(Hook-and-line from U.S. Gulf of Maine)
Atlantic cod has suffered from decades of overfishing, resulting in massive population declines. In addition, many cod are caught with trawls, which cause habitat damage. U.S. hook-and-line caught cod is a "Good Alternative," but consumers should "Avoid" U.S. and Canadian trawl-caught Atlantic cod. Hook-and-line caught cod from Iceland and the Northeast Arctic is a "Best Choice," while Icelandic and Northeastern Arctic cod using other catch methods is considered a "Good Alternative."
Atlantic cod is a deep-water fish, living at 1,300 feet or more on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Cod is one of several groundfish species, meaning that they live on the seafloor.
For centuries, north Atlantic cod was one of the world's largest and most reliable fisheries. However, decades of overfishing have resulted in dramatic population declines. Although many cod stocks in the Atlantic are severely depleted and still experience overfishing, cod are more abundant in Iceland and the northeast Arctic and are being fished sustainably.
Fishermen often catch cod with bottom trawl gear, which involves dragging large nets across the seafloor. Trawling damages marine habitats and produces bycatch. However, a portion of the Icelandic and northeast Arctic fisheries uses hook-and-line gear, which results in low levels of bycatch and habitat damage.
When purchasing U.S. Atlantic cod, "Avoid" trawl-caught and look for hook-and-line caught instead, a "Good Alternative."