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Harvest Method

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Pacific cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

California, Oregon, Washington

Overall Rating

3.1 / 5

Summary

Pacific cod are part of the US West Coast commercial non-hake groundfish fishery operating off the coast of California, Oregon and Washington. Pacific cod caught in the US are consumed domestically.

Pacific cod have life history characteristics that make them vulnerable to fishing pressure. Full assessments have not been performed of the population but overfishing is not thought to be occurring. Management is effective and comprises harvest control rules, and incorporation of uncertainty when determining catch limits.

Pacific cod are caught incidentally as part of a mixed groundfish fishery. Several of these groundfish are rockfish whose populations are overfished, with a low resilience against fishing pressure. Bottom trawls have the potential to cause habitat damage as they are dragged across the ocean floor. Regulations exist to protect sensitive habitats such as area closures, marine protected areas, and gear restrictions, but the ecosystem impacts of the fishery are not adequately studied.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Pacific cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

British Columbia

Overall Rating

2.9 / 5

Summary

Pacific cod are caught are caught as part of a multi-species groundfish fishery in British Columbia. Out of the 68 species/gear combinations, 16 were found to be sustainable. In 2012, BC landed $104.2 million worth of non-hake groundfish. Pacific halibut, sablefish and rockfish account for 83% of the value of the landings. A large proportion of the groundfish are exported to countries including the US, Japan, the UK and Russia.

According to recent stock assessment updates, the population health and fishing mortality of many BC groundfish is healthy (although some BC groundfish are still lacking up-to-date stock assessments). There are some uncertainties associated with the interpretation of the data. Management of BC groundfish is moderately effective as management measures such as reference points and harvest control rules exist. However these measures are not applied to all stocks, and are not always supported by scientific research. The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada (COSEWIC) has identified several groundfish of threatened status, although recovery of these species is challenging given limited data. Fisheries officers are highly effective in enforcing management regulations such as total allowable catch. Vessels are monitored with 100% at-sea, 100% dockside and 100% observer coverage.

Non-targeted species caught in the BC Groundfish fishery include: bocaccio rockfish, green sturgeon, redstripe rockfish, soupfin shark, sharpchin rockfish, splitnose rockfish, spotted ratfish, sixgill shark, steller sea lion, Pacific halibut, giant grenadier, Pacific grenadier and flathead sole. Amongst these species include those whose stock status is of concern, whose inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure is high, or whose fishing mortality rates are high.

Bottom trawls have the potential to cause large amounts of habitat damage due to the fact that they drag across the ocean floor. Many of the species targeted by the BC groundfish fishery are found in areas of hard substrate which are more susceptible to damage than areas of soft substrate. In order to mitigate habitat damage, a number of regulations including spatial regulations are in place. For example, no commercial fishing activities are allowed in Rockfish Conservation Areas. Bottom trawls are prohibited in areas where sponge reefs exist. In 2012, additional measures were imposed in order to protect corals and sponges. Recently, trawl vessels have been equipped with midwater trawls. Midwater trawls cause minimal habitat damage as they do not usually make contact with the ocean floor.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Pacific cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method

Wild

Bottom longline, Bottom trawl, Jig, Trap

Location

Alaska

Overall Rating

3.6 - 4.5 / 5

Summary

Groundfish in Alaska are caught as part of a multi-species fishery. Out of the 43 species/gear combinations, only 1 was found to be unsustainable: shortspine thornyhead caught by bottom trawl. This species is covered in a separate report. Alaskan groundfish are exported worldwide. Much information is available on stock status, and data indicates that populations are healthy.

Management of a multi-species fishery can be challenging. However in this case, management is excellent as regular stock-assessments are performed with up-to-date assessments available, and regulations exist regarding biological reference points, harvest control rules, and incorporation of uncertainty when determining catch limits.

Some non-targeted species caught in the Alaskan groundfish fishery include: steller sea lions, giant grenadiers, killer whales, starry flounders, tanner crabs, snow crabs, Pacific sleeper sharks, longnose skates, spiny dogfish, northern fulmar, atka mackerel, sharpchin rockfish, harlequin rockfish, black-footed albatross, laysan albatross, and Pacific halibut. Amongst these species include those whose stock status is of concern, whose inherent vulnerability to fishing pressure is high, or whose fishing mortality rates are high.

Bottom trawls have the potential to cause large amounts of habitat damage due to the fact that they drag across the ocean floor. Although longlines, pots, and jigs are immobile gear types, they nevertheless make contact with the ocean floor and have the potential to cause damage. In order to mitigate these impacts, a number of regulations including spatial restrictions are in place.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Handline

Location

US: Georges Bank

Overall Rating

3.0 / 5

Summary

Atlantic cod have been targeted for 400 years and have a history of being overexploited due to advances in industrial fishing. After the fishery collapsed, management measures controlling bycatch and limiting quotas were introduced. Landings since 2003 have been at a historic low for cod.

The handline fishery represents only 1.9% of the US Atlantic cod landings in the New England fishery, most of which is likely consumed domestically. Atlantic cod have life history characteristics that make it vulnerable to fishing pressure. The abundance of Georges Bank cod is currently not healthy and is in an overfished state, with overfishing occurring at a level too high to sustain population levels.

Atlantic cod are managed by the NEFMC as part of the groundfish fishery. Fishery data as well as fishery independent data in the form of stock assessments are regularly collected. Scientific advice is generally followed when establishing regulations and quotas, although this is not always the case. Handlines cause little bycatch, most of which is undersized cod. They also cause minimal amounts of damage to the ecosystem. New management measures are aiming to better protect the habitat through ecosystem-based management, and these are targeted to take place in 5 years.

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Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Faroe Island North East Arctic cod & Saithe

Variety

Arctic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Norwegian and Russian EEZ and International waters

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Faroe Island North East Arctic cod & Saithe

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Russian Federation Barents sea cod and haddock

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Norwegian EEZ and Svalbard FPZ

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Russian Federation Barents sea cod and haddock

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - ISF Iceland cod

Variety

Atlantic cod (North)

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Danish seine, Gillnet, Handline, Longline, Midwater trawl

Location

Icelandic EEZ

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
ISF Iceland cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Barents Sea cod, haddock and saithe

Variety

Arctic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Barents Sea - Within Norwegian and Russiean EEZ and International Waters

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Barents Sea cod, haddock and saithe

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Pacific Cod - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Variety

Pacific cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method

Wild

Bottom longline, Jig, Trap, Trawl

Location

Alaska - Bearing Sea and Aleutian Islands

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Pacific Cod - Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Gereenland cod, haddock and saithe trawl

Variety

North East Arctic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

ICES Areas I and II: within Norwegian and Russian EEZ and International waters

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Gereenland cod, haddock and saithe trawl

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Ocean Wise Recommended

Ocean Wise

Eco-Certification:

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) - Alaska Pacific Cod - Gulf of Alaska

Variety

Pacific cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method

Wild

Bottom longline, Jig, Trap, Trawl

Location

Alaska - Gulf of Alaska

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Alaska Pacific Cod - Gulf of Alaska

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom longline, Bottom trawl, Handline

Location

US: Gulf of Maine

Overall Rating

1.9 - 2.1 / 5

Summary

Atlantic cod have been targeted for 400 years and have a history of being overexploited due to advances in industrial fishing. After the fishery collapsed, management measures controlling bycatch and limiting quotas were introduced. Landings since 2003 have been at a historic low for cod.

Atlantic cod have life history characteristics that make it vulnerable to fishing pressure. The abundance of Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine cod is currently not healthy and is in an overfished state, with overfishing occurring at a level too high to sustain population levels. Atlantic cod are managed by the NEFMC as part of the groundfish fishery. Fishery data as well as fishery independent data in the form of stock assessments are regularly collected. Scientific advice is generally followed when establishing regulations and quotas, although this is not always the case.

Impact on other species differs according to the gear used. Bottom trawls and bottom gillnets are nonspecific gear types, which catch a variety of bycatch. Of most concern is the overfished yellowtail flounder caught by bottom trawl, and the harbour porpoise caught by bottom gillnets which is a species of concern. Although more selective than bottom trawls and gillnets, bottom longlines cause the bycatch of skates which are a species of concern. Handlines cause little bycatch, most of which is undersized cod. Bottom trawls have the potential to cause a moderate amount of habitat damage, whereas bottom longlines and bottom gillnets cause low amounts of damage. Handlines cause minimal habitat damage. Permanent area closures protect the most sensitive habitats from bottom trawls, although this level of protection is minimal. New management measures are aiming to better protect the habitat through ecosystem-based management, and these are targeted to take place in 5 years.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom gillnet, Bottom longline, Bottom trawl

Location

Canada

Overall Rating

1.7 - 1.92 / 5

Summary

Atlantic cod have a history of being severely overfished in Canada, especially with the introduction of improved fishing methods. In the early 1990’s the stock collapsed, leading to a moratorium in 1992. Stocks have not recovered, and the species is classified as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). This report covers management areas 3Ps and 3Pn4RS which contribute the majority of the Atlantic cod on the market. The combined total allowable catch of these two management areas in 2011 was 14,725mt.

Atlantic cod have life history characteristics that make them highly vulnerable to fishing pressure. The stock status of the Atlantic cod in Canada is of very high concern. The overall abundance of Atlantic cod remains depressed and is designated as an endangered species by COSEWIC. It is thought that current fishing quotas are too high for the stock to recover.

As an endangered species under COSEWIC with much cultural and economic value, many regulations exist to manage the stocks as part of the Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMP). The Department of Fisheries and Oceans is responsible for managing stocks based on a precautionary approach. Despite dramatic measures taken to rebuild the stocks after the population crash of the 1990’s, there are concerns that fishing pressure is too high given the fact that stocks have not recovered.

Otter trawls, bottom longlines and bottom gillnets are non-selective methods of fishing which cause large amounts of bycatch. Bycatch includes a variety of species of concern such as harbour porpoises, North Atlantic right whales, leatherback turtles, skates, and wolfish amongst others. Otter trawls also have the potential to cause significant damage to the habitat. Since cod and pollock are found in areas with substrates of gravel, rock, or sand, gear damage is limited. Bottom gillnets and bottom longlines cause low levels of damage, although they can become snagged on corals causing breakage. It is possible that the effects of bottom gear in the cod and pollock fisheries are underestimated.

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Variety

Pacific cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method

Wild

Bottom gillnet, Bottom longline, Bottom trawl, Danish seine, Trap net

Location

Japan

Overall Rating

0 - 2.4 / 5

Summary

The commercial Pacific cod fishery began in Japan around 100 years ago. Overfishing occurred in the mid-1970’s and in 2011, only 45,000 tonnes were landed. Imports of Japanese Pacific cod into the US are negligible at only 2,330 kg compared to the 70 million kg that the US consumes annually. Japan has one of the highest per capita seafood consumption rates in the world and imports significantly more seafood into the country than it exports. Thus, the majority of the Pacific cod caught in Japan is likely consumed within the country.

Pacific cod have life history characteristics that make them moderately resilient against fishing pressure. Annual stock assessments are carried out by the Fisheries Research Agency (FRA). Current population status is overfished, and overfishing is still occurring in all 3 management regions of Japan.

No catch limits exist to prevent further overfishing of the species. Regulations such as the prohibition of bottom trawling and boat seining in shallow areas to mitigate habitat effects on the seafloor exist. Some restrictions surrounding the use of gillnets in Pacific cod nursing grounds exist. The effectiveness of these measures is uncertain. As an overexploited species, the fishery lacks general management.

Many of the fishing methods used in the Pacific cod fishery in Japan are unselective. Data on bycatch is not collected, and there are no management measures exist to reduce bycatch levels. Seines have the potential to affect corals and other bottom-dwelling organisms, gillnets can entangle marine mammals, longlines can cause the drowning of seabirds, and trawl nets affect seabirds and sharks. Trap nets alone cause little bycatch but the impact of the other fishing methods is a serious concern. Information is lacking on the habitat and ecosystem impacts of the Pacific cod fishery. However, bans on bottom trawling and restricted use of Danish seines and gillnets helps to mitigate habitat damage.

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Variety

Pacific cod

Gadus macrocephalus

Method

Wild

Bottom longline, Bottom trawl, Danish seine

Location

Russia

Overall Rating

0.0 / 5

Summary

Pacific cod have historically comprised the largest proportion of the groundfish catches in Russia. Landings increased in the 1980’s and peaked around 1985 at 188,000 tonnes. Exports from Russia to North America are limited due to a recently implemented 5% export tariff, and most Russian Pacific cod are consumed within Russia or exported to East Asia.

Pacific cod have life history characteristics that make them moderately resilient against fishing pressure. Much information is lacking on the fishery, although stock abundance is not thought to be critically low according to the most recent stock assessment. Catches have not exceeded set quotas from 2004-2012.

The Russian Pacific cod are managed by the Federal Fisheries Agency. Management regulates catch levels, fishing seasons, allowable gear and size restrictions. Level of bycatch mitigation is unknown. Despite the complex management structure, establishment of rules is not transparent, and there is a severe lack of data on the fishery.

Many of the fishing methods used in the Pacific cod fishery in Russia are unselective. Data on bycatch is not collected, and there are no management measures exist to reduce bycatch levels. Seines have the potential to affect corals and other bottom-dwelling organisms, gillnets can entangle marine mammals, longlines can cause the drowning of seabirds, and trawl nets affect seabirds and sharks. Trap nets alone cause little bycatch but the impact of the other fishing methods is a serious concern.

Information is lacking on the habitat and ecosystem impacts of the Pacific cod fishery. Bottom trawling has the most potential to cause destruction to the habitat by damaging sensitive substrate.

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Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom gillnet, Bottom longline, Bottom trawl

Location

US: Georges Bank

Overall Rating

1.9 - 2.1 / 5

Summary

Atlantic cod have been targeted for 400 years and have a history of being overexploited due to advances in industrial fishing. After the fishery collapsed, management measures controlling bycatch and limiting quotas were introduced. Landings since 2003 have been at a historic low for cod.

Atlantic cod have life history characteristics that make it vulnerable to fishing pressure. The abundance of Georges Bank and Gulf of Maine cod is currently not healthy and is in an overfished state, with overfishing occurring at a level too high to sustain population levels. Atlantic cod are managed by the NEFMC as part of the groundfish fishery. Fishery data as well as fishery independent data in the form of stock assessments are regularly collected. Scientific advice is generally followed when establishing regulations and quotas, although this is not always the case.

Impact on other species differs according to the gear used. Bottom trawls and bottom gillnets are nonspecific gear types, which catch a variety of bycatch. Of most concern is the overfished yellowtail flounder caught by bottom trawl, and the harbour porpoise caught by bottom gillnets which is a species of concern. Although more selective than bottom trawls and gillnets, bottom longlines cause the bycatch of skates which are a species of concern. Handlines cause little bycatch, most of which is undersized cod. Bottom trawls have the potential to cause a moderate amount of habitat damage, whereas bottom longlines and bottom gillnets cause low amounts of damage. Handlines cause minimal habitat damage. Permanent area closures protect the most sensitive habitats from bottom trawls, although this level of protection is minimal. New management measures are aiming to better protect the habitat through ecosystem-based management, and these are targeted to take place in 5 years.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Arctic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

North East Arctic - ICES Sub Areas I and II

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
UK Fisheries/DFFU/Doggerbank Northeast Arctic cod, haddock and saithe

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Arctic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

North East Arctic - ICES Sub Areas I and II

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Comapêche and Euronor cod and haddock

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Danish seine, Set net, Various

Location

North Sea (ICES area IV) and Divisions IIIa,b,c,d.

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
DFPO Denmark North Sea & Skagerrak cod & saithe

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Longline, Trap

Location

ICES areas 25-31 (Eastern Baltic Sea)

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Fiskbranschens Sweden Eastern Baltic cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom gillnet, Bottom trawl, Longline, Midwater trawl

Location

Poland - FAO 27, ECES 25-32

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Poland Eastern Baltic cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Longline

Location

ICES sub division 25-32

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
DFPO Denmark Eastern Baltic cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Arctic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Danish seine, Gillnet, Handline, Longline, Trawl

Location

Norway - ICES subareas I and II

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Norway North East Arctic cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Gillnet, Handline, Longline, Various

Location

North-West Atlantic, FAO 21, Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organisation (NAFO) Subdivision 3Ps

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Canada/Newfoundland 3PS cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

European cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl, Midwater trawl, Seine

Location

Eastern Baltic Sea

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Germany Eastern Baltic cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Barents and Norwegian Seas

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Arkhangelsk Trawl Fleet Barents Sea cod & haddock

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Bottom trawl

Location

Arctic Ocean-Barents Sea, ICES subareas I & II

Eco-Certification

Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
AGARBA Spain Barents Sea cod

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods

Under Review

Under Review

Variety

Atlantic cod

Gadus morhua

Method

Wild

Handline

Location

Canada

Overall Rating

N/A /

Summary

Ocean Wise recommends some Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries, but not all. Learn more about how the MSC certification was bench-marked to Ocean Wise.

Learn more about harvest methods