Cod, Pacific Cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Jig
Capture area — North East Pacific (FAO 67)
Stock area — Alaska
Stock detail

Bering Sea

Picture of Cod, Pacific Cod

Sustainability rating one info

Sustainability overview

Biomass is above reference points and the fishery is not undergoing overfishing. B2017/BMSY is 327,000/248000, therefore, B/BMSY = 1.5. Cod are managed under the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fishery Management Plan which is managed using quotas, permits and monitored through record keeping, reporting requirements, and observer monitoring. No discarding of whole fish of these species is allowed. There is minimal bycatch in jig fisheries and to further mitigate the impact on bycatch, the fishery management plan establishes catch limits for prohibited species and there are seasonal closures, vessel monitoring systems and quota share programs. Jig fishing incurs minimal impact on the habitat. The fishery management council declared in a 2017 report that no further mitigation is needed to protect essential fish habitat at this time.


Pacific cod are also known as grey cod. They are found on the shelf edge and upper slope (100-250 m) in the winter, moving to shallower waters (<100 m) in the summer. Pacific cod are a demersal species, found near the sea floor. They are a moderately fast growing, short-lived species, reaching an average length of 19 cm in their first year and have a maximum age of 18 years. Half of the females reach sexual maturity at 4.4 years in the Gulf of Alaska and 4.9 years in the Bering Sea. Females grow significantly faster in the Bering Sea, compared to the Gulf of Alaska. They produce around 1 million eggs. Pacific cod prey includes clams, worms, crabs, shrimp, and juvenile fish. Their predators generally include halibut and marine mammals.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0 info

Stock Area


Stock information

The Pacific Cod stocks in this area are assessed regularly. The most recent assessment concluded that the stock is in a healthy state. The stock is not overfished (defined as B2017/BMSY is 327,000/248000, therefore, B/BMSY = 1.5) and is not undergoing overfishing. Fishing mortality is considered to be within safe limits.


Criterion score: 0 info

The Bering Sea’s Cod fishery is managed under the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands (BSAI) Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (FMP). This FMP includes a suite of measures to protect the stock. The FMP mandates a total allowable catch, which is regularly updated to reflect the likely biomass in the catch.

The FMP requires all vessels to have a permit and licences to fish in this fishery; catches are monitored and all cod that is caught must be retained. A proportion (10.7%) of the total allowable catch is allocated to the community development quota program, and the rest is provided to the various fishing fleets. Prohibited species (such as the Pacific Halibut) must be returned to the sea unless otherwise authorised. If catches are authorised, catches are strictly limited and monitored. Though catches of these species are likely small in the jig fishery as it is a selective gear type. Reporting of catch and effort is mandatory through the Catch Accounting System (CAS) to monitor the target catch and bycatch. There is a very low observer coverage levels in the Jig fishery.

The FMP was implemented in 1982 and covers the groundfish fishery.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

Jigging is a very selective capture method. There are no known retained species. There is no recorded interaction with endangered, threatened or protected species. However, there is no observer coverage in the fishery and therefore there is some uncertainty in the impact on bycatch.

Various squid species are used as bait to catch cod. Though the scale of bait used in the fishery is small and therefore, unlikely has an impact on the bait species.

Jigging poses a low risk to the habitat.


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
Cod, Pacific Cod
Coley, Saithe
Hake, Cape
Hake, European
Pollock, Alaska, Walleye
Sturgeon (Farmed)


Froese, R. and Pauly, D. Editors. 2015.FishBase. Available at [Accessed August 2018].

NOAA, 2017. Pacific Cod Research. Available at: [Accessed August 2018].

FishWatch. 2018. Pacific Cod Gadus macrocephalus. Available at: [Accessed on 14th August 2018].

Thompson, G.,2017. Assessment of the Pacific Cod Stock in the East Bering Sea. Report produced for NOAA. Seattle. WA. Available at:

NOAA. 2018. North Pacific Observer Program. Available at: [Accessed 14th August 2018].

North Pacific Fishery Management Council. 2017. FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLAN for Groundfish of the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands Management Area. Anchorage, Alaska. Available at:

NOAA. 2017. Assessment of the effects of fishing on Essential Fish Habitat in Alaska. C6 Fishing Effects Discussion Paper. Available at:
br>Simpson, S. C., Eagleton, M. P., Olson, J. V., Harrington, G. A., and Kelly, S.R. 2017. Final Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) 5-year Review, Summary Report: 2010 through 2015. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS-F/AKR-15, 115p.

Bowen, D., Rice, J., Trumble, R.J. 2015. MSC Public Certification Report for Alaska Pacific Cod Fishery Bering Sea Aleutian Islands.

Bowen, D., Rice, J., Trumble, R.J.MSC 2nd Annual Surveillance Report Remote Surveillance for Alaska Pacific Cod Fishery Bering Sea-Aleutian Islands.

NMFS. 2015. BIOLOGICAL OPINION For the Effects of the Fishery Management Plans for the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands Groundfish Fisheries and the State of Alaska Parallel Groundfish Fisheries. Anchorage, Alaska. Available at: