Illustration: Jón Baldur Hlíðberg


A school of cod

Photo: Erlendur Bogason

Scientific: Gadus morhua. English: Cod, Atlantic cod. Icelandic: Þorskur. For more languages see the Marine Animal Dictionary.


Cod 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 history of fisheries around Iceland has more or less rotated around the cod. Measures to manage the fisheries by extending the EEZ, closing areas to fishing and controlling the fleet size and the amount fished, have all been primarily aimed at the cod but only later also been applied to other species. The evolution of the fish processing industry has also primarily been because of the cod. The cod fisheries have, therefore, shaped Icelandic society for centuries. The only species that approaches the cod in historical importance has been the herring, but then only during the late 19th and early to mid 20th century.


Cod farming has recently been increasing in Iceland, see more on that subject on the pages dealing with aquaculture.

References and further information

Hreiðar Þór Valtýsson, University of Akureyri