Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) is a marine, cold-water fish that is currently being developed as a commercial aquaculture species.
Where they’re farmed…
Atlantic cod are farmed in New Brunswick and Newfoundland & Labrador. Canada’s first farmed cod was harvested from a site in North West Cove - Hermitage Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador in 2003. Subsequent harvests of farmed cod have occurred in Kelly Cove, New Brunswick and Pooles Cove, Newfoundland & Labrador during 2007-2008.
How they’re farmed…
To produce the highest quality farmed cod, the very best adult female fish are selected each year as breeding stock. Cod broodstock are usually maintained in onshore tanks – where each female produces about 450,000 eggs per kg of body weight; these eggs are fertilized and incubated in the temperature-controlled tanks in a seawater hatchery.
Fertilized eggs hatch approximately 14 days after fertilization. Upon hatching, the cod larvae are transferred to the ‘larval’ tanks. The newly hatched larvae are only 3.3- 4.5 mm in length – and are unrecognizable as ‘fish’. During their first ~3-4 days of life, the larvae receive nourishment from their yolk-sac. As the yolk sac is depleted, cod farmers begin to feed the larvae a variety of small planktonic animals. This diet of plankton is gradually replaced with a high quality pelleted feed design specifically for cod larvae.
After approximately 35-40 days, the cod larvae undergo a metamorphosis during which they attain all of their fins - become recognizable as fish. The young cod are kept in circular tanks at the hatchery until they reach ~10-20 grams or 10-20 cm in length. The hatchery phase generally takes 6 months.
Upon reaching this size, most juveniles are transported via transport tanks on large trucks and barges to sea cage sites in the ocean. To reach a targeted market size of 3-5 kg, it will 24-36 months of on-growing in the sea cages where they are cared for and fed on a daily basis.
What they eat…
Cod are fed pelleted feeds containing high quality ingredients such as fish oils, meals, vitamins and minerals that ensure an excellent feeding response and good growth. During the on-growing phase, cod require only 1kg of feed for every kg of weight gained.
Why they’re environmentally sustainable…
All approvals for cod farms in Canada are subject to an intensive environmental review according to both federal and provincial legislation, including the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA). Cod farms can only be sited in areas where water currents provide optimal conditions for fish health and environmental sustainability.
Did you know…
After more than a decade of intensive conservation measures, Atlantic Canada’s wild cod stocks remain at less than 2% of their historical levels and show little sign of recovery. As a result, cod processing plants remain closed, thousands of people are unemployed and entire communities have been left without an economic base.
Cod farming has the potential stimulate an economic revitalization of these communities. Canadian aquaculturists are world leaders in the development of innovative cod farming technologies. With made-in-Canada technology and expertise and an ideal marine environment, Canada could produce128,000 tonnes of cod – with a value of more than $545 million - by 2020.
North Atlantic Aquaculture Council: northatlanticaquaculture.com
Atlantic Cod Genomics and Broodstock Development:www.codgene.ca
Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland: www.mun.ca/osc/Home/
Aquaculture Association of Canada: www.aquacultureassociation.ca