Where does our cod come from?

Perhaps it’s easier first to say where it doesn’t come from.

It does not come from the North Sea nor anywhere “managed” by the EU Common Fisheries Policy. So when we say “the clear, cold waters of the North Atlantic”, this is what we mean!

Photo by Ed Rutherford, June 2012


Secondly, it’s Atlantic, not Pacific cod. Pacific Cod is Gadus Macrocephalus which lives mainly along the continental shelf and upper slope of the North Pacific in the areas bordered by Korea and the western Chukchi Peninsula in the west, and Norton Sound and Oregon in the east. Pacific Cod increasingly is used as an alternative to Atlantic Cod particularly in Ready-Meals.

Fasfa members catch Atlantic Cod, Gadus Morhua.

According to the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, Fisheries and Aquaculture Department] the presence of cod usually depends on prey distribution rather than on temperature. However, whatever the reason, larger fish are found in colder waters in most areas (0-5°C). Scientists now believe that the steady but slight warming of the North Sea during the last century is one reason why cod have moved further north. Fasfa boats fish in the deep, cold water around Iceland, the Faroe Islands and the Barents Sea.

In terms of the tonnage of cod coming into the UK, the biggest change in recent years has been the practice of taking some fish to China (see Cod Map tonnes ) for secondary processing. It’s not expensive to add a container of frozen fish onto a huge freighter already destined for China’s eastern sea-bord, and many very modern processing factories are now based at Qingdao.