Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Gadidae
Genus: Pollachius
Nilsson, 1832

Pollachius pollachius
Pollachius virens

Pollock (or pollack, pronounced the same, play /ˈpɒlək/, and listed first in most UK and US dictionaries) 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. pollachius include the Atlantic pollock, European pollock, lieu jaune, and lythe; while P. virens is sometimes known as Boston blues (distinct from bluefish), coalfish (or coley), Silver Bills or saithe.

Both species can grow to 3 ft 6 in (1.07 m) and can weigh up to 46 lb (21 kg). The fish has a strongly-defined silvery lateral line running down the sides. Above the lateral line the color is a greenish black. The belly is white. It can be found in water up to 100 fathoms (180 m) deep over rocks, and anywhere in the water column. Pollock are a "whitefish".


Other fish called pollock

There are also members of the Theragra genus that are commonly referred to as pollock. This includes the Alaska pollock or walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) and the rarer Norwegian pollock (Theragra finnmarchica). While related (they are also members of the family Gadidae) to the above pollock species, they are not members of the Pollachius genus. Alaska pollock generally spawn in late winter and early spring on Southeast Bering Sea. The Alaska pollock is a significant part of the commercial fishery in the Gulf of Alaska.[1]


Atlantic pollock is largely considered to be a whitefish, although it is a fairly strongly flavored one. Although traditionally a popular source of food in some countries like Norway, in the United Kingdom it has previously been largely consumed as a cheaper and versatile alternative to cod and haddock in the West Country, elsewhere being known mostly for its traditional use as "Pollack for puss / coley for the cat." However, in recent years pollock has become more popular due to over-fishing of cod and haddock. It can now be found in most supermarkets as fresh fillets or prepared freezer items. For example, when minced, it is the primary component of fish fingers and Popcorn Fish.

It is often the common ingredient used to create imitation crab meat.

Because of its slightly gray color pollock is often prepared, as in Norway, as fried fish balls or if juvenile sized, breaded with oatmeal and fried, as in Shetland. Year old fish are traditionally split, salted and dried over a peat hearth in Orkney where their texture becomes wooden and somewhat phosphorescent. The fish can also be salted and smoked and achieve a salmon-like orange color (although it is not closely related to the salmon), as is the case in Germany where the fish is commonly sold as Seelachs or sea salmon. In Korea, pollock may be repeatedly frozen and melted to create Hwangtae, half-dried to create Ko-da-ri, or fully dried and eaten as Book-o.

In 2009, U.K. supermarket Sainsbury's renamed pollock 'Colin' in bid to boost eco-friendly sales of the fish as an alternative to cod.[2] The supermarket also suggested some shoppers may be too embarrassed to ask for the species under its proper title, due to its reputation as an inferior fish, and its similarity to a popular English swear word (bollocks). Sainsbury's, which said the new name was derived from the French for cooked pollock (colin), launched the product under the banner "Colin and chips can save British cod."


A fish with its gills infested with two cod worms

Cod and related species are plagued by parasites. For example the cod worm, Lernaeocera branchialis, starts life as a copepod, a small free-swimming crustacean larva. The first host used by cod worm is a flatfish or lumpsucker, which they capture with grasping hooks at the front of their body. They penetrate the lumpsucker with a thin filament which they use to suck its blood. The nourished cod worms then mate on the lumpsucker.[3][4]

The female worm, with her now fertilized eggs, then finds a cod, or a cod-like fish such as a haddock or whiting. There the worm clings to the gills while it metamorphoses into a plump, sinusoidal, wormlike body, with a coiled mass of egg strings at the rear. The front part of the worms body penetrates the body of the cod until it enters the rear bulb of the host's heart. There, firmly rooted in the cod's circulatory system, the front part of the parasite develops like the branches of a tree, reaching into the main artery. In this way, the worm extracts nutrients from the cod's blood, remaining safely tucked beneath the cod's gill cover until it releases a new generation of offspring into the water.[3][4]


  1. ^ C.Michael Hogan. 2011. Gulf of Alaska. Topic ed. P.Saundry. Ed.-in-chief C.J.Cleveland. Encyclopedia of Earth. National council for Science and the Environment.
  2. ^ A colin and chips? Sainsbury's gives unfashionable pollack a makeover | Business | The Guardian
  3. ^ a b Matthews B (1998) An Introduction to Parasitology Page 73–74. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521576918.
  4. ^ a b Extraordinary Animals: An Encyclopedia of Curious and Unusual Animals. Greenwood Press. 2007. 

External links

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  • pollock — or pollack [päl′ək] n. pl. pollock or pollocks any of various marine, gadoid food fishes (genera Pollachius and Theragra) having tiny scales and a projecting lower jaw …   English World dictionary

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