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Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Gadidae
Genus: Pollachius
Nilsson, 1832
Type species
Pollachius pollachius
Nilsson, 1832 (Linnaeus, 1758)

Asellus Minding, 1832

Pollock or pollack[1] (pronounced /ˈpɒlək/) is the common name used for either of the two species of North Atlantic marine fish in the genus Pollachius. Pollachius pollachius is referred to as "pollock" in North America, Ireland and the United Kingdom, while Pollachius virens is usually known as saithe or coley in Great Britain and Ireland (derived from the older name coalfish).[2] Other names for P. pollachius include the Atlantic pollock, European pollock, lieu jaune, and lythe or lithe;[3] while P. virens is also known as Boston blue (distinct from bluefish), silver bill, or saithe.


The recognized species in this genus are:[4]


Both species can grow to 130 centimetres (4 feet 3 inches).[5] P. virens can weigh up to 32 kilograms (71 pounds)[6] and P. pollachius can weigh up to 18 kilograms (40 pounds).[5] P. virens has a strongly defined, silvery lateral line running down the sides. Above the lateral line, the colour is a greenish black. The belly is white, while P. pollachius has a distinctly crooked lateral line, grayish to golden belly, and a dark brown back. P. pollachius also has a strong underbite. It can be found in water up to 180 metres (600 feet; 100 fathoms) deep over rocks and anywhere in the water column. Pollock is a whitefish.

As food[edit]

Global commercial capture of pollock in million tonnes 1950–2010[7]
The total capture of pollock in 2010 as reported by the FAO was 3.2 million tonnes (3.5 million short tons).[7]

Atlantic pollock is largely considered to be a whitefish. Traditionally a popular source of food in some countries, such as Norway, in the United Kingdom it has previously been largely consumed as a cheaper and versatile alternative to cod and haddock. However, in recent years,[when?] pollock has become more popular due to overfishing of cod and haddock. It can now be found in most supermarkets as fresh fillets or prepared freezer items. For example, it is used minced in fish fingers or as an ingredient in imitation crab meat and is commonly used to make fish and chips.

Because of its slightly grey colour, pollock[which?] 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.[clarification needed] Coalfish 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.[citation needed]

In 2009, UK supermarket Sainsbury's briefly renamed Atlantic pollock "colin" in a bid to boost ecofriendly sales of the fish as an alternative to cod.[8] 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."

Pollock is regarded as a "low-mercury fish" – a woman weighing 60 kg (130 lb) can safely eat up to 510 g (18 oz) per week, and a child weighing 20 kg (44 lb) can safely eat up to 170 g (6 oz).[9]

Other fish called pollock[edit]

One member of the genus Gadus is also commonly referred to as pollock: the Alaska pollock or walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus), including the form known as the Norway pollock. They are also members of the family Gadidae but not members of the genus Pollachius.


  1. ^ Kirkpatrick, E. M., ed. (1983). Chambers 20th Century Dictionary (New ed.). Edinburgh: Chambers. p. 904. ISBN 0550102345.
  2. ^ "Pollock and Coalfish Identification Guide". Britishseafishing. 30 April 2013.
  3. ^ Maxwell, William Hamilton (1853). Wild Sports and Adventures in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland. London: Geo. Routledge & Co. pp. 137, 138. Retrieved 8 April 2024. [...] Nature [...] pours myriads of coal-fish and pollocks into every creek or bay [...]. [...] The latter fish, under the Linnean appellation of Gadus Pollachus, is called generally, 'the Lithe.' [...] To the ferocity of a bull-dog the lithe unites the greyhound's agility. [...] Lithe-fishing demands coarse tackle [...].
  4. ^ Froese, Rainer and Pauly, Daniel, eds. (2012). Species of Pollachius in FishBase. April 2012 version.
  5. ^ a b "Pollachius pollachius summary page". FishBase. 14 May 2023.
  6. ^ "Pollachius virens summary page". FishBase. 14 May 2023.
  7. ^ a b Based on data sourced from the relevant FAO Species Fact Sheets
  8. ^ A colin and chips? Sainsbury's gives unfashionable pollack a makeover | Business | The Guardian
  9. ^ "Which Fish Are Safe for Pregnant Women?". Consumer Reports. 2017-01-27. Retrieved 2019-03-01.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]