counterparts work on getting larger in size.

What does Alaskan pollock eat?

The juvenile Alaskan pollock eats zooplankton and small fish. The adult fish eats other fish, juvenile pollock, copepods and krill, which are two types of small crustaceans.

What eats Alaskan pollock?

Other fish, sea lions and sea birds are two of several predators that eat Alaskan pollock. Humans also eat Alaskan pollock.

Alaskan Pollock Reproduction and Lifespan

This fish reproduces by spawning and gives birth to eggs. It breeds ever year. The incubation time depends on temperature, with the period being 10 days at 10 days and up to 27.4 days at 2°C. The larvae are 3.4-4.4m long when hatched and float upside-down at the water surface, absorbing their yolk sacs once they reach 7-7.5mm or 22 days at 2°C.The juvenile (young) pollock are sexually mature at 3-4 years. This fish has a lifespan of 12 years and maximum lifespan of 28 years.

Alaskan Pollock in Fishing and Cooking

This fish has tender, flaky, mild, white meat with a low oil content. Its nutrition content is low in fat, high in protein, vitamin B12, and omega-3 essential fatty acids. It’s also mercury safe compared to other wild fish because it is harvested in the remote, clean waters of Alaska. Common Alaskan pollock recipes people purchase at stores or at fast-food restaurants are frozen breaded and battered fillets or fillet sandwiches and fresh surimi, including imitation crab, although like other fish, it is best eaten freshly prepared at home or at a restaurant. In Russia, people commonly enjoy it as pollock roe sandwich spread, which is just one of several possible recipes.t can be baked, poached, grilled, deep-fried, or pan-fried.

Some popular Alaskan pollock recipes showcasing the versatility of this fish are:

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About the Author

Growing up in rural New England on a small scale farm gave me a lifelong passion for animals. I love learning about new wild animal species, habitats, animal evolutions, dogs, cats, and more. I've always been surrounded by pets and believe the best dog and best cat products are important to keeping our animals happy and healthy. It's my mission to help you learn more about wild animals, and how to care for your pets better with carefully reviewed products.

Alaskan Pollock FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Where are Alaskan pollock found?

It lives in the North Pacific and Arctic ocean.

What is Alaskan pollock?

It is a type of codfish.

Is Alaskan pollock a good fish to eat?

Yes. Often eaten in the form of fillets, the wild fresh fish is best and has the most nutrition. This fish is also mercury safe.

What does Alaskan pollock fish taste like?

It has a mild, tender, flaky flavor that resembles Pacific cod and haddock.

Which is better, cod or Alaskan pollock?

When comparing the nutrition content of the same size of fillets and the fresh form of the fish, both are low in mercury. However, codfish is healthier, although Alaskan pollock is mercury safe. Not only does cod have more protein and lower cholesterol, but more thiamin, iron, niacin, folate, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and calium. It tastes sweeter, while the meat is firmer and holds together better during cooking.

Is Alaskan pollock the same as cod?

No. They are related but are two different species of fish in the same family of codfishes.

Sources
  1. , Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaska_pollock
  2. , Available here: https://www.fishbase.de/Summary/SpeciesSummary.php?ID=318&AT=alaskan+pollock
  3. , Available here: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/alaska-pollock
  4. , Available here: https://www.portseattle.org/blog/five-facts-about-wild-alaska-pollock
  5. , Available here: https://www.birdseye.co.uk/our-sustainable-path/captain's-fish-finder/alaska-pollock
  6. , Available here: https://fishingbooker.com/blog/pollock-vs-cod/
  7. , Available here: https://sea2table.com/blogs/news/hake-haddock-or-pollock
  8. , Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haddock
  9. , Available here: http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm?adfg=walleyepollock.printerfriendly
  10. , Available here: https://palmequipmenteurope.com/blog/2016/11/21/how-to-catch-a-pollock/
  11. , Available here: https://foodsforantiaging.com/alaska-pollock-vs-cod-a-comparison-which-is-better/

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