Alaska pollock boasts the second largest catch of any seafood in Hokkaido next to scallops. Freshly caught Alaska pollock is great for hot pots or simmered dishes, and its roe become tarako when pickled in brine. Milt, or tachi, is enjoyed, like madara milt, as an ingredient in soups and hot pots. The meat of Alaska pollock is widely used as an ingredient in minced fish products such as kamaboko, too.
Alaska pollock lose their freshness quite quickly and when frozen the quality of its meat deteriorates. This is why it was not used in minced fish products, but in 1960 the Hokkaido Fisheries Experimental Station developed a technology that made it possible for the fish to retain its quality even when used in minced fish products.
Nearly all of the waters off Hokkaido, including the Sea of Japan, Pacific Ocean, and Okhotsk Sea, are fishing grounds for Alaska pollock.
■ Map / Main municipalities with fishing grounds
Wakkanai City, Abashiri City, Monbetsu City, Rausu Town, Kushiro City, Urakawa Town, Muroran City, Shiraoi City, Mori Town, Shikabe Town
At the turn of the 19th century Alaska pollock was caught for the first time in the Sea of Japan off the coast of Iwanai Town, and fishing of this species later spread to other parts of the prefecture.Today, Alaska pollock is mainly caught in offshore trawling or tangle nets, but in Southern Hokkaido’s Hiyama region Alaska pollock is caught using longline fishing. Unlike trawling and tangle nets, longline fishing does not harm the body of the fish, resulting in a fresher fish being brought to port.
In addition, in Yakumo Town, where a fishing port with roof for better hygiene has been set up, fish are washed with clean, pure deep seawater and then placed in foamed styrol packages for transport which also use deepsea water. This processes makes it possible to ship Alaska pollock long distances and still retain their freshness. In addition, resource management is thoroughly practiced by limiting the fishing season as part of efforts to ensure a stable stock of the fish.
Alaska pollock is caught almost year round with the exception of summer, although the season differs slightly based on the location of the fishing grounds.