Where is your cod coming from?

Freshfish counter in Paris, with cod loins and other fillets. Foto: FOS

Atlantic cod (latin: Gadua morhua) is being caught in the East and West part of the North Atlantic Ocean, from East coast of Canada to the East part of the Barents Sea,from Spitzbergen in the north to Rockall and in the Baltic Sea. Atlantic cod is a groundfish, feeding close to the ocean bed on 300-400m depth. The largest stock is in the Barents Sea and Norwegian Sea followed by Iceland Grounds. These are just two stocks, but in total there are 30 independent stocks with an annual catch of around 1.1m MT.

When you buy Atlantic cod in the fresh fish counter, freezer or in a restaurant, you can be informed from which FAO area he is coming from, and some sellers give you a tracking code with information about the ICES or NAFO subarea he is coming from. But in most cases, there is very little information, and that needs to change. The normal thing should be that you know exactly which stock you are consuming.

Each fish stock needs to be managed in a sustainable way, and in most cases this is done. There is then a management plan in place, based on scientific research with an agreed total allowable catch (TAC) and quotas allocated to vessels. Many stocks are certified, e.g. by MSCf, which helps the industry, in addition there is FishSource, where you can get neutral information about most stocks.

Here is a list of all known stocks of Atlantic cod and where they are harvested, with annual catch in 2019.

StockSubareaCatch areaCatch in MT
Northeast Atlantic FAO 27
Northeast Arctic codICES 1 & 2Barents Sea639,802
Icelandic codICES 5.a.1Iceland grounds265,918
Norwegian coastal cod northICES 2.a.2Norway coastal >67°52,807
North Sea, East English Channel and Skagerrak codICES 3.a.20, 4.a.b.c, 7.d North Sea, East English Channel and Skagerrak. 31,468
Faroe Plateau codICES 5.b.1Faroe Plateau20,670
East and Southwest Greenland codICES 14.b.1, 1FEast and Southwest Grl18,074
Eastern Baltic codICES 3.2.25-32East Baltic Ocean8,283
Norwegian coastal cod southICES 2.a.2Norway coastal 62-67°7,765
Western Baltic codICES West Baltic Ocean7,701
West of Scotland codICES 6.a, 12, 14.aWest of Scotland1,485
Celtic Sea and West English Channel codICES 7.e-k Celtic Sea and West English Channel1,051
Irish Sea codICES 7.aIrish Sea302
Kattegat codICES 3.a.21Kattegat123
Rockall codICES 6.b.1Rockall66
Faroe Bank codICES 5.b.2Faroe Bank
Murman codICES 1.bBarents Sea coastal
Total catch in FAO area 271,075,613
Northwest Atlantic FAO 21
West Greenland inshore codNAFO 1A…FWest Greenland19,753
Flemish cap codNAFO 3MFlemish cap13,010
Northern codNAFO 2J, 3KL10,484
South Newfoundland codNAFO 3PsSouth Newfoundland3,621
West Greenland offshore codNAFO 1A….F899
North Gulf of St. Lawrence, Laurentian North codNAFO 3Pn, 4RS517
Southern Grand Bank codNAFO 3N, 3O505
South Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy codNAFO 4X, 5Y491
Eastern Georges Bank codNAFO 5Ze388
Eastern Scotian shelf codNAFO 4Vs, 4W81
South Gulf of St. Lawrence codNAFO 4T, 4Vn25
Labrador codNAFO 2GH0
US Gulf of Maine codNAFO 5Y0
Others not identifiedNAFO 61,017
Total catch in FAO area 2150.791
Total Atlantic cod catch in 20191.130.627