Atlantic Cod (Laurentian North population)

Gadus morhua

SARA Status
No Status
NS
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

SARA Status

  • No Status NS
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX
COSEWIC Status
Not at Risk
NR
Special Concern
SC
Threatened
TH
Endangered
EN
Extirpated
EX

COSEWIC Status

  • Not at Risk NR
  • Special Concern SC
  • Threatened TH
  • Endangered EN
  • Extirpated EX

Description

Atlantic Cod is a type of groundfish that is brown to green in colour, with spots on its back and a very distinct lateral line. It is also recognized by its single chin barbel. When it is sexually mature (between 3 and 7 years old), Atlantic Cod is 45 to 55 cm long.

Each female can produce several millions eggs in the spring, during spawning. However, only one egg per million will complete the life cycle and become a mature cod.

Habitat

Atlantic Cod feed on a wide variety of fish and shellfish, including capelin, herring, flounder, mussels and crab. Juveniles prefer habitats such as coastal grass beds, which protect them against predators, whereas adults do not show any preferences for habitat or depth.

The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) divided Atlantic Cod in the Northwest Atlantic into four populations: Southern, Laurentian South, Laurentian North and Newfoundland and Labrador. It was determined that these populations were distinct from one another due to differences in their genetics, ecology and life cycle. The Laurentian North population extends from the St. Pierre Bank, south of Newfoundland, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence north of the Laurentian Channel.

Threats

Fishing, directed and bycatch, has historically been one of the primary threats to Atlantic Cod, and remains one of the primary threats for the Laurentian North population. Elevated natural mortality caused by predation and unfavorable environmental conditions, is considered to be a significant threat. The Laurentian North population of Atlantic Cod has declined between 76% and 89% over the last three generations (about 30 years).

Further Information

The Laurentian North population of Atlantic Cod has been designated as endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. Public consultations regarding the addition of this population to the List of Wildlife Species at Risk were held from November 1, 2013 to May 31, 2014. The Governor-in-Council's listing recommendation will published in the Canada Gazette Part I (Government of Canada newspaper where laws and regulations are published).

Visit the Species at Risk (SARA) Public Registry.

Atlantic Cod (Laurentian North population)

Illustration of a cod

Illustration: DFO

Scientific name: Gadus morhua
SARA Status: No Status
COSEWIC Status: Endangered
Region: Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador

Atlantic Cod, Laurentian North population.

This map shows the location of the Laurentian north population of Atlantic Cod. This population extends from the St. Pierre Bank, south of Newfoundland, to the Gulf of St. Lawrence north of the Laurentian Channel.

Did You Know?

Atlantic Cod, fished in Canadian waters for more than 500 years, has been an economic mainstay for many Atlantic communities.

Juvenile Atlantic Cod

Photo credit: Blaise Barrette

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