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What is a Blue Cod?

L.K. Blackburn
L.K. Blackburn

Blue cod is a fish found only in the ocean waters surrounding the rocky coastlines of New Zealand. It is fished heavily both commercially and for recreation, leading to its placement on a quota management system in 1986. Depending on age and gender, the fish range in color from blue-green to brown-blue. Size and weight also vary, up to 23.6 inches (60 cm) in length and averaging 8.8 pounds (4 kg) in weight.

These fish have always been an important food source for people living in New Zealand. Native Maori used the fish as a staple part of their diet, calling it raawaru. Archaeologists located blue cod fish bones at ancient dig sites. These bones contributed to data tracking average length over time, numbers that suggest the cod has grown in size despite over-fishing.

Blue cod is a fish found only in the ocean waters surrounding the rocky coastlines of New Zealand.
Blue cod is a fish found only in the ocean waters surrounding the rocky coastlines of New Zealand.

New Zealand has a quota management system put in place by the government to monitor and restrict commercial and recreational fishing. Blue cod was one of the first 28 fish species placed on this program in 1986. The number of fish that can be caught per person ranges from 10 to 30 daily, and the number changes based on region and current fish population. All fish must be at least 11.8 inches (30 cm) when caught, otherwise they must be released back into the ocean.

Most of the blue cod population is concentrated in several areas, including the Cook Strait, Southland, Fiordland, and the Chatham Island. As bottom dwellers, the fish live in sand and weeds in shallow depths of water up to 492 feet (150 m) deep. Tracking studies of blue cod over time revealed that the fish usually stay in the area they are born and do not travel far over the course of their lifetime.

Breeding season begins in late winter and lasts until late spring. Eggs are spawned near the surface of the water, hatching after floating for five days. The blue cod larvae stay near the surface for another five days, finally leaving afterwards to begin their lives of bottom dwelling.

This species of cod can be hermaphroditic, switching from female to male after reaching maturity. Male fish grow faster than females, and the males are the only ones to appear a true deep blue in color. Female fish are more brown in appearance, and juvenile fish have a green tint to their blue coloration. The fish reach a size they can be legally caught at around 7 years of age, with a lifetime that can last up to 17 years.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Blue Cod?

The Blue Cod, scientifically known as Parapercis colias, is a marine fish native to New Zealand and surrounding waters. It's a popular target for recreational fishers due to its firm white flesh and mild flavor. Blue Cod can grow up to 60 cm in length and are known for their distinctive blue-green coloration and large, bulbous eyes.

Where can you find Blue Cod?

Blue Cod are predominantly found in the cooler waters around New Zealand, particularly in the South Island's rocky reefs, inshore waters, and kelp beds. They inhabit depths from shallow waters down to about 150 meters, making them accessible to both shore-based and boat fishers.

What do Blue Cod eat?

Blue Cod are opportunistic predators with a varied diet. They primarily feed on smaller fish, crustaceans, and mollusks. Their strong teeth and powerful jaws allow them to crush hard-shelled prey with ease, making them effective hunters in their benthic marine habitats.

How do you identify a Blue Cod?

A Blue Cod can be identified by its blue to greenish-blue coloration, which is more intense in males, and the pale blotches on its sides. They have a chunky body, a broad head, and a protruding lower jaw. Juveniles often exhibit a more mottled appearance, which becomes solid in adults.

Is the Blue Cod an endangered species?

As of my knowledge cutoff in 2023, the Blue Cod is not classified as an endangered species. However, due to its popularity among fishers, there are regulations and conservation efforts in place to manage stocks and ensure sustainable fishing practices, such as size limits and seasonal no-take periods in certain areas.

Can you eat Blue Cod, and what does it taste like?

Yes, Blue Cod is a highly prized table fish known for its delicate, sweet flavor and flaky white flesh. It's versatile in the kitchen, suitable for a range of cooking methods including grilling, baking, and frying. The fish's texture and taste have made it a favorite in both home cooking and fine dining establishments.

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    • Blue cod is a fish found only in the ocean waters surrounding the rocky coastlines of New Zealand.
      By: Ruslan Olinchuk
      Blue cod is a fish found only in the ocean waters surrounding the rocky coastlines of New Zealand.