IGP Icelandic cod
Certified as sustainable in April 2012.
Species: North Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua)
Location: Icelandic Exclusive Economic Zone (200nm) within ICES V / FAO area 27
Fishing methods: Demersal otter trawl, Danish seine, long line, hand line and gill net.
Number of fisheries: 1
More about cod
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is found throughout the temperate and sub-Arctic waters of the North Atlantic from the Gulf of Maine on the east coast of North America, across southern Greenland, Iceland, Barents Sea, Norwegian Sea, Baltic and southwards around the British Isles to the Bay of Biscay. Although it is a single species throughout this distribution, it comprises a multitude of populations that show a varying degree of intermixing. The cod around Iceland are more or less isolated from neighbouring cod stocks by the deep water of the Denmark Strait to the west, the Faroe–Iceland channel to the south-east and the Norwegian Sea in the east. scientifically assessed. In terms of weight of fish landed in Iceland, cod is the third most important species. Cod are found throughout the Icelandic waters, mostly at depths less than 200 m but extending down to c. 500 m in some areas. They spawn throughout this area but the most important spawning grounds are off the south-western coast in late winter. From there, eggs and larvae drift clockwise, north then east with prevailing currents until they complete metamorphosis and settle in nursery areas in the colder waters north-west, north and east of Iceland. As they grow, they move into deeper water gradually joining with the mature population. Across the stock as a whole, 50% of the population reach sexual maturity between 5 and 6 years of age – 5 years in the warmer water south of Iceland but 7 years to the north. In the colder water to the north of Iceland it takes 7 years for 50% of the juvenile to attain sexual maturity but only 5 years in the warmer water to the south.
More about the fishing methods
The Icelandic demersal fishing fleet comprises factory freezer trawlers, fresh-fish trawlers, Danish (Scottish fly) seiners, inshore and offshore longliners, gillnetters (including tangle net), auto-jigger and handliners – plus licensed recreational charter vessels that must have quota to meet their clients’ catches. The fleet employs some of the most sophisticated technology available for navigational and fish detection as well as the development of more effective fishing gear.
All demersal trawlers work as single-boat trawlers, i.e. there is no pair trawling. The majority of vessels land their fish gutted, on ice. The factory freezer trawlers fillet the fish at sea but only the guts are discarded; heads and carcasses are frozen for export, as are the fillets. There is one vessel currently working a semi-pelagic (bottomskimming) rig to assess its suitability for cod fishing. The remainder use more traditional rigging but with a variety of doors, bridles and sweep arrangement, chosen by the skipper.
The Icelandic longline fleet still tends to favour traditional J–hooks rather than circle hooks. The line is shot (5–10 h) and once shot, the vessel immediately returns to the initial shoot position and begins hauling the same line. Thus, any fish caught is taken aboard less than 24 h after fishing commenced.
The Danish seine is a much lighter construction than the trawls favoured by Icelandic skippers and is only used on relatively flat sand or mud seabed without significant obstructions. Minimum mesh size varies between 135 and 155 mm, depending on the area being fished. The gear is shot away and once fully deployed is immediately hauled back to the boat. Icelandic fishermen use this fly-fishing technique thereby eliminating any risk of anchor-related environmental damage.
The directed cod fishery is carried out exclusively with bottom-set gillnets. Cod is by far the dominant species taken by these vessels. The cod gillnet fishery is a highly selective, large-mesh [minimum 5½ inch (sic; 139.7 mm): maximum 8 inch (sic; 203.3 mm)] fishery yielding large fish.
At the time of writing, one demersal trawler rigged with a semi-pelagic (bottom-skimming) trawl is being fished to assess its cod-catching performance and (reduced) fuel consumption.
Handline and auto-jiggers
These are basically the same method but, as the names imply, one is manual and the other automated. Both are characteristically small-boat (<10 m) methods used in coastal and shelf waters.
Small mesh trawlers
The small-mesh’ category includes vessels targeting nephrops andnorthern shrimp (Pandalus borealis). The construction of the trawl net and the associated ground gear are significantly lighter than the trawls typically used when targeting demersal fish species.
Purse seines are used exclusively for the capture of pelagic species, principally herring and
capelin. Cod prey heavily on both species
181,151 tonnes in 2009
The main export markets for Icelandic cod are the UK (16%) and Spain (12%). These two countries have nearly always been among the top markets for cod products from Iceland with other western and southern European markets also of importance. Much of the exports to southern Europe is dried and salted. There is also a large market for dried cod in Nigeria.
Actual eligibility date
1 March 2011