Atlantic Cod

Common Name:

Atlantic Cod

Scientific Name:

Gadus morhua

Seafood guides quicktabs

Sourcing Summary

2.5-10 lbs.

Raw Atlantic cod fillets should have a glistening translucent flesh ranging from white to pinkish in coloration. Avoid fish with signs of drying or brown spots. The loin, sometimes called the "captain's cut" is the thickest part of the fillet and considered the best part of the fish. Atlantic cod has several differences when compared to Pacific cod: the fish has a silvery subcutaneous layer that Pacific cod doesn't have, less moisture content, more firm texture, a sweeter flavor, and generally a larger market size. Atlantic cod under 2.5 pounds are often referred to as 'scrod.' Many buyers recommend Atlantic cod caught by handline over trawl-caught cod for increased freshness. 

Harvest Methods

Wild

Handline
Bottom Trawl
Bottom Longline
Bottom Gillnet

Product Forms

Fresh

  • Fillet (skinless, boneless)

Frozen

  • Fillet (skinless, boneless)
  • H&G
Fresh Seasonal Availability
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec

Culinary Composition

Flavor

Texture

Oil

Cooking Methods

Health & Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 100 Grams
Amount per serving
  • Calories
    82.00
  • Total Fat
    0.63
    g
  • Cholesterol
    43.00
    mg
  • Sodium
    54.00
    mg
  • Carbohydrates
    0.00
    g
  • Protein
    17.80
    g
  • Omega-3
    0.20
    g

Recommended Servings per Month

Biology

Atlantic cod can live over 20 years and grow up to 51 inches and 77 pounds. They are capable of reproducing at 2 to 3 years old, when they are between 12 and 16 inches long. Atlantic cod spawn near the ocean floor from winter to early spring. They have high reproductive potential (fecundity). In fact, female cod can produce 3 to 9 million eggs when they spawn.

Atlantic cod are top predators in the bottom ocean community, feeding on a variety of invertebrates and fish. Many fish prey on larval and juvenile cod, but adults are so large they have few predators, typically just sharks.

Adult Atlantic cod are heavy-bodied and have a large head, blunt snout, and a distinct barbel (a whisker-like organ, like on a catfish) under their lower jaw. Their coloring varies, often changing depending on bottom habitats, but they usually have many small spots and a pale lateral line (the faint line that runs lengthwise down each side of the fish, from around the gill covers to the base of the tail).

Species Habitat

Atlantic cod is found on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the Northwest Atlantic, cod range from Greenland to Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. In U.S. waters, cod is most common on Georges Bank and the western Gulf of Maine. In the middle of its range, cod sometimes migrate in response to changing water temperatures. Adult cod live near the ocean floor along rocky slopes and ledges. They prefer to live in cold water at depths of around 30 to 500 feet on bottoms with coarse sediments, rather than on finer mud and silt.

Science & Management:
  • Wild
    Science: 

    Scientists at NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center conduct research bottom trawl surveys every year during the fall and spring throughout the Northeast continental shelf. These surveys collect data on the environment as well as biological samples from fish caught during research trawling. These data – along with similar data taken during surveys conducted by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, from sampling the landed catch, reported by fishermen and fish dealers, and collected by fishery observers – are used to help researchers monitor the condition of Atlantic cod and other species over time.

    Both the Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine cod stocks are at very low levels. In stock assessments, their abundance is measured in terms of "spawning stock biomass" – the amount of fish in the population capable of reproducing. According to the most recent scientific stock assessment, Gulf of Maine cod spawning stock biomass was estimated to be 11,868 metric tons in 2010. This estimate remains well below the target biomass level of 61,218 metric tons, so the Gulf of Maine stock is considered "overfished."

    Management: 

    Managers implemented new measures for the Northeast groundfish fishery in 2010 to end overfishing of and continue to rebuild overfished Northeast groundfish stocks (and maintain healthy ones). These measures include:

    • A limit on the amount of all groundfish that can be caught, as well as measures to respond if the catch limits are exceeded.
    • Optional catch share program – fishing vessels may fish together in groups (sectors), which are established annually and are allotted a portion of the total available groundfish catch, based on the combined fishing history of sector member vessels. Sectors are exempt from many gear and area restrictions but must stop fishing for groundfish once the sector catches their allotment of fish. This allows fishermen more control over where and how they fish and the ability to target healthier stocks rather than overfished stocks. Fishermen who choose not to join a sector must fish under the existing system of regulations, with limits on the number of days they can fish, amount they can catch, and when and where they can fish.

    The Georges Bank cod stock is a transboundary resource so the United States coordinates management of a portion of this stock with Canada. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada disclaimer manages the Canadian fishery on Georges Bank under an individual quota system. An informal understanding between Canada and the United States was implemented in 2004 to share the harvest of cod in the transboundary portion of the stock. This understanding includes total allowable catch quotas for each country as well as in-season monitoring of the U.S. catch of cod on eastern Georges Bank.

Wild

Impact on Stock

Atlantic cod is found in both the Northwest and Northeast Atlantic. It is highly fecund with a high reproductive potential but has long been overfished, causing dramatic declines. Many cod stocks are still experiencing overfishing, especially in the U.S. and Canada, although cod in the northeast Arctic and Iceland tends to be more abundant and is currently being fished more sustainably.

Habitat Impacts

Seafloor-dwelling Atlantic cod are primarily caught with bottom trawls, which are known to cause substantial damage to marine habitats. A small number of Atlantic cod in the U.S. are caught with bottom longlines, which causes low to moderate damage. The handlines and gillnets also used to catch Atlantic cod cause less destruction than trawling so the effect on the seabed is considered minimal, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Bycatch

The handline and longline Atlantic cod fisheries in the Northwest Atlantic tend to be relatively selective while bottom trawls and gillnets can accidentally catch non-targeted fish as well as marine mammals. The Monterey Bay Aquarium reported that bycatch with those gear types include overfished yellowtail flounder, harbor porpoise, skate species as well as undersized cod. Information about bycatch in the Iceland Atlantic cod fishery is poor but may include plaice, megrim, long rough dab and witch flounder. Despite the lack of bycatch data for Iceland, some bycatch reduction measures are in place.

Management Effectiveness

Atlantic cod abundance on Georges Bank and in the Gulf of Maine is in an overfished state and of high conservation concern, with fishing pressure on both stocks remaining too high as well, the Monterey Bay Aquarium reported in November 2013. Based on assessments done on both stocks in 2012, the quotas for 2013 were significantly reduced to help them rebuild, according to the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service. Management measures under the New England Fisheries Management Council include an observer program, bycatch reporting as well as temporary and permanent closed areas. Management measures in Canada are moderately effective since cod stocks haven’t fully recovered there. Atlantic cod fisheries in Iceland and Eastern Baltic are considered effectively managed and the fisheries in the Northeast Arctic and Europe have moderately effective management while management of the cod fishery around Rockall in the UK and the bottom trawl in Greenland is ineffective according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

Farmed
Origin Harvest Method Sustainability Ratings FIP Source
Baltic Sea (East) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Baltic Sea (West) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Baltic Sea (West) Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Canada Open - Net Pen
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Canada (FIP) Bottom Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4.5 Red Improver
Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)
FIP product
Canada (FIP) Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4.5 Red Improver
Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)
FIP product
Canada (FIP) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4.5 Red Improver
Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)
FIP product
Canada (FIP) Hook and Line
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4.5 Red Improver
Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)
FIP product
Canada (FIP) Handline
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4.5 Red Improver
Fishery Improvement Project (FIP)
FIP product
Canada - Atlantic Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Canada - Atlantic Trawl
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Canada - Atlantic Bottom Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Canada - Newfoundland & Labrador Handline
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Celtic Sea (South) and English Channel Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Celtic Sea (South) and English Channel Beam Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Celtic Sea (South) and English Channel Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Estonia - Northeast Arctic (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Europe Open - Net Pen
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Faroe Islands - Faroe Bank Jig
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Faroe Islands - Faroe Plateau Longline
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4 Think
Faroe Islands - Faroe Plateau Jig
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 3 Think
Faroe Islands - Faroe Plateau Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4 Think
Greenland - Barents Sea (MSC) Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Greenland - Western Pound Net
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 3 Think
Greenland - Western Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Iceland (MSC) Wild-caught
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 1 Best Choice
Irish Sea Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 4 Think
Kattegat Bay Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Kattegat Bay Seine Net
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Kattegat Bay Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
North Sea Danish Seine
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
North Sea Hook and Line
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
North Sea Pot/Trap
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
North Sea, Eastern English Channel, Skagerrak Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
North Sea, Eastern English Channel, Skagerrak Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Norway - Barents Sea (MSC) Wild-caught
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Norway - Norwegian Sea (MSC) Wild-caught
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Norwegian Coast Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
Russia - Barents Sea (MSC) Longline
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Russia - Barents Sea (MSC) Trawl
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Russia - Barents Sea (MSC) Longline
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Russia - Norwegian Sea (MSC) Trawl
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide- Rating 2 Best Choice
Russia - Norwegian Sea (MSC) Longline
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Unassessed Origin Unassessed Fishing Methods
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Unassessed Origin Unassessed Farming Methods
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
United Kingdom - Cornwall Handline
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
United Kingdom - Cornwall Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
United Kingdom - Cornwall Beam Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
United Kingdom - Cornwall Gillnet
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
United Kingdom - Rockall Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
United Kingdom - Scotland Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
United Kingdom - Scotland - West of Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide- Rating 5 Avoid
USA Open - Net Pen
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Georges Bank Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Georges Bank Set Longlines
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Georges Bank Set Gillnets
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Georges Bank Handlines and Hand-Operated Pole-and-Lines
Seafood Watch- Good Alternative
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Gulf of Maine Set Longlines
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Gulf of Maine Set Gillnets
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Gulf of Maine Handlines and Hand-Operated Pole-and-Lines
Seafood Watch- Good Alternative
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Gulf of Maine Bottom Trawls
Seafood Watch- Avoid
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
NOAA FSSI- 1 out of 4
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Worldwide RAS - recirculating aquaculture systems (with wastewater treatment)
Seafood Watch- Best Choice
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Worldwide RAS - recirculating aquaculture systems (without wastewater treatment)
Seafood Watch- Good Alternative
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Name Country State/Province
Airson Seafood Iceland
Allseas Fisheries Corp. Canada Ontario
American Fish & Seafood Company United States California
Arctic Fisheries Ltd. United States New York
Barry Group, Inc. Canada Newfoundland and Labrador
Beaver Street Fisheries, Inc. United States Florida
Beyond the Sea Sales and Marketing, Inc. United States Massachusetts
Blue Circle Foods United States District of Columbia
Blueyou Ltd. Switzerland ZH
Catanese Classic Seafood United States Ohio
Clear Springs Foods, Inc United States Idaho
Daily Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Darel Co Inc. DBA Elafood USA United States Massachusetts
DOM International Limited Canada Ontario
Domstein Fish AS Norway SJ
Euclid Fish Company United States Ohio
FaroeLandia Ltd. Denmark
Flying Fish Company United States Oregon
Gulf of Maine Sashimi United States Maine
Halperns' Purveyors of Steak and Seafood United States Georgia
Ice-co Foods Iceland
Intercity Packers Meat & Seafood Canada British Columbia
John Nagle Co. United States Massachusetts
Joseph Robertson United Kingdom
Kingsun Foods Co., Ltd China Liaoning Sheng
Lerøy Seafood USA, Inc United States North Carolina
Lotus Seafood Inc. United States California
M&B Sea Products, Inc. United States Massachusetts
Macgregors Meat & Seafood Ltd. Canada Ontario
Marinex SA Switzerland
Maximum Seafood Canada Ontario
Mazzetta Company, LLC. United States Illinois
Nordic Catch United States California
Northern Lakes Seafood & Meats United States Michigan
Orca Bay Seafoods, Inc. United States Washington
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Platina Seafood United States Florida
Polar Quality AS Norway
Profish Ltd. United States District of Columbia
Red's Best United States Massachusetts
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
Salties Imports Canada Alberta
Sammy's Seafood Inc United States Florida
Samuels & Son Seafood Company, Inc. United States Pennsylvania
Santa Monica Seafood, Inc. United States California
Scottish Seas United Kingdom
Sea Born Products, Inc. United States Massachusetts
Seacore Seafood Canada Ontario
Seattle Fish Company United States Colorado
Seattle Fish Company - Kansas City United States Missouri
Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico United States New Mexico
SHS, LLC. United States Colorado
Sizzlefish United States North Carolina
Slade Gorton & Co Inc. United States Massachusetts
Southstream Seafoods, Inc. United States Rhode Island
Star Fisheries Inc. United States California
Sun Rice Corporation | mmmediterranean United States New Jersey
Sustainable Seafood Sales, LLC. United States Maine
Thalassa Seafoods Belgium
The Fish Guys Inc. United States Minnesota
The Fishin' Company United States Pennsylvania
The Hadley Company United States Massachusetts
The Lobster Place Wholesale Seafood United States New York
Tradex Foods Inc. Canada British Columbia
Tropical Aquaculture Products, Inc. United States Vermont
Visscher Seafood Netherlands
Whitecap International Seafood Exporters Canada Newfoundland and Labrador

Acknowledgements

  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Marine Stewardship Council
  • NOAA Fisheries
  • Seafood Watch Program
  • SeafoodSource
Last Updated: 8/7/2020