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Pacific Cod Research

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Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), also known as grey cod, are moderately fast growing and relatively short-lived fish, with a maximum age of approximately 18 years.Females reach 50% maturity at 4.4 years in the Gulf of Alaska and 4.9 years in the eastern Bering Sea (Stark, 2007).  Total body length at 50% maturity was significantly smaller (503 mm) in the Gulf of Alaska than in the eastern Bering Sea (580 mm).  Similarly, Pacific cod females grow significantly faster in the Bering Sea than in the Gulf of Alaska.  Males reach a smaller maximum length in the Gulf of Alaska than females; in contrast, Bering Sea males reach a similar maximum length as females.  Pacific cod are highly fecund and can produce up to 5.7 million ova each year.

Cod are demersal and concentrate on the shelf edge and upper slope (100-250 m) in the winter and move to shallower waters (<100 m) in the summer. Cod prey on clams, worms, crabs, shrimp, and juvenile fish. In turn, they are eaten by halibut and marine mammals. Pacific cod are taken with trawl, longline, pot, and jig gear. Cod begin to recruit to trawl fisheries at age 3, but are not fully recruited to all gear types until about age 7.

Pacific cod are managed under two Fishery Management Plans: one for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands region and the other for the Gulf of Alaska region. The Fishery Management Plans control the fishery through permits and limited entry, catch quotas, gear restrictions, closed waters, seasons, bycatch limits and rates, and other measures.

During 2013, pollock made up 63.3% of the total groundfish catch off Alaska.  The pollock catch for 2013 was 1,370,130 metric tons (t), up approximately 4.6% from 2012.

The 2013 catch of flatfish, which includes yellowfin sole, rock sole and arrowtooth flounder, was 331,150 t or 15.3% of the total 2013 Alaska groundfish catch, up about 3.2% from 2012.

Pacific cod accounted for 318,870 t or 14.7% of the total 2013 Alaska groundfish catch.  The Pacific cod catch was down about 3.1% from a year earlier.

Other important species (% of total 2013 catch and % change from 2012) are:  Atka mackerel 24,460 t (1.1%, down 50.1%),
sablefish 14,500 t (0.7%, down .8%), and rockfish 59,870 t (2.8%, up 7.9%).

Recent Pacific Cod Publications, Poster Presentations, & Research Activities

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