MarLIN

information on the biology of species and the ecology of habitats found around the coasts and seas of the British Isles

Saithe (Pollachius virens)

Distribution data supplied by the Ocean Biogeographic Information System (OBIS). To interrogate UK data visit the NBN Atlas.

Summary

Description

The saithe or coalfish Pollachius virens is a member of the pollack family. It can reach 1.2 m in length. It has three dorsal and two anal fins. It has a straight lateral line, which is light in colour. The back and sides are usually dusky greenish-brown in colour and the belly is silvery white. The upper and lower jaws are approximately equal in length.

Recorded distribution in Britain and Ireland

Found throughout the British Isles and Ireland. More common off the north-west coasts of Scotland and Ireland.

Global distribution

-

Habitat

The saithe is a benthopelagic species; an active, gregarious fish occurring both inshore and offshore. It usually enters coastal waters in spring and returns to deeper waters (up to 350 m) in winter

Depth range

up to 350

Identifying features

  • Compressed body up to 1.2 m in length.
  • Dusky greenish-brown dorsal colouring, silvery white ventrally.
  • Three dorsal fins and two anal fins.
  • Straight, smooth, light-coloured lateral line.
  • Shallowly forked tail fin.
  • The chin barbel is absent.

Additional information

Saithe is a highly valued commercial species for human consumption. To maintain sustainable saithe fisheries and create a greater potential yield, the EU and Norway have agreed on a precautionary approach. The stock is now managed by annual TACs (total allowable catch) and a minimum mesh size for several types of fishing gear limits the bycatch of smaller individuals. Unlike the pollack Pollachius pollachius, it has a straight lateral line, which is light in colour.

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Further information sources

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Bibliography

  1. Cargnelli, L.M., Griesbach, S.J., Packer, D.B., Berrien, P.L., Johnson, D.L. & Morse, W.W., 1999. Essential Fish Habitat Source Document: Pollock, Pollachius virens, Life History and Habitat Characteristics. NOAA Technical Memorandum, NMFS-NE-131

  2. Cohen, D.M., Inada, T., Iwamoto, T. & Scialabba, N., 1990. FAO species catalogue. Vol. 10. Gadiform Fishes of the World. An Annotated and Illustrated Catalogue of Cods, Hakes, Grenadiers and Other Gadiform Fishes Known to Date. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Fisheries Synopsies, 125

  3. Frimodt, C., 1995. Multilingual illustrated guide to the world's commercial coldwater fish. Fishing News Books, Osney Mead, Oxford, England.

  4. Froese, R. & Pauly, D., 2007. Fishbase. A global information system on fishes. [On-line] http://www.fishbase.org, 2008-02-18

  5. Howson, C.M. & Picton, B.E., 1997. The species directory of the marine fauna and flora of the British Isles and surrounding seas. Belfast: Ulster Museum. [Ulster Museum publication, no. 276.]

  6. National Biodiversity Network (NBN) Atlas website. Available from: http://www.nbnatlas.org.  Accessed 01 April 2017

  7. OBIS,  2017. Global map of species distribution using gridded data. Available from: Ocean Biogeographic Information System. www.iobis.org. Accessed: 2017-11-18

  8. Picton, B.E. & Costello, M.J., 1998. BioMar biotope viewer: a guide to marine habitats, fauna and flora of Britain and Ireland. [CD-ROM] Environmental Sciences Unit, Trinity College, Dublin., http://www.itsligo.ie/biomar/

Citation

This review can be cited as:

Barnes, M.K.S. 2008. Pollachius virens Saithe. In Tyler-Walters H. and Hiscock K. (eds) Marine Life Information Network: Biology and Sensitivity Key Information Reviews, [on-line]. Plymouth: Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Available from: http://www.marlin.ac.uk/species/detail/84

Last Updated: 22/05/2008