Atlantic cod is considered a threatened species on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List of Threatened Species and it has also been declared endangered by the WWF (World Wildlife Foundation). Pacific cod, on the other hand, is not considered to be endangered at this time.
Over the past few decades, the demand for cod increased exponentially when it was beginning to be marketed as a low fat, heart healthy fish. It is commonly found in fish and chips. However, between this high demand and by result of bycatch, Atlantic cod was fished nearly to extinction in the 1990’s and is still threatened as a result. Cod liver oil has also grown quite popular in past years, as a supplement loaded with Vitamins A, E, B6 and B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, only adding to its threat as a species.
In addition to this, cod products from Ireland and the UK were examined and have been found to have been using mislabeled products in order to deceive consumers by marketing endangered Atlantic cod as sustainably sourced Pacific cod; just another way in which the market is affecting this vulnerable species.
Conservationists have recently called on consumers to boycott a number of species of fish, cod included, for the impact that over-fishing has made is threatening the existence of the species as wholes. Not only has the over-fishing of sea life affected species by limiting their numbers profoundly, but it also has been shown to throw off the entire balance of the aquatic food chain, for when a predatory animal such as the codfish is limited in number, its prey may increase to above-natural numbers.
The Atlantic codfish has sadly become just one example to show how unsustainable fishing is destroying ocean ecosystems. The WWF and IUCN, as well as other conservation organizations, continue to make efforts to control this threat.