The cod has an extended, pot-bellied body and a large head. The cod uses the obvious barbel its chin to fi nd food. The cod has a brown speckled colour on the upper side and is light on the underside. The flesh is white. In Norwegian waters we distinguish between two main types of cod: the stationary coastal cod which lives on the bottom of shallow water along the coast, and the migrating Norwegian–Arctic cod which has its maturation area in the Barents Sea and then enters the Norwegian coast as sexually mature cod, better known as skrei.
The North East Arctic stock constitutes the majority of the total Norwegian cod stock. The coastal cod lives in the fjords and all the way out to the continental shelf break. It can have spawning areas which overlap with North East Arctic cod. Other stocks of cod are
found along Iceland, the Faroe Islands, in the Baltic Sea, the North Sea, the Irish Sea, west of Scotland and in the North West Atlantic. In addition, there are local coastal and fjord stocks in Canada and the south coast of Greenland.
Cod are fished year round but have a seasonal halt from January to April because of the skrei fishery. Large portions of the skrei (North East Arctic cod) are fished off the Lofoten Islands and the Vesterålen Islands, where the most important spawning grounds are located. The coastal cod is fished along the entire Norwegian coast. Cod are fished most often with bottom otter trawl, Danish seine, lines, gillnets, hand lines and pots.
Each year the total quota of cod is determined on a scientific basis and as a result of negotiations with other coastal states. The Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries allocates the quotas among fleet groups to those who have a right to participate in the cod fisheries.
The North East Arctic stock, which is the largest cod stock in the world, is considered to be in good condition, and it is managed sustainably. The stocks of coastal cod and cod from the strait of Skagerrak and the North Sea are in poor condition. The North East Arctic cod fishery is environmentally certified by Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and KRAV.
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