'Filet-O-Fish season'?

Lent, a period of 40 days (not counting Sundays), is a religious observance in the Christian liturgical calendar that begins on Wednesday March 6th of this year. The word lent comes from the Proto-Germanic word for spring (langatīnaz) which itself is a combination of the words langaz (long) +‎ tīnaz (day). So what does this have to do with Pollock you ask? In 1962, Lou Groen, a McDonald's franchise owner in Cincinnati, Ohio noticed he was losing buisness on Fridays as a result of many Catholics abstaining from eating meat on Fridays during this period. In response, the Filet-O-Fish was born.

Now McDonalds slings 25% of their wild-caught Alaska Pollock fish sandwiches during Lent! On social media people have referred to the season as ‘Filet-O-Fish season’ in response to many fast food restaurants offering fish sandwiches as an alternative. Here is a slightly dated article from QSR magazine which outlines various fast food restaurants and their lent menu additions: https://www.qsrmagazine.com/news/fast-food-preps-seafood-boom-during-lent

Wild-caught Alaska Pollock is available year round. There are a plethora of recipes online to construct your own Filet-O-Fish sandwich. If you want, every season could be Filet-O-Fish season!



Pollock behavior changing as climate warms?

A recent article by Nat Herz at KTOO public media reports on a trend both pollock skippers and scientists are observing. The distribution of Alaska pollock during the summer season is changing drastically which has forced commercial fishers to explore areas they have not fished previously. Last summer temperatures in the Bering Sea were nearly 9 degrees higher than normal. The article has a great overview of the Pollock fishery and how the warming climate may be responsible for the changes being observed.


Sexyback for Alaska Pollock?

A recent article on Undercurrent News does a fantastic job describing the current market outlook for Alaska Pollock. At the Global Seafood Market Conference in 2017 Michael Holley, the commodity procurement manager for seafoods with US Foods, appealed to the industry to make pollock sexy. In an epic clapback, Trident’s Torunn Halhjem at the 2019 GSMC declared, “sexy is definitely back for wild Alaska pollock”. The undercurrent article goes in depth into the drivers that are making the current markets and demand so strong.

Justin Timberlake.jpg

New research published by Smith et al. describes functional properties of pollock roe

Project 16-03 proposed to develop alternative pollock roe product forms, but also lead to new insights into the physicochemical properties of Alaska walleye pollock. This research has been recently published in the Journal of Food Science and Technology. To find out more follow the link in the citation!

Anvari, M., B. Smith, C. Sannito, & Q.S.W. Fong. 2018. Characterization of rheological and physicochemical properties of Alaska walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) roe. Journal of Food Science and Technology 55(9): 3616–3624. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13197-018-3287-7

Trade war between US and China cause increase Russian pollock price

In a news article release by Undercurrent News, Tom Seaman describes the effect that a 25% tariff on Alaska pollock imported to China will mean on Russian pollock prices. Typically at the end of the year, with decreasing supply, headed and gutted pollock prices rise, but the price increase they are observing appears to be caused by chinese buyers reluctant to purchase from US sources amid the possibility of a ~25% tariff.

Trident Seafoods is developing the wild Alaska pollock market in Japan with new processing plant

A news article by Tom Seaman of undercurrentnews.com released today reports on Trident Seafoods' plan to open a value-added processing plant in Tome Japan. The main goal of the plan is to differentiate single-frozen Alaska fillets from double-frozen Russian fillets processed largely in China. The Undercurrent article features excepts from an interview with Koichi Suzuki, who runs Trident’s Japanese business, and Honomi Sugihira, one of the new plant’s project members and manages overseas public relations. 


MSC recertification for Russia Sea of Okhotsk Pollock fishery

The Russian Sea of Okhostsk Pollock fishery is a midwater trawl fishery composed of 30 fishing companies which land ~ 840,000 metric tonnes pollock annually. It has been certified by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) since September 2013. MSC recertification occurs every five years. 

What is the MSC you ask? The MSC is an international non-profit organization whose mission is 'to use our ecolabel and fishery certification program to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by recognising and rewarding sustainable fishing practices, influencing the choices people make when buying seafood and working with our partners to transform the seafood market to a sustainable basis.'

In addition to the perceived environmental benefits of certification, there have been some studies demonstrating the economic benefit of MSC certification. These benefit, however, may differ substantially by species. Currently both the Bering Sea & Aleutian Islands and the Gulf of Alaska Pollock fisheries are MSC certified while the Russia Bering Sea and Navarinsky pollock fisheries were withdrawn. 

Over the next five years there were three recommendations by the MSC panel: '(1) relating to incidental seabird mortality arising from bird interactions with fishery operations at sea, (2) relating to the perceived need for an occasional but regular review of the non-stock assessment part of the management system for the stock, to be independent and provided in English, and (3) to further enhance the independent observation database especially but not only relating to observation of endangered, threatened or protected species and other non-target species'.

The entire recertification assessment can be found on the MSC's website

Pollock ranging further north?

The NOAA trawl survey of the southern Bering Sea has completed and preliminary results suggest lower abundances of pollock and cod than anticipated. The Cordova times recently released an article by Margaret Bauman with an interview of Lyle Britt, a research fisheries biologist with NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle. Data collected suggest a warming trend and showed pollock collected much further north than expected. Researchers believe that this may be due to the lack of a cold pool that normally functions as a barrier to dispersal. Formal results have yet to be released, but if you are interested in Alaska Research Surveys a wealth of information can be found on NOAA's website

Fork & Fin - Trident's food truck showcasing Alaska pollock

In 2017 Trident seafoods launched an engaging experiment to educate people about Alaska pollock. The food truck showcases pollock in a diverse array of dishes. You can find the tried-and-true 'Alaskan Beer Battered fish tacos' to the innovative 'Peanut Butter and Jelly Ultimate Fish Sticks'. 

Alaskan Pollock is the most abundant certified-sustainable seafood species in the world. Plus, it leaves a much lower carbon footprint on our planet than land based proteins, such as cattle and poultry. It is our mission to show the world how delicious this often over-looked, under-appreciated cousin to cod truly is – one serving at a time. 
— Fork & Fin

The truck operates all over Seattle and relocates daily! If you want to try delicious Alaska pollock you can locate the truck at the Fork & Fin website. Also you can take a look at their beautiful food on Instagram.