Pollock Fish

Last updated: October 5, 2022
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff
© iStock.com/EddWestmacott

Pollock is a nutritious fish, generally readily available for human consumption, and more sustainable and affordable than other whitefish species like hake or haddock.


Pollock Fish Scientific Classification


Read our Complete Guide to Classification of Animals.

Pollock Fish Conservation Status

Pollock Fish Locations

Pollock Fish Locations

Pollock Fish Facts

Small fish, Crustaceans, Squid, Herring
Main Prey
Small fish
Group Behavior
  • School
Fun Fact
Pollock is a nutritious fish, generally readily available for human consumption, and more sustainable and affordable than other whitefish species like hake or haddock.
Common Name
Pollock fish

Pollock Fish Physical Characteristics

  • Brown
  • Grey
  • Yellow
  • Silver
Skin Type
Age of Sexual Maturity
4-7 years

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There are two species of Pollock fish in the genus Pollachius; they are named the Pollock fish and the Saithe.

Both species occur in the North Atlantic region, with vast populations of Pollock fish (Pollachius pollachius), in North America and the UK, while the Pollack (Pollachius virens), also known as the coley, occupies the British Isles. However, they go by many names, including Boston blue, Coalfish, European Pollock, and lythe.

In addition, there is another member of the genus Gadus named the walleye or Alaska Pollock. While they form part of the same family as the coalfish, their genera differ.

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The Pollock feeds on small fishes, sand eels, worms, and crustaceans on the ocean floor. In addition, they are fished for commercial purposes because they are a cheaper and more sustainable choice compared to whitefish like Hake, Cod, and Haddock.

Three Amazing Pollock Fish Facts!

  • People often refer to a different species as the Pollock; the Alaska Pollock does not belong to the same genus. However, they are part of the Gadidae family.
  • Humans eat this fish species, which is usually found in an array of everyday products. For example, Pollock is the fish used for McDonald’s fillet-O-fish sandwiches, fish sticks, and imitation crab meat.
  • These fish inhabit different regions depending on their age. For example, younger fish occur in rocky areas closer to the coastline because there are more places to hide from predators. As they get older, they will move deeper into the ocean.

Pollock Fish Scientific Name

The Pollock or Pollack’s scientific name is Pollachius pollachius, and theybelong to the order Gadiformes, a diverse group of bathypelagic fishes found worldwide. They live in cool to cold water, with habitats ranging from the ocean depths to the inshore coastal areas.

However, two species occur in freshwater. The order consists of 10 families and over 600 species, including several commercially important cods, hakes, and grenadiers. In addition, over half of the species belong to one family, the grenadiers, or Macrouridae, who dominate the benthopelagic fishes in the ocean’s depths.

Pollock belongs family Gadidae and consists almost exclusively of marine fish in the order Gadiformes. They are distinguished by their dorsal fin, which is located further down on their bodies, the absence of true spines in the fins, and many have extended dorsal and anal fins.

Gadidae is known as the Cod family because its members include Cod, Haddock, Whiting, Pollock, and Cuskfish. Cods and Haddocks are distinguished by their three dorsal fins and two anal fins. Members of this family occur in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Arctic Oceans, except cuskfishes, which are freshwater fishes.

Pollock Fish  Appearance

Atlantic Pollocks have a projection lower jaw, pointed snots, and a forked tail. Their bodies are brownish-gray, which fades into a yellow-gray, with a silverish-gray belly.

In addition, they have a small barbell that runs from their chin to the whiskers. Atlantic pollocks have big eyes, three dorsal fins, and elongated and slender bodies.

Their lateral lines have a silvery sheen, and the color turns to a greenish-black hue just below the line. In addition, they have a chin barbel, which they use as a tool to find food.

Pollock Fish Behavior

Pollock fish are social creatures, and adults live in groups called schools. Then, as the juveniles grow, they move deeper into the ocean and congregate in masses.

In addition, these fish are believed to partake in some amount of migratory behavior during their breeding season. However, they mostly remain in the same area, never traveling too far from their habitat.

Pollock Fish Habitat

Both species of Pollock occur in similar habitats. The juveniles inhabit shallow, rocky habitats where there are lots of places to hide from predators, while adults form large schools and live in oceanic waters.

In pelagic waters, these fish can swim through various levels. Some even range as far as 1000 feet below the surface.

Pollock Fish Diet

Pollock fish are carnivores and feed off an array of other marine animals. However, their diet changes with age. For example, The juveniles prey on plankton, krill, and other small invertebrates, but as they grow, their diet changes to:

Pollock Fish Predators and Threats

Pollock fish need to be wary of the following predators:

Unfortunately, Alaskan Pollocks are Near Threatened because of their use in the commercial trade. However, the populations in the Northeastern Atlantic are rarely caught.

On the other hand, the Pollack is listed as Least Concern on IUCN’s Redlist because there is no targeted fishery for this species other than recreational fishing. However, they are sometimes caught as bycatches, but this does not affect their population numbers or conservation status.

Pollock Fish Reproduction, Babies, and Lifespan

The Atlantic Pollock reaches sexual maturity between 4 and 7 years old and spawns in the cool waters of Canada from September to April. However, the majority of spawning takes place from December to February. They tend to spawn over rocky bottoms or stones, and after the eggs are fertilized, they rise up in the water column.

Once hatched, the young live in inshore sub-tidal and intertidal zones for around 12 months. Once they are two years old, they begin to migrate into deeper waters. Because of their relatively short lifespan, Alaskan pollocks start reproducing at the ages of three or four.


The Alaska Pollock does not live long in the wild; its average lifespan is 12 years. However, the Atlantic Pollock has a longer lifespan of around 25 years.

Pollock Fish Population

Unfortunately, there is no conclusive information on the population size of either of these two species.

Eating Pollock Fish 

Pollock is a nutritious fish, generally readily available for human consumption, and more sustainable and affordable than other whitefish species like hake or haddock. They are mainly fished from the Atlantic Ocean and known by many names, including:

  • Coalfish
  • Alaskan Pollock
  • Boston Bluefish
  • Saith
  • Harbor Pollock

Nutritional Information

This fish is similar to tuna or salmon because it is a good source of protein and low in saturated fat. Pollocks are also low in calories and a fantastic source of:

  • Vitamin B12
  • Phosphorus
  • Selenium
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Vitamin A

Pollock Health Benefits

Pollocks have multiple health benefits because of their nutrient-dense nature; they include:

Good Nutrients for Heart Health

Pollocks contain minerals that have a positive impact on blood pressure and circulation, which reduces the risks of heart disease. Not only are they good for the heart, but they also taste great and can be used in various recipes, so the possibilities are endless.

Pollocks have anti-inflammatory Effects

Pollocks contain unsaturated fats high in omega-3 fatty acids, which act as an anti-inflammatory and improve the overall health of the skin and stomach.

Helps with Weight Loss

Pollocks are very low in calories when compared to other sources of protein. For example, this fish has only 92 calories in 3.5 ounces.

Increases Fertility

This fish species is excellent for reproductive health. They are known for increasing fertility because of their positive effects metabolic processes and hormone production in the body.

Pregnancy Nutrition

Eating while pregnant can be tricky; while fish is really good for pregnant women, they do contain mercury which is dangerous if the fish is not cooked properly. However, they contain low amounts of mercury, so it is safe as long as it’s not raw.

In addition, they are a great source of zinc and iron, which is incredibly beneficial to a baby’s development. Pollocks are also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which help with babies’ brain development.

Hair Health

Pollocks have a considerable amount of Vitamin B, which helps regulate your metabolism and strengthens your hair.

In addition, it aids in:

  • Eliminating dandruff
  • Hair loss
  • Split ends

Brain Health

Phosphorus is one of the elements that control neurological responses, and having a deficiency of the element can result in disrupted cognitive functions. When this happens, it’s usually due to a lack of Vitamin B. Pollocks contain a substantial amount of Vitamin D, which helps reduce the risk of dementia, insomnia, and depression. In addition, Pollocks contain omega-3 fatty acids that promote overall brain and mental health.

Reduced Risk of Cancer

Pollocks are so rich in nutrients they can be classified as a cancer-fighting food. For example, they contain selenium, which plays a part in the repair of damaged cells caused by cancer, specifically prostate cancer.

In addition, they contain Vitamin B2, which acts as an antioxidant that plays an essential role in reducing the free radical damage of cells in the development of cancer. Vitamin B2 also assists in maintaining the digestive tract lining, which plays a massive role in the immune system.

The development of colorectal cancer can be linked to the body’s inability to absorb the nurtrients in food once consumed. However, Vitamin B2 helps the body absorb all the essential nutrients it needs, reducing the risk of colorectal cancer in women.

Fish Species Similar to the Pollock

There are several fish species that are similar to the Pollock, either in size, appearance, or behavior; they include:


Cod is a popular member of the Gadidae family and are saltwater fish that favor deep water and cold water. They are the most well-known fish in this family, and their meat is a milky white color. Cod are generally sold as fillets and have a delicious buttery taste.

They are spotted fish and come in a array of colors, including:

  • Green
  • Gray
  • Black
  • Brown
  • Red

They have two anal fins, three dorsal fins, and a chin barbell. Cod can weigh up to 25 pounds and feed on other fish and small invertebrates.

This fish is valued for the production of oil from its liver. In fact, cod liver oil is extremely healthy and high in omega 3.


Hake is another species that belong to the cod family. In total, thee are 12 species of hake scattered over the Atlantic Ocean, along the coast of New Zealand, and in eastern regions of the Pacific Ocean.

They inhabit depths of 650 to 3,300 feet from the surface. Unfortunately, uncontrolled fishing due to the high demand of the food industry and predators is the reason for the sharp decline in population numbers. However, despite this drastic decrease in population size, hake is not listed as an endangered species.

Five Differences Between Cod and Pollock

There are several differences between these two fish species; here are the top 5:

1.      Characteristics

While both species are cold water pelagic fish, they do have some significant differences, like the Pollock is a softer fish and more likely to fall apart when overcooked. Both fish are essential ingredients in foods like fish fingers or crumbed fish, but Pollocks are milder, and the only one made into imitation crab.

2.      Health Benefits

Cod and Pollock have fantastic health benefits. Although they both have a wide variety of vitamins and minerals that enhance people’s overall health, the Cod has one thing that Pollocks don’t, which is their liver oil harvested from their liver, and contains high volumes of omega 3 oil.

3.      Appearance

At first glance, Cod and Pollock look very similar; however, there are several ways to tell them apart. Firstly, their coloring is different; Pollock has black and yellow spots covering their bodies, while Cod comes in an array of colors with dark spots or patterns on their sides. In addition, Cod have paler bellies.

4.      Cuisine

Both species are white fish and tend to hold their shape when cooked; Cod is firmer, while Pollock disintegrates if overcooked. Something they have in common is the recipes they are used in, which include:

  • Chowder
  • Soups
  • Crumbed and fried fish dishes
  • Baked fish dishes
  • Smoked Cod or Pollock
  • Fish fingers

5.      Conservation

Both these fish are used commercially in cuisine; however, Cod has more risk of being over fished because they are better known. Because of this, Pollock has become an economic resource and a popular choice for white fish.

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About the Author

Chanel Coetzee is a writer at A-Z Animals, primarily focusing on big cats, dogs, and travel. Chanel has been writing and researching about animals for over 10 years. She has also worked closely with big cats like lions, cheetahs, leopards, and tigers at a rescue and rehabilitation center in South Africa since 2009. As a resident of Cape Town, South Africa, Chanel enjoys beach walks with her Stafford bull terrier and traveling off the beaten path.

Pollock Fish FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Is pollock a good eating fish?

Pollock is a nutritious fish, generally readily available for human consumption, and more sustainable and affordable than other whitefish species like hake or haddock.

Is pollock a cheap fish?

Pollock has become an economic resource and a popular choice for white fish.

What does a pollock fish taste like?

Pollock is a white fish with a mild a delicate flavor.

What's the difference between cod and pollock fish?

Both species are white fish and tend to hold their shape when cooked; Cod is firmer, while Pollock disintegrates if overcooked.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.

  1. Kidadl, Available here: https://kidadl.com/facts/animals/pollock-facts
  2. Animals.Net, Available here: https://animals.net/pollock/
  3. Global Sea Foods, Available here: https://globalseafoods.com/blogs/news/pollock-facts-and-health-benefits
  4. Wikipedia, Available here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pollock
  5. WebMD, Available here: https://www.webmd.com/diet/the-health-benefits-of-pollock#:~:text=about%20this%20fish.-,Pollock%20Fish%20Nutritional%20Information,B12%2C%20phosphorus%2C%20and%20selenium.

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