The cod population in the Kattegat is at an historic low and outside safe biological limits. ICES advises that there should be no directed fisheries and bycatch and discards should be minimised. Fishing in the Kattegat over the past 100 years has led to profound changes, with certain species becoming extremely rare or even absent. Avoid eating cod from depleted stocks.
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), demersal (bottom-dwelling) species.They spawn in winter and spring from February to April. In the North Sea, cod mature at 4-5 years at a length of about 50cms and can live up to 60 years.
Spawning stock biomass is at the historically lowest level since 2000, and is outside of safe biological limits (B< Blim) and suffering from reduced reproductive capacity. Recruitment in recent years has been among the lowest in the time series. In recent years reported landings do not represent total removals from the stock; unaccounted removals have been 5-8 times the reported landings or Total Allowable Catch (TAC). In 2009 Denmark and Sweden introduced protected areas on cod spawning grounds to help rebuild the stock. Despite a managment plan being in place since 2005 the stock biomass has continued to decline. ICES advises that there should be no directed fisheries and bycatch and discards should be minimised.
Kattegat cod are mainly landed by trawls and Danish seines. In recent years cod is caught as bycatch in the Nephrops fishery. Discarding of young cod and possibly also high-grading of marketable cod takes place. Since 2004 the use of trawls with codend mesh size below 90mm in the nephrops fishery has only been permitted if the net is fitted with a sorting grid. The use of the Swedish sorting grid has increased in 2009 and 2010 and it is now the main gear used in Swedish Nephrops fisheries. The increased use of the sorting grid has reduced discards of cod in Swedish fisheries in recent years. Further development and introduction of selective trawls with low catchability on cod is recommended. Total landings (2010) 155 t (of which 74% Nephrops trawl, 10% > 100 mm trawl, 8% gill nets). There is potential damage to the seabed by trawling. Trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish, i.e. undersized and/or non-quota and/or over-quota species. Since January 2003 the basic minimum mesh size for towed gears for cod has been 120mm. The minimum landing size for cod in waters in Skagerrak/Kattegat is 30cm. In all other EU waters it is 35cm. The approximate size at which 50% of females first spawn is, however, 60 to 70cm. Choose gillnet or Danish seine-caught where available.
The Net Effect. A WDCS Report for Greenpeace. Ross and Isaac (2004); The Price of Fish: A review of cetacean bycatch in fisheries in the north-east Atantic. L Nunny (2011); ICES Advice 2012, Book 6
(Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 3 and below are included.)
Read what the consumer pages of the Good Fish Guide say about this species.
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