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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 - Kattegat
Stock detail - IIIa
Certification -
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 not a good choice of sustainable fish to eat and should be only eaten very occasionally. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find more sustainable fish to eat.


Sustainability overview

The cod population in the Kattegat is increasing from an historic low. There is no directed cod fishery in Kattegat. Cod is landed mainly by trawlers (71%) and is taken as bycatch in the Nephrops fishery. Although there are management measures in place to reduce discarding, it is currently estimated at 80%. Fishing in the Kattegat over the past 100 years has led to profound changes, with certain species becoming extremely rare or even absent.

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. 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. The fish has a protruding upper jaw, a conspicuous barbel on the lower jaw (used to look for food), and a light lateral line, curved above the pectoral fins. 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.

Stock information

Stock area
Kattegat

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Stock information
Spawning stock biomass for this stock has been increasing from 2009 when it was at a historically low level. Biological reference points are not defined for the stock but fishing pressure and stock status are determined as stable. Recruitment in 2013 is amongst the highest in recent years. For many years ICES has advised no landings of cod from the fishery. For the first time since 2002 ICES advises in 2016 that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches in 2017 should be no more than 643 tonnes. If discard rates do not change from 2015, this implies landings of no more than 129 tonnes (and a discard rate of 80%).

Management

A management plan has been in place since 2005 to reduce fishing effort and increase cod avoidance. Measures are in place to rebuild the stock such as protected areas on cod spawning grounds, introduced in 2009 by Denmark and Sweden. Mandatory use of selective panels or grids have not been effective in reducing discards, currently estimated at 80%

Capture information

There is no directed cod fishery in Kattegat. Cod is landed mainly by trawlers (71%) and is taken as bycatch in the Nephrops fishery. 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 this grid has reduced discards of cod in Swedish fisheries in recent years although further development and introduction of selective trawls with low catchability on cod is recommended. Discard rates for the Kattegat cod fisheries are estimated at 80%. 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.

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.

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 (Farmed) 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, Gilthead (Farmed) 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

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

Japanese amberjack, Yellowtail or Seriola

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

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

Sturgeon (Farmed) 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.


References
ICES Advice 2016, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2016/2016/cod-kat.pdf

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