Cod

Cod

Atlantic cod

At a glance

Eco-rating Mercury Omega-3s
+-Alaska cod (longline)
Best
Moderate

More about Alaska cod

Closely related to its Atlantic cousin, Alaska Cod is a cold-water dweller with a characteristic chin barbel (which resembles a goatee), thought to help it sense the ocean floor. It eats a wide variety of other fish and crustaceans and can reach 1.2 meters (4 feet). It is used in Chinese medicine.

Commercial Sources

Alaska cod are found in the North Pacific Ocean, from the Yellow Sea in East Asia to the Bering Strait, around the Aleutian Islands, and south to California. However, they are rare in the southern end of their range.

Alaska cod are caught commercially by the United States, Russia, Japan and China. Almost all Pacific cod sold in the U.S. market is caught domestically; small amounts are imported from China and Russia.

Capture Methods

Alaska cod come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include longlines, handlines, Danish seines, gillnets and traps.

+-U.S. Pacific cod (trawl)
OK
Moderate

More about Pacific cod

Closely related to its Atlantic cousin, U.S. Pacific Cod is a cold-water dweller with a characteristic chin barbel (which resembles a goatee), thought to help it sense the ocean floor. It eats a wide variety of other fish and crustaceans and can reach 1.2 meters (4 feet). It is used in Chinese medicine.

Commercial Sources

U.S. Pacific cod are found in the North Pacific Ocean, from the Yellow Sea in East Asia to the Bering Strait, around the Aleutian Islands, and south to California. However, they are rare in the southern end of their range.

U.S. Pacific cod are caught commercially by the United States, Russia, Japan and China. Almost all Pacific cod sold in the U.S. market is caught domestically; small amounts are imported from China and Russia.

Capture Methods

U.S. Pacific cod come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include longlines, handlines, Danish seines, gillnets and traps.

+-Atlantic cod
Improving
Low

More about Atlantic cod

Once super-abundant, the Atlantic cod was an important source of food for North American colonists. This cold-water dweller with its characteristic goatee or chin barbel lives in a variety of habitats, ranging from shoreline to deep ocean shelf. Cod grow up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) in length and can live up to 25 years.

Commercial Sources

Atlantic cod are found in the North Atlantic Ocean. In the eastern Atlantic, they occur from the Barents Sea in northern Europe to the Bay of Biscay off France, and around Iceland. In the western Atlantic, they are distributed from Greenland to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

The main sources of Atlantic cod are Norway, Iceland and the Russian Federation. Atlantic cod sold in the U.S. market are primarily from Iceland, Canada and Norway.

Capture Methods

Atlantic cod come from marine fisheries, not fish farms. They are primarily caught with bottom trawls. Additional types of fishing gear include gillnets, seines, hooks-and-lines, traps and pound nets.

Recommended servings per month

Contaminant Men Women Kids 6-12 Kids 0-5
U.S. Pacific cod (trawl) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4
Atlantic cod Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4+
Alaska cod (longline) Mercury 4+ 4+ 4+ 4
Eco details: 
  • Atlantic and Pacific cod are the two species caught commercially in U.S. waters.
  • The Pacific species (coming primarily from Alaska) is more abundant. 
  • Atlantic cod populations have been heavily fished for decades. It is now caught under an innovative new ‘sector’ management plan. Discards in the New England fishery have dramatically decreased, sector fishermen stayed under their catch limits for all groundfish species, and less gear was deployed compared to previous years.