Canadian Atlantic Cod

Canadian Atlantic Cod or Gadus morhua , which is cold water fish, which weighs 2 to 3 kg in the wild [6] . Atlantic Cod was originally found in the Atlantic Ocean , along the borders of both Canada and England and all the way down to the southern United States . Heavy fishing in these areas, in the late 1800s and early 1900s to a massive decline in population cod. [7] Today, they are grown in onshore temperature controlled, seawater tanks as eggs and eventually taken to sea cages when more developed. [2] The majority of these artificial environments found in Canada, are located in British Columbia ,New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. It takes about 6 months for the fish to be followed by a 2 to 3-year period for them to reach their maximum selling size, therefore taking an average of 3 years for a fish to reach market which is 3 to 5 kg. [2] According to Peaches and Oceans Canada (2014) in 2013 1 kg of Cod was being sold for $ 7.12 fish. [4] Overall, Atlantic Cod are a relatively recent farmed fish, however are gaining popularity due to price, nutrition and feed to growth ratio.

Raising Atlantic Cod

In our modern society almost all fish, including Atlantic Cod, are now produced through aquaculture . Aquaculture is defined as “the rearing (raising) of aquatic animals or the cultivation of aquatic plants for food”. The raising of Atlantic Cod starts with the best stock breed. [2]These fish are selected from previously grown market fish, located in off shore sea cages. They are selected based on weight; typically the heavier the fish the more eggs it can produce. The female fish is produced on the shore and supplies 450,000 eggs per kg of body weight. After separating the females, the eggs are incubated in a temperature controlled for 14 days until hatching. The baby cod or ‘larvae’ are then transferred to larval tanks. During this stage the larvae are feed yolk from a yolk sack for 3 to 4 days. After this period, the larvae have grown large enough, they are fed tiny plank-tonic animals (ground plankton). Plank-tonic animals, the larvae should have undergone metamorphosis and are now considered fish. They are removed from the larval tanks and put into circulation on an onshore facility. They remain in this stage for 6 months or until they are 10 to 20 grams or centimeters in length.[2] After they have reached this point, they have been inserted into the fish to monitor growth and collect information. [8] Finally the fish are taken to sea cage sites via industrial trucks and barges. [2] In the sea cages the cod will grow until they reach 24 to 36 months. During this period, we are ready to go and have our sites cleaned up on a daily basis to maintain the healthiest standards. [2]

Facilities and equipment

In commercial aquaculture there are two main areas of farming: the onshore facility and the offshore sea cages. In the onshore facility there is a large number of storage tanks in the water. These livestock storage include: the incubators (where eggs are fertilized and allowed to hatch), larval tanks (where the larvae is grown), the circular tanks (where the metamorphosis occurs), finally storage tanks where the fish can be stored as they are transported from truck, to boat, to sea site. [2]Before the fish are taken to sea cage sites, some companies insert microchips into the fish to monitor population and patterns in the fish to improve the breeding for future generations. [8] The microchips are released once fish are ready for market. After being transported to the ocean via private company or government ships, the fish are gently poured into a sea cage. [1] There are many different types of sea cages depending on the location and style of aquaculture. Some common sea containers include: aqua pod (completely sealed bubble), open water (with the hope that the fish will naturally return), sea cages (simple netting tied to the ocean floor), and raceways (often in rivers or ponds). [8]Some facilities (non-coastal regions) contain land where they are in an indoor water circulated facility. The most common of these is the sea cages, due to its inexpensive and ability to hold lots of fish. Finally, any of these sites must be present at the bottom of the water facility to absorb fish feces and to circulate the water. [8] This prevents any chance of disease and improves water quality.


In both onshore and offshore facilities, Cod require daily maintenance. In the onshore facility an estimated team of 4 or 5 laborers are required for daily tasks, which include: feeding planktonical animals, regulating tank temperatures, monitoring health of fish, and general maintenance to water facilities. [2] One must also consider labor for transport, which would include a truck driver, a machine operator (forklift / crane for moving fish) and a team operating a sea barge (is located far enough off shore). Transport and sea cage crew would be an estimated 10 people depending on the size of the operation.


As in the past, the development of the field is of great importance in the field of development, and finally in the field of plankton. The pellets fed to Atlantic Cod are mostly grain based, which are made of fish oil, bone meal, vitamins and minerals. [2] Atlantic Cod has a superb 1 kg of feed to 1 kg of weight gain ratio. [8] In other countries, this ratio is even more efficient, because Cod fish are actually more important than others. Atlantic Cod’s carnivorous diet to a more herbivorous one; as already done in chickens[8] This would be cheaper for the future.

Nutritional information

Atlantic cod fish offers a bounty of nutrients including a surplus amount of complete proteins, omega-3-fatty acids , iron and B vitamins. [2] A serving or 98g of Atlantic Cod offers us 40% of our daily protein intake, while at the same time containing low sodium levels [5] Atlantic Cod when compared to other saturated fat, while still holding a high protein level. In comparison, 98g of chicken provides with 18g of protein (under 40%). [9]

Benefits to Canada

Atlantic Cod gives a direct 8000 full-time jobs in Canada. [2] More jobs are growing in demand for fish. In 1986 Canadian Aquaculture production was valued at 35 million, by 2006 it was valued at 912 million and this pace is still growing as illustrated in Figure 1. The jobs being created in rural, Aboriginal or small coastal cities. Just one example of this is in BC, Kitasoo First Nation community, where 80 percent of the population is affected. Also an analysis by Indian and Northern Affairs determined that 61 First Nations could support salmon farms, could grow to farms, and would have farmed. [2]


Atlantic Cod in the wild, strict laws were made to prevent fishing of any sort. This led to aquaculture. However, the fishing industry in Canada is severely limited and regulated. 73 pieces of federal and provincial legislation regulates what is exactly allowed. [2] Any new aquaculture is not allowed in Ontario. [8] Only coastal areas like British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador or New Brunswick are free to fish under license. [8]

Environmental sustainability

Aquaculture (fish farming) is used for all Atlantic Cod production, so that the environment and wild fish species are essentially unaffected. Fish is sold without further processing, so little to none of the animal is wasted. The only environmental concern of Atlantic Cod is excess nutrients produced in their feces. If left un-filtered in natural environments, these feces could lead to denitrification. However, in almost all commercial fish farms, feces are used (via vacuum) and liquid fertilizer, to be used for farm activities. Other factors are: factories are not required for further processing and feed sources. [4]The Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), to prevent harm from ocean habitats. [2] Organic Atlantic Cod is also available as an alternative product. These fish are prohibited from antibiotics, herbicides, GMOs, parasiticides and practices that minimize negative effects on the environment. [2]

Cooke Aquaculture

Cooke Aquaculture is an independent family-owned aquaculture company based in Blacks Harbor, New Brunswick. [3] They employ 1500 people in Atlantic Canada and generate more than $ 270 million in annual sales. [3]

Alternative products

Aquaculture in Canada has a variety of products. Salmon and mussels followed by trout. Although these products are popular in North America, they would be too expensive in a developing country. An affordable alternative could be Canadian Arctic Char, or Canadian Farmed Talapia. Atlantic Cod does to Canada.


1. Canadas Economic Action Plan. (2012). Near Shore Fisheries Research Vessels.

2. Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance. (2012). Canadian farmed Atlantic Cod. Aquaculture in Canada, several pages under subheadings (organic standard, economic benefits, health and nutrition).

3. Cooke Aquaculture. (2014). Cooke aquaculture.

4. Fisheries and Oceans Canada. (2014). Trade by Species and Species, 2013. Canadian Trade Exports, table / figure.

5. Food and Agriculture Organization. (1989). Yield and nutritional value of the commercially more important fish species.

6. Food and Agriculture Organization. (2014). Cultured Aquatic Species Information Program.

7. Hutchings JA (2011) Life history consequences of overexploitation to population recovery in Northwest Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua).

8. Robinson, A, (2014) Personal Communication by Reading (AGR1110, University of Guelph). Date: November 5, 2014. T. Animal Science Professor.

9. Self Nutrition Data. (2014). Fact Fish Nutrition, cod, Pacific, raw.

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