Cod, Atlantic Cod

Gadus morhua

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Poundnet
Capture area — North West Atlantic (FAO 21)
Stock area — West Greenland
Stock detail — NAFO Sub area 1
Picture of Cod, Atlantic Cod

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

The stock in this area comprises two components, an offshore component and an inshore component. The offshore component has been severely depleted since 1990. The state of the inshore component is unknown with respect to biological reference points although the biomass is estimated to have increased by 202% in recent years. ICES continues to advise that no fishing should take place on the offshore component of the stock and that catches in the inshore fishery should not exceed 12 379 t in 2015.


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

West Greenland

Stock information

Cod in Greenland derives from three stock components: an offshore Greenland spawning stock; inshore West Greenland fiords spawning populations; and an Icelandic spawned cod that drift to Greenland with the Irminger Current. The observed size of recent year classes suggests good recruitment. Survey indices suggest that the stock size is increasing. For this stock the biomass is estimated to have increased by 202% between the average of the three 2006, 2009, and 2010 surveys and the average of the two 2011-2012 surveys. The current fishery does not appear to impair recruitment. Based on the ICES approach to data-limited stocks, ICES advises that catches should be no more than 12 379 t in 2015 (12, 063 t in 2014; 8000 t in 2013). All catches are assumed to be landed.


There is no management plan for the Greenland inshore cod. The coastal fleets TAC is set at 5000 t in 2010. The fleet is limited by gear, vessel size, and minimum landing size, and is mostly operating in inshore and coastal waters. To protect the spawning stock in the Greenland EEZ all fisheries for cod are prohibited north of 62??N latitude off East Greenland. Off West Greenland the offshore areas west of 44??N longitude are closed to fisheries for cod to protect the 2005 year-class entering the SSB in 2010 to 2012.

Capture Information

No trawling is allowed in the inshore area. Inshore cod is primarily targeted by poundnets (75% of catch) in the summer months (June-September) close to shore in shallow waters, and partly using longlines and gillnets during winter. The dominating poundnet fishery is gentle and fish under the legal size (40cms) can be released. No other fisheries in the fjord catch cod as bycatch. Total catches (2012) are 10 673 t, where 100% were landings (73% gear-type poundnet and 27% handlines, longlines, gillnets, and other gear types). 0% discards, 0% industrial bycatch, and 0% unaccounted removals.


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
Cod, Atlantic Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, European
Monkfish, Anglerfish
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2014, Book 2; ICES Advice 2013, Book 2