"Contrary to projections, pollock stocks have not recovered,
remaining at near record low levels. While the fishing industry and
others continue to cite the pollock fishery as a model of fisheries
management, the pollock population has declined sharply in recent
years. In spite of concerns raised by Greenpeace and many
scientists, unsustainable fishing rates have been allowed to
continue, as has heavy trawling on spawning aggregations.
"The fate of pollock has dire implications for the ecosystem,
due to the importance of these fish as a food source for everything
from whales and fur seals to endangered Steller sea lions. Pribilof
fur seal populations have been dropping steadily, with females
spending longer and longer at sea looking for fish. When even the
'best managed fishery in the world' is in this kind of trouble, it
is clearly time for policymakers to rethink the way we take care of
our oceans. We need a network of marine reserves not only in the
Bering Sea, but as part of a global network of protected areas to
stop the devastation of our oceans.
"What we are witnessing with pollock is yet another example of a
global overfishing problem that stretches from bluefin tuna in the
North Atlantic and Mediterranean to the hoki off New Zealand.
Clearly, the collapse was not enough to convince governments that
they are fishing out our oceans.
"When the pollock, tuna and hoki are gone, what will the boats
take next? Will governments take a precautionary approach so we
still have a fishing industry for the next generation, or will they
just keep going until the nets come up empty?"
Background: The Alaska pollock is the white fish used in markets
worldwide, from everyday fish fingers to fish-fillet sandwiches,
and from processed seafood sold as crabmeat to caviar- like
delicacies. It is a billion-dollar industry.
This year, NMFS conducted two types of surveys to estimate the
health of the pollock population: a bottom trawl survey and an
echointegration survey. The bottom trawl survey abundance estimate
was the lowest on record, and the biomass estimate was down 23
percent from last year. The echo integration survey results, which
better reflect the number of younger fish, also revealed a decline
in biomass of eight percent to .916 million metric tons, down from
.997 million metric tons the previous year.
In the U.S., President Obama's handpicked Jane Lubchenco, a
prominent marine biologist and outspoken advocate for fisheries
management reform to head the National Oceanographic and
Atmospheric Agency (NOAA). As a member of the Pew Oceans
Commission, Lubchenco cited the need for ecosystem-based management
to prevent the nation's fisheries from collapsing. The Alaska
pollock fishery, the world's largest, is a good place to start.
Currently the Greenpeace ships Rainbow Warrior and Esperanza are
in the Mediterranean and Pacific as part of the global campaign for
a network of fully-protected marine reserves covering 40 percent of
our oceans. Marine reserves are essential to protect marine life
from overfishing and habitat destruction, and can play a vital role
in building resilience against the devastating effects of climate
VVPR info: Contact: Jane Kochersperger, Media Officer, Greenpeace, (202) 319- 2493 direct; (202) 680-3798 cell; John Hocevar, (512) 577-3868 cell
Notes: Rethinking Sustainability, an in-depth critique of the pollock fishery, is available online at
Greenpeace’s Coral Data for Bering Sea Canyons is available at: