Pacific cod
Temporal range: Pleistocene –recent
Gadus macrocephalus.png
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Actinopterygii
Order: Gadiformes
Family: Gadidae
Genus: Gadus
G. macrocephalus
Binomial name
Gadus macrocephalus
Tilesius, 1810

The Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus) is a species of ray-finned fish in the family Gadidae. It is a bottom-dwelling fish found in the northern Pacific Ocean, mainly on the continental shelf and upper slopes, to depths of about 900 m (3,000 ft). It can grow to a length of a meter or so and is found in large schools. It is an important commercial food species and is also known as gray cod or grey cod, and grayfish or greyfish. Fishing for this species is regulated with quotas being allotted for hook and line fishing, pots, and bottom trawls. Fossils have been found in Canada near a Steller Sea lion fossil dating to the Pleistocene.


It has three separate dorsal fins, and the catfish-like whiskers on its lower jaw. In appearance, it is similar to the Atlantic cod. A bottom dweller, it is found mainly along the continental shelf and upper slopes with a range around the rim of the North Pacific Ocean, from the Yellow Sea to the Bering Strait, along the Aleutian Islands, and south to about Los Angeles, down to depths of 900 m (3,000 ft; 500 fathoms). It may grow up to 1 m (40 in) in length and weigh up to 15 kg (33 lb). It is found in huge schools.[3]

Molecular genetic analyses strongly suggest that Pacific cod and Greenland cod (Gadus ogac) from Greenland–Arctic Ocean are the same species and that G. ogac should be a junior synonym of G. macrocephalus.[4] Today, ITIS and the Catalogue of Life list Gadus ogac as synonym of G. macrocephalus.[5]


Global capture of Pacific cod in tonnes reported by the FAO, 1950–2010[3]
Global capture of Pacific cod in tonnes reported by the FAO, 1950–2010[3]

In the Northeast Pacific catches of Pacific cod by the United States trawl fishery and joint-venture fisheries increased from less than 1,000 tonnes in 1979 to nearly 91,000 tonnes in 1984 and reached 430,196 tonnes in 1995. Today, catches are tightly regulated and the Pacific cod quota is split among fisheries that use hook and line gear, pots, and bottom trawls.

Conservation status

The Salish Sea population of Pacific cod is a U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service Species of Concern, one of those species about which the U.S. government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has some concerns regarding status and threats, but for which insufficient information is available to indicate a need to list the species under the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA).[6]

See also


  1. ^ Harington, C.R (2004). "A Late Pleistocene Steller sea lion (Eumetopias jubatus) from Courtenay, British Columbia: its death, associated biota, and paleoenvironment". Canadian Journal of Earth Sciences. 41 (11). doi:10.1139/e04-061.
  2. ^ Froese, Rainer; Pauly, Daniel (eds.) (2018). "Gadus macrocephalus" in FishBase. February 2018 version.
  3. ^ a b Gadus macrocephalus (Tilesius, 1810) FAO, Species Fact Sheet. Retrieved April 2012.
  4. ^ Carr, S. M.; Kivlichan, D. S.; Pepin, P.; Crutcher, D. C. (1999). "Molecular systematics of gadid fishes: Implications for the biogeographic origins of Pacific species". Canadian Journal of Zoology. 77: 19–26. doi:10.1139/z98-194.
  5. ^ Catalogue of Life: Gadus macrocephalus.
  6. ^ Species of Concern NOAA