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Cod, Atlantic Cod

Gadus morhua

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Faroes (Plateau)
Stock detail - Vb 1
Accreditation -
Fish type - White round fish

Sustainability rating Click for explaination of rating

This fish, caught by the methods and in the area listed above, is the least sustainable fish to eat and should be avoided. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find sustainable fish to eat.


Sustainability overview

This stock has shown some increase after reaching a historical low in 2007 but biomass is still below target and at the lowest possible level, Blim, of around 21,000 t. Fishing effort is now below the MSY target.

Biology

Cod belongs to a family of fish known as gadoids, which also includes species such as haddock, pollack, pouting and ling. It is a cold-temperate (boreal) marine, demersal (bottom-dwelling) species. Also found in brackish water. Their depth range is 0 - 600 m, but they are more usually found between 150 and 200 m. They have a common length of 100 cm. Maximum length 200 cm. Maximum published weight 96 kg and a maximum reported age of 25 years. In the North Sea cod mature at 4-5 years at a length of about 50 cm. They spawn in winter and the beginning of spring from February to April. Spawning sites are in offshore waters, at or near the bottom (50-200 m depth) and at water temperatures of 0-12 C (preferred range 0-6C). May form spawning aggregations in the water column when temperatures are unsuitable. Different spawning areas may be used in subsequent years. Embryo development lasts about 14 days (at 6C) and larval phase about 3 months (at 8C). Fecundity ranges from 2.5 million eggs in a 5 kg female to a record of 9 million eggs in a 34 kg female. Sex ratio is nearly 50%, with slight predominance of females. Classified as a determinate multiple spawner. Older and larger cod have been found to produce larger eggs with neutral buoyancy at lower salinities. This can be crucial to egg and larval survival. Larvae are pelagic up to 2.5 months before settling on the bottom. The fish has a protruding upper jaw, a conspicuous barbel on the lower jaw (used to look for food), and light lateral line, curved above the pectoral fins. Predorsal distance is less than one third of total length; body depth about 1/5 of total length. Colour varies from brownish to greenish or gray dorsally and on upper sides, becoming pale and silvery ventrally. Peritoneum silvery. Distribution: North Atlantic and Arctic: Ungava Bay in Canada along the North American coast to Cape Hatteras; North Carolina in the western Atlantic. East and west coast of Greenland; around Iceland; from Barents Sea including the region around Bear Island along the European coast to Bay of Biscay. Widely distributed in a variety of habitats, from the shoreline down to the continental shelf. Juveniles prefer shallow (less than 10-30 m depth) sublittoral waters with complex habitats, such as seagrass beds, areas with gravel, rocks, or boulder, which provide protection from predators. Adults are usually found in deeper, colder waters. During the day, cod form schools and swim about 30-80 m above the bottom, dispersing at night to feed. Omnivorous; feed at dawn or dusk on invertebrates and fish, including young cod. Migrate between spawning, feeding and overwintering areas, mostly within the boundaries of the respective stocks. Migrations >200 km are rare occurrences.

Stock information

Stock area
Faroes (Plateau)

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Stock information
Two distinct stocks are recognised in the Faroes. On the Faroes Plateau the stock has shown some increase after reaching a historical low in 2007, but remains below MSY trigger (a biomass reference point that triggers a cautious response, i.e. to reduce fishing mortality to allow a stock to rebuild) and around the Blim level since 2005. Fishing mortality has decreased since 2010 and is now below Flim, Fpa, and FMSY. ICES recommends a further decrease in fishing mortality in 2013 to bring the stock within precautionary limits. ICES advice for this stock in 2015 is to continue to reduce fishing mortality but by 23%, compared to 69% in 2014 and 63% in 2013.

Management

An effort management system has been in place since 1996; however this is not considered to be in line with the precautionary approach, and currently it is not being achieved. Management by effort can encourage accelerated technical creep and rapid increase of capacity per vessel. A group representing the Ministry of Fisheries, the Faroese industry, the University of the Faroe Islands, and the Faroe Marine Research Institute has developed a management plan based on general maximum sustainable yield (MSY) principles developed by ICES. The plan has not yet been approved by the authorities.

Capture information

Cod are mainly taken in a directed cod and haddock fishery with longlines (59%), in a directed jigging fishery, and as bycatch in the trawl fishery for saithe.

Read more about capture methods

Alternatives

Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below . Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Mullet, Red, Striped red mullet Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Alaska pollock, Walleye pollock Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Basa, Tra, Catfish or Vietnamese River Cobbler Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Bass, seabass Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Bream, Black or porgy or seabream

Bream, Gilthead Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Cod, Atlantic Cod Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Coley, Saithe Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Haddock Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Hake, Cape

Japanese amberjack, Yellowtail or Seriola

Meagre

Pouting or Bib

Sturgeon Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Tilapia

Whiting Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Wolffish


References
ICES Advice 2014, Book 4 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/cod-farp.pdf

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