The Alaska Pollock or walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma), is found along the Northern Pacific coast of the United States and Canada, however, its largest populations exist in the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska. The Alaska Pollock inhabits the middle lower levels of the ocean and is caught primarily with mid-water trawling. This can pose serious bycatch problems, such as the 130,000 Chinook salmon that were accidentally caught in 2007 as a result of mid-water Pollock trawling.
Alaska Pollock is America’s largest fishery, producing more than 1 million tons annually. In 2008, Greenpeace USA placed the Alaska Pollock on its seafood red list. The decline in Alaskan Pollock has caused the decline in the already endangered Stellar Sea lions which feed on Alaska Pollock, as well as the disappearance of fur seals, a species which also relies on an abundance of Alaskan Pollock to survive. In addition, as the fish are depleted, jobs are depleted, a rather significant economical problem considering the fishery on a world scale is worth close to $2 billion.
Common foods made with Alaska Pollock:
Fish Sticks- Made from amalgamated Alaska Pollock pulp which is then pumped into a mold, breaded, fried, and frozen.
Fish Sandwiches- Once a common ingredient in fast food fish sandwiches, Alaska Pollock is used less and less for this common American sandwich often replaced with alternative white fleshed fish species as Pollock is increasingly under the radar as a threatened species by overfishing. However, this does not mean T. chalcogramma is no longer used, it remains as a common fish species used in fish sandwiches in fast food restaurants as well as many national seafood chains.
Surimi- Surimi is white fish paste used for making many processed Japanese fish items, but most commonly Kanikama, or as it is called in America, imitation crab. If you’ve eaten sushi with this imitation crab, then chances are you’ve eaten Alaskan Pollock, as it is almost always the fish used in this common sushi ingredient.