Cod, common name for FISHES
of class Actinopterygii, order Gadiformes, family Gadidae. This family contains about 30 species of mostly bottom-living fishes found in cool seas. In Canada, 9 species occur in Atlantic waters, 3 in Pacific and 5 in Arctic. The family includes many important food fishes, eg, haddock (genus Melanogrammus
), pollock (Pollachius
), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus
) and tomcods (Microgadus
). Fishes recently removed from the family Gadidae include cusk, burbot, rocklings and lings (now family Lotidae) and hakes (now family Phycidae).
Cods have elongate bodies, large heads with strong mouths and 3 dorsal and 2 anal fins (with the exception of Raniceps raninus
of the eastern North Atlantic with single, long dorsal and anal fins). Most species have a single, fleshy barbel (hairlike projection near the tip of the lower jaw). The most important Canadian cod, the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua
), is heavy bodied, with a large head and an almost square caudal (tail) fin. Scales are small and smooth. The lateral line is pale. It may weigh up to 90 kg but usually averages 3-4 kg. Colour varies from grey or silvery green to brown or red, depending on bottom type and locality. The head and body are covered with many brown to reddish spots. Atlantic cod occurs on both sides of the North Atlantic. Off the North American coast, it ranges from Cape Hatteras to southern Baffin Island, but its greatest abundance historically has been off Newfoundland and Labrador. The closely related Pacific cod ranges from central California waters to the Bering Sea.
Spawning usually occurs during cool months, but exact time depends on water temperature and location of spawning grounds. On the GRAND BANKS
(specifically, the Grand Bank proper), spawning occurs Apr-Aug, and on Nantucket Shoals, Oct-Feb. Atlantic cod are prolific: a 100 cm long female may produce about 5 million buoyant eggs. Hatching time depends on water temperature, and may take several weeks. Young cod grow at different rates in different areas: the colder the temperature, the slower the rate of growth. Young cod eat PLANKTON
and, as they mature, bottom creatures, but adults are voracious and feed mainly on other fishes (eg, capelin, herring), crustaceans and squids.
Significance of Fishery
Atlantic cod, one of the world's leading food fishes, has been fished on the Grand Banks for centuries. Because of a number of factors, including overfishing and adverse ocean conditions, in 1992 the federal government closed part of the fishery and reduced quotas in other parts within Canada's 200 nautical mile (371 km) zone. Despite closures and strict management the fishery has yet to recover.
See also FISHERIES.
(Corel Professional Photos)
W.B. SCOTT and L. VAN GUELPEN
B.W. Coad and J.D. Reist, Annotated List of the Arctic Marine Fishes of Canada (2004); W.B. Scott and M.G. Scott, Atlantic Fishes of Canada (1988).
Links to Other Sites
History of the Northern Cod Fishery
Learn about the history of the Newfoundland cod fishery and more at this Library and Archives Canada website.
Fished Out: The Rise and Fall of the Cod Fishery
Explore the tenuous history of Canada's Cod Fishery at this multimedia CBC website.
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
This site offers an overview of the historic factors that contributed to the catastrophic decimation of the North West Atlantic fisheries. From the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization.
Aquaculture Atlas of Canada
Find out about Canada’s growing aquaculture industry in all ten provinces and in the Yukon.
Features profiles of selected species.
North Atlantic Register of Marine Species
The NARMS website describes the species biodiversity of the northern North Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Black Sea.
450 Years of Making Fish
This online exhibit features a wide variety of archival images, texts, video and audio clips, and links that tell the story of the salt-fish processing industry. Also features a glossary of key terms. From the Newfoundland and Labrador website "The Rooms."
Fishes of Canada's National Capital Region
A comprehensive guide to fishes found in the National Capital Region of Canada. Scroll down the list of scientific and English names and click on the appropriate link for detailed biological information including species’ ranges across Canada and illustrations. Also, check out the extensive online glossary of terms related to fish and other vertebrates. This site was developed by Brian W. Coad, an ichthyologist at the Canadian Museum of Nature in Ottawa.
The North Atlantic Oscillation
An academic paper about the North Atlantic Oscillation, described as the "large-scale seesaw behaviour in sea-level atmospheric pressure fields," and its influence on ocean climate and marine biodiversity. From the website for Integrated Science Data Management, Fisheries and Oceans Canada.