Fisheries and Resources Monitoring System

Atlantic Cod - Grand Bank
Fact Sheet Title  Fact Sheet
Stocks management recommendations 2021
Atlantic Cod - Grand Bank
Fact Sheet Citation  
Cod in Div. 3NO
Owned byNorthwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) – ownership
ident Blockident Blockdisplay tree map
Species List:
Species Ref: en - Atlantic cod, fr - Morue de l'Atlantique, es - Bacalao del Atlántico, zh - 大西洋鳕, ru - Треска атлантическая
ident Block Atlantic Cod - Grand Bank
Aq Res
Biological Stock: Yes         Value: Regional
Management unit: Yes        Reference year: 2020
Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State Trend Aq Res State Trend
Aq Res State TrendNone-Low Fishing MortalityNo or low fishing mortalityRed
Aq Res State TrendDepleted Stock SizeDepleted

The spawning biomass increased noticeably between 2010 and 2015 but has subsequently declined sharply and the 2020 estimate of 7279 t represents only 12% of Blim (60,000 t). The relatively strong 2006 year-class left the population after 2018, which had some influence on the most recent SSB estimates but did not influence overall stock status. Subsequent year-classes are much weaker, suggesting that the medium-term prospects for the stock are not good. Fishing mortality values over the past decade have been low and well below Flim (0.3). Lack of catch-at-age data in 2020 prevented the estimation of stock size for 2021, however it should not be markedly different than the 2020 estimate.
Habitat Bio
Climatic Zone: Temperate.   Bottom Type: Unspecified.   Depth Zone: Slope - Deepslope (500 m - 1000 m).   Horizontal Dist: Neritic.   Vertical Dist: Demersal/Benthic.  

Geo Dist
Geo Dist: Straddling between High Seas and EEZ

Water Area Overview
Spatial Scale: Regional

Water Area Overview
Aq Res Struct
Biological Stock: Yes


A moratorium was implemented in 1994. Catches since that time are by-catch in other fisheries.

Recent catch estimates and TACs (‘000 tonnes) are:

Effects of the fishery on the ecosystem

No specific information is available. There is no directed fishery for this stock. General impacts of fishing gears on the ecosystem should be considered. Areas of Divs. 3NO have been closed to protect sponges and corals.
Bio Assess
Ref Point

Blim: 60 000 t of spawning biomass (SC, 1999)

Flim (=Fmsy): 0.3 (SC, 2011)

Although projections of the stock were not performed because of various limitations identified with the assessment model, the poor strength of year-classes subsequent to 2006 suggests that the medium-term prospects for the stock are not good.
Assess Models
Analytical assessment

A virtual population analysis model was used, and the results were consistent with the previous assessment. Input data comes from research surveys and commercial removals. The next assessment is planned for 2024.

Fishing Mortality



Human impact

Mainly bycatch related fishery mortality has been documented. Other sources (e.g. pollution, shipping, oil-industry) are undocumented.

Biological and environmental interactions

Productivity of this stock was above average during the warm 1960s. During the cold 1990s, productivity was very low and surplus production was near zero. The Grand Bank (3LNO) EPU is currently experiencing low productivity conditions and biomass has declined across multiple trophic levels and stocks since 2014.
Sci Advice

Special comments

The assessment model was accepted for stock status purposes, but a decision was made to not project the stock forward because of the limited age range (ages 2-12) considered in the model, as well as potential diagnostic issues (including directional retrospective patterns, trends in residuals in recent years). Limitations of the current assessment model suggest a need to explore more flexible models capable of dealing with uncertainty in model inputs (e.g., catch-at-age) and that do not impose assumptions about stationary natural mortality.
Management unit: Yes


Recommendation for 2022 – 2024

No directed fishing in 2022 to 2024 to allow for stock rebuilding. Bycatch of cod in fisheries targeting other species should be kept at the lowest possible level. Projections of the stock were not performed but given the poor strength of all year-classes subsequent to 2006, the stock will not reach Blim in the next three years.

General convention objectives are applied in conjunction with an Interim Conservation Plan and Rebuilding Strategy adopted in 2011 (NAFO/FC Doc. 11/22). The long-term objective of this plan is to achieve and to maintain the spawning stock biomass in the “safe zone” of the NAFO PA framework (FC Doc. 04/18), and at or near Bmsy.

Stock definition for management purposes

The stock occurs in Divs. 3NO, with fish occupying shallow parts of the bank, particularly the southeast shoal area (Div. 3N) in summer and on the slopes of the bank in winter.
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Scientific Council Documents. SCR Doc. 21/04 and SCS Docs. 21/05, 06, 08, 09, 10, 13. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2021. Report of the Scientific Council Meeting, 27 May -11 June 2021. NAFO SCS Doc. 21/14Rev. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2015. Conservation and Enforcement Measures. NAFO/FC Doc. 15/01. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2011. Interim 3NO Cod Conservation Plan and Rebuilding Strategy (NCEM Article 9). 33rd Annual Meeting, September 2011. NAFO/FC Doc. 11/22. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2008. Resolution on the Interpretation and Implementation of the Convention on the Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries. 30th Annual Meeting, September 2008. NAFO/GC Doc. 08/3. Click to open
Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO). 2004. NAFO Precautionary Approach Framework. Annual Meeting, September 2004. NAFO/FC Doc. 04/18. Click to open
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