The Alaska pollock fishery is generally well managed. However, there are concerns about trawling impacts, bycatch and overall population status. This results in a "Good Alternative" ranking.
The Alaska pollock fishery is certified as sustainable to the standard of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) .
Imitation Crab, Surimi, Kanikama
Alaska Pollock is typically sold frozen as fish sticks or fillets. It's also available as fish "paste" products such as imitation crab (surimi), scallops and shrimp.
The Alaska pollock fishery is one of the largest single-species fisheries in the world. A member of the cod family, Alaska pollock reach maturity at an early age and produce plentiful young—traits that help them withstand intense fishing.
Alaska Pollock populations are moderately healthy, but their numbers have been declining. Alaska Pollock are now at their lowest levels in over 20 years.
The fishery uses midwater trawling gear that's designed to not impact the seafloor. However, these midwater nets contact the seafloor an estimated 44% of the time—resulting in severe damage to seafloor habitats of the Bering Sea.
Bycatch rates in the Alaska pollock fishery are generally low, but in recent years, the fishery has caught large numbers of Chinook salmon from stocks that are experiencing dramatic declines. It's unclear the extent to which the Alaska pollock fishery is contributing to these declines.
There's also conflicting evidence about the role of the Alaska pollock fishery in the decline of the endangered Steller sea lion and Northern fur seal, both of which rely heavily on Alaska pollock for food. It's critical that these impacts be explored further.
Despite these concerns, some aspects of the Alaska pollock fishery management are progressive and precautionary. Management has taken steps toward an ecosystem-based approach that, relative to other fisheries worldwide, is considered highly effective.
In this complex situation of positive management and negative impacts, Alaska pollock is ranked as a "Good Alternative."