Alaska Species Explorer

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Walleye Pollock

Common Name: Walleye Pollock
Scientific Name: Theragra chalcogramma
Size: up to 91cm (36in)
Distribution:

Chuckchi Sea through Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands to central California, and to Okhotsk and Japan seas primarily in waters over the continental shelf.

Habitat: Subtidal to 3,200ft, most commonly 150-900ft
Life History:

Broadcast spawning occurs early spring; their eggs are pelagic and drift slowly upward, hatching in 2-3 weeks; larval pollock feed on plankton for around 6 months before settling toward bottom. They form single age cohort schools in the wild. Pollock become reproductive at age 2 and may live up to 20+ years.

Diet in the Wild: Shrimp, krill and other fishes (including younger pollock)
Natural Predators: Marine mammals (notably the endangered Steller Sea Lion), birds and other fishes
Population Status:

National Marine Fisheries Service has determined that pollock are not overfished.  However, stock abundance is now at a lower level than twenty years ago and management of the fishery has required establishing reduced harvest targets in response. Central Bering Sea pollock populations saw a dramatic decline in the early 1990s and despite a 1994 international convention prohibiting commercial fishing in those waters, numbers have not recovered.

Additional Information:

Alaska’s pollock fishery is one of the largest and most valuable in the world ($500 million, est.)

Fun Facts:
  • These fish make diurnal (daily) vertical migrations to forage.
  • Pollock are processed into surimi, a product which is used to make imitation crab, lobster and other seafood products.
  • Pollock fillets become the “fish sticks” and “fish fillets” familiar to many consumers.

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