Cod farming: a possible answer to dwindling wild stocks?

Cod, a favourite fish for those that eat seafood in the Northern hemisphere, but for decades cod numbers have been in rapid decline due to its popularity. Is cod farming the answer?

The world’s first attempt at organic cod farming up in the Shetlands (UK) recently failed due to financial difficulties. Report. It has since been sold on to a salmon farming venture. There are a few non-organic cod farms in the UK but the real growth is up in Norway. They held their 7th Annual Cod Farming Conference in February.

The Atlantic Cod: The Potential For Farming In Shetland , an article by Jon Weldon and published by North Atlantic Fisheries College, clearly sees potential for cod farming;

Cod stocks have now declined to unprecedented levels and are now considered to be below safe biological levels in many areas. In response a great deal of research into cod farming has been carried out in Norway, Canada, and the UK. This research has enabled pilot-scale commercial production and low volumes of farmed cod have already reached the UK market. These initial batches of market-sized fish have met with a favourable response from retailers and consumers alike. Production methods and practices are rapidly being improved and it is hoped that in the near future a year-round supply of premium quality farmed cod will become available.

Environmentalists however claim pollution from cod farms could endanger already depleted Atlantic salmon and sea trout populations. The warning follows recent research showing that cultivated cod discharge 50 percent more waste into coastal waters than farmed salmon. Both the Scottish Government and European Commission are committed to significantly increased levels of fish farming.

It’s a difficult call as people need their protein but there is no point in decimating wild stocks of fish still further through pollution and disease from fish farming. It may be that the answer is to position these farms away from lochs and river mouths.

This entry was posted in Biodiversity, Food & Agriculture, Nature & Conservation, Oceans, Sustainablity, UK and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Cod farming: a possible answer to dwindling wild stocks?

  1. the Grit says:


    I’d say that the future of ocean fishing is dim at best. Really, it’s much like saying that people should never have gone into raising cows or pigs, and continued to only shoot wild animals. Farming will make overall better use of the resources which, if world population continues to grow, will be necessary.

    the Grit

  2. matt says:

    Unfortunately I think you are right. This practise of farming food from the seas is quite wide spread already.

  3. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    And it’s growing, just not as fast as the global population. On a side note, this subject is quite interesting to me, as I live 400 or so miles from the nearest salt water, which means ocean produce is a luxury good and not a dietary staple. This, however, is starting to change as fish farming expands. For instance, in the last 3-4 years, we’ve had fresh water shrimp appear in our stores, that are grown on the other end of the State, 300 miles or so away, and are quite acceptable as to taste, and even more so in terms of price. I discussed the production of these tasty morsels with my local agricultural agent, and, when we can scrape the investment capital together, it turns out that I could grow my own. Of course, I’d probably eat up, literally, all the profits, but what the heck!

    Which only leaves me waiting for the development of a lobster sized crayfish 🙂

    the Grit

  4. matt says:

    Interesting. And when the shrimps and fish ponds have taken over the farm we can move the cows onto barges. Actually lets forget all that and just grow all our food within labs. 🙂

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