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Atlantic cod is listed as vulnerable by IUCN
Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and Greenland cod (Gadus ogac).
Colder waters and deep sea regions throughout the Northern Atlantic and eastern and western regions of the Pacific
When fishing went wrong
Cod is a popular food fish with a mild flavor, low fat content and a dense white flesh that flakes easily. Cod livers are processed to make cod liver oil, a nutritional supplement
In the UK, Atlantic cod is one of the most common kinds of fish to be found in fish and chips, It is also well known for being largely consumed in Portugal and Spain.
Always more fish in the sea? Not anymore
Western Europe accounts for 70–80% of the world cod market, with the UK being Europe’s largest importer and consumer. Cod, together with the similar whitefish pollock and hake, accounts for one-third of all seafood imports into the EU.
European fleets*: Norway, Iceland, Russia, Faeroe Islands, Denmark, Spain, UK, Germany, Poland, Sweden, France, Portugal, Latvia, Lithuania, Belgium, Netherlands, Estonia, Ireland, Finland, Isle of Man, Channel Islands
* in order of landings in 2004, largest to smallest; countries in bold accounted for 77% of the total catch.
What are the main threats to cod?
Cod are currently at risk from overfishing in the UK, Canada and most other Atlantic countries. As fisheries have become more efficient at catching cod, populations have declined.
Continued unregulated, unreported and illegal fishing, together with liberal quotas mean the stocks do not have a chance to recover. Use of indiscriminate fishing gear which leads to cod bycatch also contributes to the problem.
Global cod catch has suffered a 70% drop over the last 30 years, and if this trend continues, the world’s cod stocks will disappear in 15 years. Despite a moratorium of over 15 years, cod stocks in Canada's Grand Banks have still not recovered and there are fears the ecosystem has been permanently altered by humanity's greed.
What is WWF doing?
WWF works with fisheries around the world to reduce ecosystem harm caused by damaging and wasteful fishing practices.WWF lobbies government and fishery management organisations calling for quotas to be set at sustainable levels.
It works with retailers and consumers to promote Marine Stewardship Council certification.
WWF promotes smart fishing gear and lobbies for its introduction on a compulsory basis. This includes eliminator trawls which allows cod to escape when the quota is almost reached, reducing unnecessary discard and bycatch.
How you can help
- Always ask for Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification when buying cod
- Spread the word! Click on the button to share this information with others via email or your favourite social networking service.