Cod (Gadus morhua) is “the fish” in Iceland. It is by far the most important marine resource in Icelandic waters. Its economic importance has only briefly been surpassed by herring in the 20th century and possibly Greenland shark in the 19th. The cod is also a large, fecund, greedy and rather fast growing fish and therefore has great impact on other marine species in Icelandic waters.


The cod can grow quite large; the largest individual measured in Icelandic waters was 73 inches long and 17 years old. Common size in catches is much smaller, or in the range of 18 to 33 inches long in most fishing gear. This corresponds to roughly 4 to 7 year old and 2.2 to 8.8 pound fish. In general, three year old cod are about 2.2 pounds and in the size range of 18 to 32 inches long, while 10 year old cod are around 22 pounds and in the size range of 39 inches. However, there are many variations but cod that thrive in colder waters grow much slower. Coloring is brown to green, with spots on the dorsal side, shading to silver ventrally. A lateral line is clearly visible.

For many decades Icelanders have consumed oil from the Cod’s liver as it is a rich source of vitamins E, A and D and the healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

Cod is certified since 2010 in the Iceland Responsible Fisheries certification program.