Fish Radio

Pollock pushes for name change

October 9, 2015

Pollock is widely used in fish sandwiches and fish sticks.  "Alaska" pollock should be from Alaska!

Pollock is widely used in fish sandwiches and fish sticks. “Alaska” pollock should be from Alaska!

This is Fish Radio. I’m Laine Welch – Alaska pollock pushes for a name change. More after this –

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When is Alaska pollock not really Alaska pollock? 

When it is listed as such by the FDA, which governs what every US seafood product will be called. The Food and Drug Administration applies the Alaska Pollock moniker to all fish of that species, regardless of where it is caught.

So if the fish is caught in Korea or Japan or Russia it still can be sold as Alaska pollock in the United States. And that’s not the case with Alaska salmon or halibut or Alaska crab. 

Pat Shanahan is Program Director for the trade group Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers.

That’s why we are called the Genuine Alaska Pollock producers, because it’s not enough to say we’re just the Alaska pollock producers because we could be from Russia.

The FDA’s own Seafood List  guidelines discourage use of   ‘geographic descriptors’ unless they are accurate.  But that standard is not being applied to Alaska pollock, one of most widely eaten fish in the nation.

Right now they go into a retail case and see Alaska salmon, Alaska crab, Alaska halibut and Alaska pollock. They assume it’s all from Alaska. We did a survey asking consumers across the country and the vast majority  said they would feel misled if their fish was labeled from Alaska and it wasn’t.  

The reality  is that 40 to 50 percent of that pollock is likely from Russia – ironically, a country that continues its ban on all US seafood imports. The GAPP group has been pushing the labeling issue with the FDA for a year.

So our request is to remove the name Alaska from the acceptable market name because if we do that, then only that fish that’s from Alaska would be able to be labeled Alaska pollock. We’re not saying we wouldn’t use the brand Alaska – we want to use it. But we don’t want it to be used incorrectly by products that are not from Alaska.

People want to know where their seafood is coming from, Shanahan says. They want to support well managed US  fisheries, and have confidence in product safety and quality.

Alaska has done so much to build a great brand and we would like to take advantage of that   identity. And we are not really able to do that as long as our competitors can use the same name.

The pollock issue picked up steam this month with a bipartisan bill by Alaska and Washington Senators that seeks the Pollock name change on federal seafood rosters.
Fish Radio is also brought to you by Ocean Beauty Seafoods – who salutes and says thanks to the men and women fishing across Alaska for their hard work and dedication. ( In Kodiak, I’m Laine Welch.