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

XIV NAFO 1A-E (inshore)

Picture of Cod, Atlantic Cod

Sustainability rating three 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 although the biomass is estimated to have increased 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 in 2018 should be no more than 13 952 tonnes. Avoid eating cod taken in the offshore fishery as this component of the stock is depleted.


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: 0.5 info

Stock Area

West Greenland

Stock information

No reference points are defined for this stock, so the state of the stock cannot be fully evaluated. It comprises an inshore and an offshore component, each receiving a separate TAC. The fishery in this inshore region is a mixed-stock fishery which includes other Greenland cod stocks (south and east Greenland cod, as well as offshore west Greenland cod) and Iceland cod. There is no evaluation of the proportional contribution of these individual stocks to the catches. The stock biomass index for the inshore component suggests that the overall stock has fluctuated without trend at a high level in recent years. Recruitment has been around average for the past three years following record-high values in 2010-2013. Catches have risen since 2000 and were in 2016 at their highest level in 25 years. ICES advises that when the precautionary approach is applied, catches in 2018 should be no more than 13 952 tonnes (12,379 in 2015 -2017; 12 063 t in 2014).


Criterion score: 0.5 info

There is no management plan for the inshore component of the stock. Catches have historically exceeded scientific advice for both components of the stock. Some components of the stock complex in the inshore region may be susceptible to local depletion and the requirement for tailored local spatial management has been suggested.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

No trawling is allowed in the inshore area. Inshore cod is primarily (62%) targeted by poundnets in the summer months. This fishery allows fish under the legal size to be released. In the winter months fish are fished with longlines and gillnets.


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
Japanese amberjack, Yellowtail or Seriola
Pollack or Lythe
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Pouting or Bib
Sturgeon (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2017, Book 2