This manual documents age determination techniques used by staff at the Woods Hole Laboratory to…
About the Species
U.S. wild-caught Atlantic pollock is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population level.
At recommended level.
Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitat that are affected by some kinds of trawl gear.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
- According to the 2019 stock assessment, Atlantic pollock is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- Atlantic pollock are brownish-green on the back and slightly pale on the belly.
- They have a small chin barbel, like the whiskers on a catfish.
- They are a member of the cod family but can be distinguished by their greenish hue and darker flesh.
- Atlantic pollock grow fast at first until they sexually mature between the ages of 3 and 6.
- They grow to more than 3 ½ feet long and 35 pounds and can live a long time, up to 23 years.
- Atlantic pollock spawn from November through February over hard, stony, or rocky ocean bottoms in areas throughout the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank.
- They spawn multiple times per season.
- Pollock eggs rise into the water column after they are released and fertilized.
- Smaller pollock in inshore waters feed on small crustaceans and small fish. Larger pollock mainly prey on fish.
- A variety of fish eat juvenile pollock. Spiny dogfish, monkfish, and other pollock prey on adults.
Where They Live
- Atlantic pollock are found in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and are most common on the western Scotian Shelf and in the Gulf of Maine.
- NOAA Fisheries and the New England Fishery Management Council manage the fishery.
- Pollock, along with other groundfish in New England waters, are managed under the Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, which includes:
- Permitting requirements for commercial vessels.
- Separate management measures for recreational vessels.
- Time/Area Closures to protect spawning fish and habitat.
- Minimum fish sizes to prevent harvest of juvenile fish.
- Annual catch limits, based on best available science.
- An optional sector (catch share) program can be used for cod and other groundfish species. The sector program allows fishermen to form harvesting cooperatives and work together to decide when, where, and how they harvest fish.
- Commercial fishery:
- In 2020, commercial landings of Atlantic pollock totaled approximately 7.8 million pounds and were valued at $6.5 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database.
Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
- Pollock are commonly harvested using trawl nets, gillnets, bottom longlines, and rod and reel.
- Gillnets, longlines, and rod and reel used to harvest pollock have little to no impact on habitat.
- Areas closures and gear restrictions reduce habitat impacts from trawl nets.
- Fishermen follow management measures to designed to reduce interactions with marine mammals, including gear modifications, seasonal closures, and use of marine mammal deterrents.
- Recreational fishery:
- Pollock is growing in popularity with anglers that have traditionally targeted other groundfish like cod and haddock. Anglers target pollock from boats and shore using both lures and bait. Successful anglers find that the fish puts up a spirited fight. Fishing occurs year-round.
- Regulations are limited to a minimum fish size in federal waters.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Subsistence Fishing Regulations
Atlantic pollock is managed under the Northeast Multispecies (Groundfish) Fishery Management Plan (FMP) along with 12 other species of groundfish. Collectively, these 13 species are referred to as the Northeast multispecies complex.