Alaska pollock
Alaska pollock or walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) is a North Pacific species of the cod
Cod is the common name for genus Gadus, belonging to the family Gadidae, and is also used in the common name for various other fishes. Cod is a popular food with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense, flaky white flesh. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, an important source of...

 family Gadidae
Gadidae is a family of marine fish, included in the order Gadiformes. It includes the cod, haddock, whiting, and pollock.Most species of gadid are found in temperate waters of the northern hemisphere, although there are some exceptions. They are generally medium sized fish, and are distinguished...

. While related to the common Atlantic
Atlantic Ocean
The Atlantic Ocean is the second-largest of the world's oceanic divisions. With a total area of about , it covers approximately 20% of the Earth's surface and about 26% of its water surface area...

Pollock is the common name used for either of the two species of marine fish in the Pollachius genus. Both P. pollachius and P. virens are commonly referred to as pollock. Other names for P...

 species of the same family, the Alaska pollock is not a member of the same Pollachius genus.

The Norwegian pollock (Theragra finnmarchica), a rare fish of Norwegian waters, may actually be the same species as the Alaska pollock.


The Alaska pollock has been said to be "the largest remaining source of palatable fish in the world." More than 3 million tons of Alaska pollock are caught each year in the North Pacific from Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

 to northern Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

. Alaska pollock catches from U.S. fisheries have been quite consistent at about 1.5 million tons a year, almost all of it from the Bering Sea
Bering Sea
The Bering Sea is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It comprises a deep water basin, which then rises through a narrow slope into the shallower water above the continental shelves....

. Information on the current stock status for Alaska groundfish is updated annually, whereas the specific 2007 pollock assessment is also available. The Alaska pollock landings are the largest of any single fish species in the U.S. However, in each of the last three years, the pollock population has declined; in 2008, it fell 38 percent and scientists now believe that the 2008 pollock catch will be the lowest in 30 years. Although the fishery has been hailed as an example of good management, and the prestigious Marine Stewardship Council
Marine Stewardship Council
The Marine Stewardship Council is an independent non-profit organization with an ecolabel and fishery certification programme. Fisheries that are assessed and meet the standard can use the MSC blue ecolabel. The MSC mission is to 'reward sustainable fishing practices’...

 declared it "sustainable", Greenpeace
Greenpeace is a non-governmental environmental organization with offices in over forty countries and with an international coordinating body in Amsterdam, The Netherlands...

 has criticized its management for many years and placed pollock on its international "red list" of endangered fish. In response to the new data, Greenpeace called for 2009 catch levels to be reduced to half those of 2008 to avoid further long-term declines.

This decline has led some scientists to worry that Alaska pollock could be about to repeat the kind of collapse experienced by Atlantic cod
Atlantic cod
The Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua, is a well-known demersal food fish belonging to the family Gadidae. It is also commercially known as cod, codling or haberdine....

, which could have negative consequences for the world food supply and the entire Bering Sea ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

. Halibut
Halibut is a flatfish, genus Hippoglossus, from the family of the right-eye flounders . Other flatfish are also called halibut. The name is derived from haly and butt , for its popularity on Catholic holy days...

, salmon
Salmon is the common name for several species of fish in the family Salmonidae. Several other fish in the same family are called trout; the difference is often said to be that salmon migrate and trout are resident, but this distinction does not strictly hold true...

, endangered Steller sea lions, fur seal
Fur seal
Fur seals are any of nine species of pinnipeds in the Otariidae family. One species, the northern fur seal inhabits the North Pacific, while seven species in the Arctocephalus genus are found primarily in the Southern hemisphere...

s, and humpback whale
Humpback Whale
The humpback whale is a species of baleen whale. One of the larger rorqual species, adults range in length from and weigh approximately . The humpback has a distinctive body shape, with unusually long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. It is an acrobatic animal, often breaching and slapping the...

s all eat pollock and rely on healthy populations to sustain themselves.

It has been found that catches of Alaska pollock go up three years after stormy summers. The storms stir up nutrients, and this results in phytoplankton
Phytoplankton are the autotrophic component of the plankton community. The name comes from the Greek words φυτόν , meaning "plant", and πλαγκτός , meaning "wanderer" or "drifter". Most phytoplankton are too small to be individually seen with the unaided eye...

 being plentiful for longer, which in turn allows more pollock hatchlings to survive.

Use as food

Compared with pollock
Pollock is the common name used for either of the two species of marine fish in the Pollachius genus. Both P. pollachius and P. virens are commonly referred to as pollock. Other names for P...

, Alaska pollock has a milder taste, whiter color and lower oil content.

High quality, single frozen whole Alaska pollock fillets may be layered into a block mold and deep frozen to produce fish blocks that are used throughout Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 and North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 as the raw material for high quality breaded and battered fish products. Lower quality, double-frozen fillets or minced trim pieces may also be frozen in block forms and used as raw material for lower quality, low-cost breaded and battered fish sticks
Fish finger
Fish fingers, known as fish sticks in North America, are a processed food made using a whitefish such as cod, haddock or pollock which have been battered or breaded....

, portions, etc.

Single frozen Alaska pollock is considered to be the premier raw material for surimi
Surimi is a Japanese loan word referring to a fish-based food product that has been pulverized to a thick paste and has the property of a dense and rubbery food item when cooked...

; the most common use of surimi in the United States is "imitation crabmeat" (also known as crab stick
Crab stick
Crab sticks are a form of kamaboko, a processed seafood made of finely pulverized white fish flesh , shaped and cured to resemble crab leg meat....

). It is the main ingredient in the surimi-based sandwich product called "Seafood Sensation" sold by the Subway
Subway (restaurant)
Subway is an American restaurant franchise that primarily sells submarine sandwiches and salads. It is owned and operated by Doctor's Associates, Inc. . Subway is one of the fastest growing franchises in the world with 35,519 restaurants in 98 countries and territories as of October 25th, 2011...

 fast-food chain.

Alaska pollock is commonly used in the fast food
Fast food
Fast food is the term given to food that can be prepared and served very quickly. While any meal with low preparation time can be considered to be fast food, typically the term refers to food sold in a restaurant or store with preheated or precooked ingredients, and served to the customer in a...

 industry, for example the Filet-O-Fish
The Filet-O-Fish is a fish sandwich sold by the international fast food chain store McDonald's.-Product description:...

 sandwich at McDonald's
McDonald's Corporation is the world's largest chain of hamburger fast food restaurants, serving around 64 million customers daily in 119 countries. Headquartered in the United States, the company began in 1940 as a barbecue restaurant operated by the eponymous Richard and Maurice McDonald; in 1948...

. It is also used by Dairy Queen
Dairy Queen
Dairy Queen, often abbreviated DQ, is a chain of soft serve and fast food restaurants owned by International Dairy Queen, Inc, who also owns Orange Julius and Karmelkorn. The name "Dairy Queen" is taken from the name of their soft serve product, which the company refers to as "Dairy Queen" or...

, Arby's
Arby's is a fast food restaurant chain in the United States and Canada. Roark Capital Group owns 81.5% of the company, with Wendy's Company owning the other 18.5%. It is primarily known for selling roast beef sandwiches and curly fries. The Arby's menu also includes chicken sandwiches, appetizers,...

, Long John Silvers, Carl's Jr.
Carl's Jr.
Carl's Jr. is an American fast-food restaurant chain located mostly in the Western and Southwestern United States. The first store has opened in Canada in Kelowna, BC. They are in the process of expanding to Mexico, Malaysia, Denmark, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Russia, Vietnam,...

, Birds Eye
Birds Eye
__FORCETOC__Birds Eye is an international brand of frozen foods owned by Pinnacle Foods in North America and by private equity group Permira in Europe....

 and Burger King
Burger King
Burger King, often abbreviated as BK, is a global chain of hamburger fast food restaurants headquartered in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States. The company began in 1953 as Insta-Burger King, a Jacksonville, Florida-based restaurant chain...

. Salted or smoked pollock roe
Roe or hard roe is the fully ripe internal egg masses in the ovaries, or the released external egg masses of fish and certain marine animals, such as shrimp, scallop and sea urchins...

 is widely used in Japanese
Japanese cuisine
Japanese cuisine has developed over the centuries as a result of many political and social changes throughout Japan. The cuisine eventually changed with the advent of the Medieval age which ushered in a shedding of elitism with the age of shogun rule...

 and Russian
Russian cuisine
Russian cuisine is diverse, as Russia is the largest country in the world. Russian cuisine derives its varied character from the vast and multi-cultural expanse of Russia. Its foundations were laid by the peasant food of the rural population in an often harsh climate, with a combination of...

cuisines as well.
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