Maine Cod Fishery in Danger of Federal Curtailing; NYC Restaurants Still Serving Cod

In previous centuries, stocks of cod were plentiful in the North Atlantic.

No one wanted to see it happen. Yet, anyone familiar with Cod (1997) by Mark Kurlansky or End of the Line (2004) by Charles Clover knows that stocks of cod in the near North Atlantic have been depleted to a fraction of what they were a few decades ago, and the fish that once fed the world and enabled long ocean voyages is in danger of never bouncing back.

So great was the danger, that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration passed a regulation in 2004 requiring that the fishery be restricted so that stocks of fish in the Gulf of Maine could rebound by a target deadline of 2014. In 2008, there was a hopeful report that cod had already started to do just that, but we subsequently learned that the report was based on inconclusive and badly analyzed data.

An article in The New York Times, brought to my attention by a Sam Sifton tweet, notes that the shutdown or partial shutdown or other severe restriction of cod fisheries is imminent, and will likely have a devastating impact on the economy of New England. It also makes clear that the dire threat to the species is well documented.

Aren't Maine fishermen reporting larger catches than ever, as evidenced by a 9 million pound catch in the Gulf of Maine last year, and anecdotal accounts of fishermen? Well, there are two explanations for that proposed by End of the Line. One is that fishing technology has made it far easier to spot and pursue the last remaining fish, and, even sadder, that fish may be bunching together in a survival attempt, making them easier to catch.

We decided to find out how frequently cod still appear on city menus, and here are the results. This list doesn't include black cod -- a different species -- or salt cod, which is usually salt pollock. We took the data from menus posted on restaurant websites in all but three cases, where we got it from The 24 restaurants listed below are a fraction of the ones listed as serving cod on In some cases the source is identified on the menu, e.g., Chatham Cod, Casco Bay Cod, or Atlantic Cod. In other cases, the source is not identified.

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