Cod, Atlantic Cod
Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Gill or fixed net
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - Kattegat
Stock detail - IIIa
Fish type - White round fish
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) 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.
Spawning stock biomass for this stock has been at a historically low level since 2000. It is outside safe biological limits (B< Blim) and suffering from reduced reproductive capacity. Recruitment in recent times 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. ICES continues to advise that there be no directed fisheries and bycatch and discards should be minimised.
Despite a management plan being in place since 2005 to reduce fishing effort and increase cod avoidance, and measures in place to rebuild the stock such as closures of spawning grounds the stock biomass has continued to decline. Neither have existing management measures, for example mandatory use of selective panels or grids been effective in reducing discards. In 2013 discards were almost 4 times the amount of fish landed.
Kattegat cod are mainly landed by trawls and Danish seines. In recent years cod has been 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.
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.
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 2014, Book 6 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/cod-kat.pdf
Sign up to get all the latest marine related news from MCS
The UK charity for the protection of our seas, shores and wildlife.