North American Atlantic cod populations are found from North Carolina all the way north to Baffin Island.

The Atlantic cod lives on both sides of the North Atlantic Ocean. Of the North American populations, the fish is found from North Carolina all the way north to Baffin Island. The Grand Banks area, off of Newfoundland and Labrador, has historically been home to large numbers of the fish, a key incentive that first brought Europeans to this continent.

Canadian Geographic

© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Biology - Atlantic cod.  An Atlantic cod clearly displaying its barbel.

Scientific name: Gadus morhua Average weight: 2 – 3 kg Average length: 60 – 100 cm long Average lifespan: 20 years or more (but wide variation) As the species that defined Canada’s fishing industry more than 500 years ago, the Atlantic cod has gone by many other names, including codfish, scrod, northern cod, ovak and uugak. Whatever it was called, it became highly prized for its inner flesh, which is white, firm and not very oily.

Dieter Craasmann

© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.


Cod in the balance:
conservation of the Atlantic cod species and its ecosystem

(Note - certain parts of the lesson plan cannot be displayed here. For the complete lesson please go to the learning section of: www.canadiangeographic.ca/vmc)

Lesson Overview
Atlantic cod is a species under stress at present. The primary cause of the decline in population is over-fishing, but environmental factors such as water temperature and predators also play roles. Knowledge of the characteristics of the Atlantic cod - its habitat, food sources, life cycle, and growth rate - help in understanding the impacts that fishing and changing environment have on the species.

Grade Level
Grades 6-8, adaptable for 9-12

Time Required
1-2 classes

Curriculum Connection (Province/Territory and cours Read More

Cod in the balance:
conservation of the Atlantic cod species and its ecosystem

(Note - certain parts of the lesson plan cannot be displayed here. For the complete lesson please go to the learning section of: www.canadiangeographic.ca/vmc)

Lesson Overview
Atlantic cod is a species under stress at present. The primary cause of the decline in population is over-fishing, but environmental factors such as water temperature and predators also play roles. Knowledge of the characteristics of the Atlantic cod - its habitat, food sources, life cycle, and growth rate - help in understanding the impacts that fishing and changing environment have on the species.

Grade Level
Grades 6-8, adaptable for 9-12

Time Required
1-2 classes

Curriculum Connection (Province/Territory and course)
General Curriculum Outcomes

Atlantic Provinces Curriculum for Social Studies: Council of Atlantic Ministers of Education and Training (CAMET):

People, Places and Environment
Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the interactions among people, places and the environment.
Interdependence
Students will be expected to demonstrate an understanding of the interdependent relationships among individuals, societies, and the environment – locally, nationally and globally.

Individuals, Societies, and Economic Decisions
Students will be expected to demonstrate the ability to make responsible economic decisions as individuals and members of society.

Link to the Return of the Wild Virtual Exhibition
www.canadiangeographic.ca/vmc

Range map showing extent of habitat of Atlantic cod

Additional Resources, Materials and Equipment Required
Computer/computer display equipment and Internet access
Enlarged outline map of Atlantic coast of Canada/North America (attached): for Groups 2 and 6
“Figures 1 and 2” Information Sheet: Atlantic Cod (attached): for all students
Student Activity Worksheets 1-6 (attached):one for each member of assigned groups
Copies of assessments “Teacher Assessment” and “Self-Assessment”: (attached) One of each for each group
Assortment of print atlases (January and July temperature maps should be in most world atlases e.g. Goodes, 22nd Ed, p. 32 & 33)

Reference websites:
Canadian Atlas Online
http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/themes.aspx?id=atlantic&sub=atlantic_features_codcalamity&lang=En

Historica
http://www.histori.ca/minutes/minute.do?id=10122

COSEWIC
http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/eng/sct5/index_e.cfm

Gilbert Bay Marine Protected Area
http://gilbertbay.com/biological.htm

Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gadus_morhua-Atlantic_cod.png
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cod

Fisheries and Oceans Canada
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/canadasoceans-oceansducanada/marinezones-zonesmarines-eng.htm
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/overfishing-surpeche/media/images/NAFOmap-carteOPANOlg-eng.jpg (for NAFO map)
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/science/publications/uww-msm/articles/atlanticcod-morueatlantique-eng.htm

Parks Canada
http://www.pc.gc.ca/progs/amnc-nmca/systemplan/especes-species/cod_e.asp

Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) Otholith Research Laboratory
http://www.marinebiodiversity.ca/otolith/english/home.htm
http://www.marinebiodiversity.ca/otolith/english/what.htm

Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage
http://www.heritage.nf.ca/environment/ocean.html

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/atlantic_cod.htm

Memorial University of Newfoundland Ocean Sciences Centre
http://www.mun.ca/osc/oscedu/gmorhua.php

Canadian Geographic Online:
http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/specialfeatures/atlanticcod/codhome.asp

International Council for the Exploration of the Sea
http://www.ices.dk/marineworld/coddecline.asp

GRID-Arendal (UNEP)
http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/the-decline-of-cod-in-the-north-atlantic

Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management
http://www.mass.gov/czm/coastlines/2004-2005/habitat/cod.htm

Captain Dave
 http://www.cptdave.com/atlantic-cod.html

Main Objective
Interactions among human activity, environmental change, and other species determine the health of a fish population. By determining the varying factors impacting the Atlantic cod population and, by extension, the effects on the economies of scale at all levels, students will research, construct an understanding, and develop an appreciation for sustainability as represented by the complex web of connections affecting this species and others.

Learning Outcomes
By the end of the lesson, students should:
• identify the characteristics of Atlantic cod species
• understand the conditions of the environment that cod require in order to mature and survive
• identify the characteristics of the North American ecozone of the Atlantic cod that allows a substantial stock
• understand the importance of cod as an exploitable resource through time
• understand why we need to conserve this key renewable resource and the efforts that have been undertaken to preserve essential species that are under pressure
• identify the factors that contributed to the demise of the Atlantic cod stock
• recognize the combined influence of natural conditions and economic factors (fishing) and the need to develop a sustainable environment
• understand the need for regulation and protection of resources that are contributors to the economy of a country
• develop an appreciation of strategies that have been formulated to ensure the cod population stabilizes and regenerates

Note to Teacher:
Before beginning lesson, set the context by showing the following:
http://www.histori.ca/minutes/minute.do?id=10122 (Heritage Minute: John Cabot)
http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/themes.aspx?id=atlantic&sub=atlantic_features_codcalamity&lang=En (Animation: Cod Calamity)
http://www.cosewic.gc.ca/eng/sct5/index_e.cfm (Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada)
Review assessment criteria so that students will be aware of what expectations they have to meet.

Teacher Activity/Student Activity

Introduction
• Atlantic cod has been fished in Canadian waters since the arrival of First Nations peoples
• Commercial fishing began in the 1500s and continued until recently
• The scientific species name is Gadus morhua.

To ensure that students understand key terminology, ask the following questions:
1. What is one of the main species of fish in the Atlantic region?
2. How long has cod been fished in the Atlantic region by humans?
3. When did commercial fishing begin?
4. What does “endangered” mean?
5. Can you name some species that are endangered?
6. What is COSEWIC?
7. Who serves on the group?
8. What factors does it consider in making its decisions?
9. Why might some people object to decisions of COSEWIC?
10. What is the Atlantic cod listed as by COSEWIC?
11. What happens when a species is listed as endangered under the “Species at Risk Act”?
12. Do you think the Atlantic cod is endangered?
Answer introductory questions.

Discuss rationale for the formation and mandate of COSEWIC.

Recount what they already know about the Atlantic cod.

Lesson Development
Reassemble students in groups, assign roles within the group, and explain that instructions for each specific group are on each numbered Student Information Sheet.

Distribute copies of:
1. Student Information Sheets to corresponding groups
2.Copies of “Figure 1 and 2” (both attached)-one for each student
Note: Groups 2 and 6 will also need a blank outline map of Eastern Canada/North America Divide into groups and research the following topics:
Group 1: Characteristics
Group 2: Habitat
Group 3: Food
Group 4: Life Cycle
Group 5: Growth Rate
Group 6: Fishing

Conduct research using suggested resources, information sheets, and maps.

Conclusion
Reassemble into whole class. Request groups to report on their findings.

Lead class to reach conclusions based on their research and compile a list using available media.

Develop a concluding discussion by asking:
• Although human over-fishing is the main factor, are there other natural factors that are significant contributors?
• What do you think should be done to ensure that the Atlantic cod recover?

Conduct a vote based on the following question:
“What do you predict the Atlantic cod designation will become under SARA (Species at Risk Act) in 20 years time?”

Reporter from each group explains what the group task was and what they have learned.

Offer conclusions such as the following:
• Atlantic cod numbers are low due primarily to over-fishing
• Atlantic cod in many areas have shown virtually no signs of recovery
• Natural changes in the ecosystem have occurred
• Predators contributing to keeping the population low


Class conducts and tallies votes.

Explain why they voted as they did.
Compile an information diorama with suggestions for action.

Lesson Extension
How does the history of Atlantic cod as a “species at risk” compare with the other species you have studied?
What do you think should be done to help the Atlantic cod recover? http://oceanlink.island.net/ONews/oceannews6/oceanews6p1.html

Research the history of the Atlantic cod fishery in Canada.
www.canadiangeographic.ca/atlas/fishery
http://collections.ic.gc.ca (Heirloom Series)
• Extensive amount of information in print versions of Historical Atlas of Canada
Compare the status of the Atlantic cod in Canada with its status in the waters adjacent to other North Atlantic countries

Assessment
Group self-assessment (open-ended statements)
Criteria-referenced teacher scale.

Link to Canadian National Standards for Geography
Essential Element #1: The World in Spatial Terms
• Map types
Essential Element #2: Places and Regions
• Physical and human characteristics of places and regions in Canada and the world
• Changes in places and regions over time
• Concepts of formal, functional and perceptual regions
Essential Element #3: Physical Systems
• Physical processes shape patterns in the physical environment
• Ecozones (major ecological communities)
• Global patterns of wind and water
Essential Element #4: Human Systems
• Types and patterns of economic activity
Essential Element #5: Environment and Society
• Effects of human modification of the natural environment
• Impact of natural and technological hazards on the human and physical environment
• Limits and opportunities of the physical environment for human activities
• World patterns of resource distribution and utilization
Essential Element #6: The Uses of Geography
• Effects of physical and human geography on historic events
• Role of multiple points of view in contemporary geographic policies and issues
Geographic Skill #1: Asking Geographic questions
• Where is it located?
• Identify geographic issues, define geographic problems and pose geographic questions.

Geographic Skill #2: Acquiring Geographic information
• Locate, gather and process information from a variety of primary & secondary resources including maps /make and record information
• Use a variety of research skills to locate and collect geographic data.

• Use maps to collect and/or compile geographic information.

Geographic Skill #3: Organizing geographic Information:
• Prepare various forms of maps as a means of organizing geographic information.
• Construct graphs, maps, tables and diagrams to display geographic information
Geographic Skill #4: Analyzing Geographic Information
• Interpret information obtained from maps
Geographic Skill #5: Answering Geographic Questions
• Present geographic information in the form of both oral and written reports accompanied by maps and graphics.

Cod in the Balance:
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem
Student Activity Worksheet 1

Characteristics
Mature Atlantic cod are usually 2-3 kg, 60-100 cm long
Largest recorded was 96 kg, 180 cm long (See similar size: http://www.fisherycrisis.com/images/ShawnCod.jpg)
Soft-rayed, 3 dorsal fins, 2 anal fins
Square tail
Has a barbel, an elongated flexible piece of flesh hanging from beneath its lower jaw
Grey or green; but can be brown, red, or golden, depending upon the habitat and food source
Websites:
http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/specialfeatures/atlanticcod/codhome.asp
http://gilbertbay.com/biological.htm
http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/fishwatch/species/atlantic_cod.htm
http://www.cptdave.com/atlantic-cod.html

Tasks:
Using the information on this page and suggested websites, report on the following:
Do you know how large cod can be?
Convert 96 kg and 180 cm into pounds and inches.
After converting figures:
• How does this compare with your own weight and height?
• How many cod would be required to make a metric tonne (1000 kg) of fish?
• What colour is Gilbert Bay cod?
• If a cod was taken from one place to another, or if its diet changed, would you expect its colour to change as well?
• Can cod from a particular area be recognized by their colour?
• Sketch and label an Atlantic cod.
• Find an additional piece of information about the Atlantic cod that you would like to share.

Cod in the Balance:
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem
Student Activity Worksheet 2
Habitat
Atlantic coastline of Canada, from Baffin Bay south to Georges Bank
Water depths of 400 metres or less (slightly seaward of the edge of the continental shelf)
Different groups (stocks) live in both individual bays and the open waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of St. Lawrence
Some stocks migrate extensively; e.g. “Northern Cod”, which can move through the entire Labrador Sea from northernmost Labrador to northeastern Newfoundland (as much as 800 km in a year)
Others live their entire life cycle in one bay
Require water temperatures of at least -1°C to survive and spawn
Suffer terminal kidney failure if they are subjected to rapid decreases in water temperature
Migrate to shallower waters (less than 50 m depth) during summer, while feeding
Websites:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Gadus_morhua-Atlantic_cod.png
http://www.heritage.nf.ca/environment/shelf.html (Click on map to enlarge)
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/canadasoceans-oceansducanada/marinezones-zonesmarines-eng.htm

Tasks:
Using the information on this page and suggested websites, report on the following:
Locate where Atlantic cod are found in North America.
Find and record a definition of “continental shelf” on website.
Discover the answers to:
• Using a bathymetric map (water depth), find the 400 m depth contour (or locate the edge of the continental shelf, defined as 200 m depth).
• Calculate how far the furthest point is from the nearest land in Canada (measured in kilometres)?
• Why do you think the North American continental shelf is an ideal habitat for cod?
• Where do you think they migrate in summer?
• What impact will colder water temperatures in the winter have on Atlantic Cod? (Fig. 1)

On an outline map of the Atlantic Coast, after examining websites or atlases, sketch/colour outline of North America’s continental shelf. Label it “Habitat of Gadus morhua.” Draw a legend on your map.
Bathymetry (water depth) is indicated on maps by varying shades of blue. See if you can do this on your map.
Find an additional piece of information about the Atlantic cod that you would like to share.
Cod in the Balance:
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem

Student Activity Worksheet 3
Food
Preferred foods are capelin, herring, and other small fish
Also eat anemones, shrimp, crabs, brittle starfish, and shellfish; anything smaller than itself
Swallow stones covered with adhering organisms, digest the organisms, and discharge the stone
Will eat their own young
Feed on or near the ocean bottom- a type of “groundfish”
Mature cod are eaten by larger finfish, sea birds, seals, sharks and orcas, as well as by humans
Websites:
http://www.canadiangeographic.ca/specialfeatures/atlanticcod/codchar.asp
http://www.mun.ca/osc/oscedu/gmorhua.php
http://www.glf.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/who-qui/ground-fond-e.php

Tasks:
Explore the diet of a cod and the availability of food by asking:
• What do cod eat?
• How does the variety of food sources impact the ability of the Atlantic cod to survive?
• How could a change in water temperatures impact the food types available to cod?
• What other species eat capelin and herring?
• Name some other types of “groundfish.” These species share the habitat of the cod.
• Are cod food for other species? See if you can find out which natural “predators” may affect the cod populations.
• Make a comparison chart: Food of cod and Predators of cod (May add pictures)
• Find an additional piece of information about the Atlantic cod that you would like to share.



Cod in the Balance:
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem
Student Activity Worksheet 4

Life Cycle
Number of eggs depends on size: an 80-cm female cod will lay 2 million eggs, one 120 cm long cod may lay 10 million eggs
Eggs are 1-2 mm in diameter, round, and buoyant in 30-32 ppt salinity water (typical salinity in waters near the coast)
Larvae are about 5 mm long
Depend for food on yolk sac attached to abdomen for first 1-2 weeks
Forage at 2 weeks age
Feed on the bottom when they reach 4-5 cm
Mature at 5-8 years of age
Males mature earlier and are smaller than females
Approximately 1 in every 2 million eggs survives to reach maturity, and thus is potentially able to produce more cod
“Recruitment”: number of fish that reach maturity in a year. Average age of fish caught by fish harvesters is 7 years
Oldest fish recorded was 27 years old (caught off Labrador)
Websites:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cod
http://www.mass.gov/czm/coastlines/2004-2005/habitat/cod.htm
Tasks:
• What happens when a species does not get the required food/nutrition available for survival? The average age of Atlantic cod caught by fish harvesters is similar to the age of maturity, when the cod are first able to lay eggs. What are the implications of this?
• A survival rate of 1 mature cod per 2 million eggs means that each mature 80-cm long female would produce one cod. How does this rate of reproduction compare to other animals (e.g., cats, dogs, chickens)?
• Why does it take so long for fish populations to increase after fishing is stopped completely?
• Find an additional piece of information about the Atlantic cod that you would like to share.

Cod in the Balance:
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem
Student Activity Worksheet 5

Growth rate
Otoliths (ear stones) in cod’s skull grow annual rings, like trees. Age determined by counting the annual rings
Rate of growth depends upon water temperature (faster in warm waters; see Figure 2). Cod living near the bottom in 8°C water (Georges Bank) are 50-60% larger at 4 years old than cod living in 2°C water (Labrador Sea)
Also depends upon competition and available food supply
Warmer waters would result in faster growth for Atlantic cod, but would also increase the number of predators on the young and competition for food
Websites:
http://www.pc.gc.ca/progs/amnc-nmca/systemplan/especes-species/cod_e.asp
http://www.marinebiodiversity.ca/otolith/english/home.htm
http://www.marinebiodiversity.ca/otolith/english/what.htm
Tasks:
• Why does the temperature at the bottom of the water column not vary as much as the sea surface temperature? Where do you think cod prefer to live?
• Look at maps of sea surface temperature in January and July for Atlantic Canada.
• Calculate how much difference there is in the sea surface temperature. Compare with the variations in land surface temperature. Draw a bar graph for display of this information.
• Sketch a large otolith for display. Label.
• Find an additional piece of information about the Atlantic cod that you would like to share.

Cod in the Balance:
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem
Student Activity Worksheet 6

Fishing
Between 1965 and 2005, the population of Atlantic cod (stock) declined by 97%
The Moratorium on commercial cod fishing in Newfoundland & Labrador was imposed in 1992
Fishing beyond the 200-nautical mile (380 km) limit is regulated by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO)
Most stocks of cod have not recovered since 1992, but some individual bays have shown increases.
Although Canada has long been among the leading fishing nations of the world, over the past 50 years Canadian fishing policy and management have not been marked by long-term planning, firm regulation of catches by Canadian and foreign vessels, and close consultation between scientists and fish harvesters.
This flawed approach has led to a collapse of stocks of Atlantic cod along the entire coast of Atlantic Canada.
Websites:
http://www.ices.dk/marineworld/coddecline.asp
http://maps.grida.no/go/graphic/the-decline-of-cod-in-the-north-atlantic
http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/overfishing-surpeche/media/images/NAFOmap-carteOPANOlg-eng.jpg (for NAFO map)
Tasks:
• Look at a map illustrating the fisheries management zones administered by NAFO.
• Is the collapse of the Atlantic cod stock a story unique to Atlantic Canada, or is it one of many similar stories worldwide?
• What problems do fisheries scientists face in trying to determine how many Atlantic cod are actually present in the sea?
• Find an additional piece of information about the Atlantic cod that you would like to share.


Cod in the Balance:
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem
Presentations Group: Self-Assessment

Part 1
Our group number and topic:

Our group members:

We think we will get a grade of:

Why we think:

The difficulties we had in our group:

To make our group more productive and efficient we:

Part 2: Reflection: Complete after presentation and teacher assessment

If we could change our presentation we:

Our reaction to our grade prediction being accurate/not accurate was:

We think this way:

This project:


Cod in the Balance
Conservation of the Atlantic Cod Species and its Ecosystem
Presentations Group: Teacher Assessment

Scale: 10 = Exceptional, 8-10 = Excellent, 7= Very good, 5-6 = Good, 3-4 Adequate, 1-2 =Needs improvement.
Criterion Score /10
1. Provided depth in coverage of topic
2. Presentation was well-planned and coherent
3. Information was presented in an effective order
4. Communication was well-paced and clear
5. Attention to detail in illustrations/diorama
6. Engagement in process
7. Cooperation
8. Efficient use of time
9. Initiative and
10.Task completion
Total:

Comments:


© 2010, Royal Canadian Geographical Society. All Rights Reserved.

Learning Objectives

Interactions among human activity, environmental change, and other species determine the health of a fish population. By determining the varying factors impacting the Atlantic cod population and, by extension, the effects on the economies of scale at all levels, students will research, construct an understanding, and develop an appreciation for sustainability as represented by the complex web of connections affecting this species and others.

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