Pollack or Lythe

Pollachius pollachius

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Gill or fixed net
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Celtic Seas and the English Channel
Stock detail — 6.-7.
Picture of Pollack or Lythe

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

No reference points are defined for the stock in subareas 6. and 7. The available information is insufficient to evaluate exploitation, total catches are unknown, and there are signs that pollack abundance in the Celtic Sea ecoregion is in decline. Recreational catches are unknown but thought to be substantial and it is likely that total catches are exceeding those recommended by scientists. The most sustainable choice for this species is line-caught fish from the southwest. For information on line caught and tagged pollack from these waters, see www.linecaught.org.uk. Avoid eating immature fish (below 50cm) and during its breeding season (January to April).


Distributed throughout the northeast Atlantic, pollack is a warm, temperate species belonging to the cod family. It is mostly found close to the shore with a preference for wrecks and rocky bottom. It usually occurs at 40-100 m depth but is found down to 200 m. Growth is rapid, approaching 10 cms per year. It migrates into deeper water as it grows. Maturity occurs at approximately 3 years. It spawns between January and April. Young of the first year are particularly common close inshore and may therefore be protected from fisheries in the early life stages. Species can reach a length of 120-130 cm. A maximum size of 130 cm, a maximum weight of 18 kg and a maximum age of 15 years are reported.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Stock Area

Celtic Seas and the English Channel

Stock information

The available information is insufficient to evaluate the exploitation and the trends of pollack in the Celtic Seas ecoregion. Commercial landings have been stable since the early 1990s. Further information on stock structure and biological parameters are needed. The fishing mortality is thought to be below possible reference points and the stock size is unknown.
ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, commercial catches should be no more than 4200 tonnes in each of the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.


Criterion score: 0.5 info

There is no management plan for pollack in this area. There is an EU Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for the stock.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Most pollack in the Celtic Sea ecoregion is caught by trawls (48%) and static nets (23%).
Gillnets can be very size selective for the target fish but can be unselective at the species level for both non-target fish and for mammals, birds and turtles. Harbour porpoise are highly prone to bycatch in bottom-set gillnets used to catch demersal species such as cod, turbot, hake, saithe, sole, skate and dogfish and tangle net fisheries used to capture flat fish and crustaceans due largely to their feeding habits on or near the seabed. Porpoises are generally taken as single animals. The number taken ranges from 1 in 20 hauls for skate to 1 in 54 hauls for cod. High levels of Harbour porpoise bycatch have been recorded in the Celtic and North Sea. In areas where population levels of cetaceans are very low, such as the Baltic and the southern North Sea/Eastern Channel, even a very low level of bycatch is extremely serious in conservation terms. EU Regulation 821/2004 requires all community fishing vessels, greater than or equal to 12 metres, using drift, gill and tangle nets to use pingers - acoustic devices to deter marine mammal entanglement in nets. It also requires Member States to introduce observer schemes to monitor cetacean bycatch in certain fisheries, most notably in pelagic trawls, and the phase out of driftnet fisheries in the Baltic Sea. However, despite the pinger requirement coming into force in June 2005 in the North Sea, January 2006 in the Western Channel and January 2007 in the Eastern Channel, the UK fleet (along with the majority of European vessels) is still not applying this provision. The reasons given are that the pingers available present too many practical and health and safety problems. This means that in the UK there are still little mitigation measures in place to reduce what is likely to remain the main conservation and welfare problem affecting cetaceans around our coasts. Other measures that maybe adopted to reduce the number of marine mammal casualities include reducing the length of the net and soak time, i.e. the period of time the net is in the sea. Because of their durability, they are made of nylon; if lost the net can continue to fish, a phenomenon known as ‘ghost fishing’.
Although the minimum landing size for Pollack in EU waters is 30cm, typically it does not mature below 50cm.


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 2018. ICES Advice on fishing opportunities, catch, and effort Celtic Seas, Greater North Sea, and Oceanic Northeast Atlantic ecoregions. Published 30 June 2018. http://ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2018/2018/pol.27.67.pdf (Accessed July 2018)