Fish and Seafood
For many years, cod was the most important groundfish species in Atlantic Canada. The elongated body has colour varying from grey to green to brown to red, pale lateral line, and familiar barbel on the chin.
The most recent peak in cod landings occurred in the late 1980s when landings hit 425,000 tonnes, most of the production centred in Newfoundland where the northern cod resource was plentiful. After that point, however, landings declined precipitously and a cod moratorium was declared in 1992; this moratorium is still in place in various parts of the Atlantic. Various reasons have been advanced for the sudden decline in cod: overfishing (both domestic and foreign), seals, and changes in water temperature are the most common reasons given. One theory has it that colder water in the northern cod areas pushed the fish further south where they were harvested as part of what was viewed at the time as a growing cod resource. In any event, we are very far away now from the days of 15th-century explorer John Cabot who described shoals of fish so vast that they could be caught "not only with the net, but in baskets let down with a stone."
Salt cod was what started this industry back then; indeed, Canada's first colonists were seafood exporters, drying cod caught in the New World and shipping it back to Spain, Portugal and England. In the 1980s, demand for fresh and frozen cod products (blocks, fillets and value-added products) increased, but now, with a limited resource and the need to extract as much value as possible for it, the trend has moved back to curing the fish, either salting and drying or shipping "green" for drying in the destination market. Cod is also smoked and used in many secondary products such as sticks, portions, and prepared dishes. Cod livers, cod cheeks and tongues, and cod-liver oil are some of the more exotic products produced from this fish. Cod is still the standard by which other white-fleshed fish are judged. It is a lean, white-fleshed fish with a large flake and a mild flavour.
Research into farming cod is ongoing in Atlantic Canada as a way of ensuring at least some stability of supply.
NOTE: These processors are volume wholesalers and are not usually set up to deal directly with consumers.
Source: Department of Fisheries and Oceans