Coley, Saithe

Pollachius virens

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Gill or fixed net
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Northeast Arctic
Stock detail

I and II


Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)

Picture of Coley, Saithe

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

The Norwegian fishery for saithe carried out in the Norwegian Sea, ICES Sub-areas I and II, within the Norwegian Exclusive Economic Zone is assessed as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council. Increase the sustainability of the fish you eat from this area by choosing MSC Certified fish. Avoid eating immature saithe below about 60 cms and during its breeding time, January to March.


Coley or saithe belongs to the same family as cod and haddock. Coley usually enters coastal waters in spring and returns to deeper water in winter. They spawn from January to March at about 200m depth along the northern shelf edge and the western edge of the Norwegian deeps. Saithe can grow up to 130cm. It is a long-lived species and can reach ages of more than 25 years. They become sexually mature when 5-10 years old and 60-70cm long.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

Stock Area

Northeast Arctic

Stock information

The spawning-stock biomass (SSB) has been above Bpa since 1996, but declined considerably from 2007 to 2011, then increased again and is presently (2018) estimated to be well above Bpa. The fishing pressure (F) has been below Fpa since 1997, with the exception of 2010 and 2011. Recruitment (R) has been close to the long-term geometric mean level after 2005.
ICES assesses that fishing pressure on the stock is below Fpa, Flim, and FMP, and the spawning stock size is above Bpa, Blim, and SSBMGT.
ICES advises that when the Norwegian management plan is applied, catches in 2019 should be no more than 149 550 tonnes. Bycatches of coastal cod (Gadus morhua) and golden redfish (Sebastes norvegicus) in fisheries targeting saithe in subareas 1 and 2 should be kept as low as possible.


Criterion score: 0 info

There is a management plan for this fishery. A harvest control rule consistent with the precautionary approach to fisheries management was implemented in 2007. In 2013 the target level for fishing mortality was reduced. The Norwegian fishery for saithe, carried out in the Norwegian Sea, ICES Sub-areas I and II, within the Norwegian Exclusive Economic Zone, is assessed as an environmentally responsible fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council. The fishery is almost entirely (93%) Norwegian and managed by the Norwegian authorities.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Since the early 1960s, purse seiners and trawlers have dominated the fishery, with a traditional gillnet fishery for spawning saithe as the third major component. The gillnet fishery is the most intense during winter, purse seine in the summer months, while the trawl fishery takes place more evenly all year around. Norway accounts for more than 90% of the landings. The purse seine fishery is conducted in coastal areas and fjords. Slipping (a form of discarding) occurs in the purse seine fishery when saithe are caught below the legal minimum landing size. As a result, areas were closed and the MLS reduced from 42 to 40cms.
Fisheries targeting Northeast Arctic saithe take golden redfish (Sebastes norvegicus) as bycatch which is a considerable part of the total catch. This bycatch is still far above any sustainable catch level and measures to minimise bycatch levels are essential. Bycatch of coastal cod is also a problem and should be kept as low as possible in order to obtain the reductions in fishing mortality required by the rebuilding plan for the species.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler
Bass, seabass (Farmed)
Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Cod, Pacific Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2018