Cod, Atlantic Cod

Gadus morhua

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Jig
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Faroe Bank
Stock detail — 5b.2
Picture of Cod, Atlantic Cod

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

Fishing effort in this area has been too high and cod is being exploited unsustainably. The fishery has been closed since January 2009. However, fishing days are allowed to small jiggers when the scientific advice should apply to all fisheries. Thus, because of the very low stock size ICES advises that the fishery should be closed. Avoid eating fish 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.

Stock information

Criterion score: 1 info

Stock Area

Faroe Bank

Stock information

Two distinct stocks are recognised in the Faroes. The Faroes Bank fishery is not defined in relation to scientific limits, but surveys indicate that the stock is severely depleted. The Bank has been closed to fishing since January 2009, with a nominal landing of 80t in the same year - the lowest since 1965. Because of the very low stock size ICES advises that the fishery should be closed. ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, there should be zero catch in each of the years 2017, 2018, and 2019.


Criterion score: 0.75 info

The Faroe Bank has been closed to fishing since 1 January 2009. However, in the fishing years 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 respectively, a total of 78 and 100 fishing days were allowed to small jiggers in the shallow waters of the Bank. ICES advises that the closure advice should apply to all fisheries.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0 info

Since 1996 trawlers have been excluded from fishing on the Faroes Bank, and the fishery restricted to longliners and jiggers, with a total fishing ban during the spawning season, March to May. The fishery is now closed to all fishing except jigging. In 2015 17 t of cod was caught and landed by jiggers.


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
Bass, seabass (Farmed)
Bream, Gilthead (Farmed)
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES, 2016. Advice 2016, Book 4 Available at: (Accessed July 2018)