Cod is one of Norway’ best known salt-water fish. A distinction is made in Norwegian waters between North East Arctic cod, coastal cod and North-Sea cod. Cod is a predatory fish that lives on the seabed, but in the Barents Sea, it can also spend parts of the year in the pelagic zones. Young fish (0–2 years) eat animal plankton, while fish and benthic organisms are the most important food for older cod. The most important spawning areas for North East Arctic cod are off the coast of Lofoten/Vesterålen. Cod can reach a length of up to 1.5 metres and a weight of 40 kg. Its life span is up to 40 years.
The fishing season is all year, but it reaches its peak from January to April. Cod is sold fresh or frozen, as steaks, whole fish or in fillets. Lightly salted and smoked cod, salted and dried cod, and dried cod are also sold.
Cod is a good source of iodine, but the content varies a lot from fish to fish. A dinner of cod also meets the daily requirement for marine omega-3, according to European food authorities.
Content of undesirable substances
Cod fillets have generally a low level of undesirable substances and are safe to eat.
In cod and other lean fish, organic environmental toxins mainly accumulate in the liver. In the Barents Sea, where most of the commercial fishing takes place, the levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs in cod liver are below the maximum level. There is a greater risk of the maximum level being exceeded in cod from the North Sea and in coastal cod.
There is currently a dietary recommendation not to eat liver from coastal self-caught fish.
From 2009 to 2011, NIFES took 2,200 samples of cod from 80 positions during a thorough an extensive baseline study.
Cod is monitored annually and samples are taken from four positions in the Barents Sea, two in the Norwegian Sea and four in the North Sea.