Pollack or Lythe

Pollachius pollachius

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Handline
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 info

Handlining is one of the most sustainable and species selective fishing methods available. Line-caught pollack taken by handliners fishing in Cornish and Devon waters is tagged, as part of a scheme to provide line-to-plate traceability and assure consumers of its sustainability. Small fish are rarely caught, but if caught they are returned alive immediately. Line fishing also has no unwanted by-catch. Although the minimum landing size for pollack in EU waters is 30cm, it does not typically 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)