As It Happens

Norwegians reeling in record numbers of giant 'coffee cod'

The local newspaper in Norway's Lofoten islands awards a bag of coffee for each cod weighing more than 30 kilograms. This year, anglers have been hauling more of the monster-sized fish than ever.
A few of the 490 anglers who've caught cod weighing more than 30 kilograms (66 lbs) in the Lofoten islands this year. (lofotposten.no)
Listen6:11

Fishers on the remote northern Lofoten islands of Norway have been hauling in record numbers of cod this year. And not just your run-of-the-mill cod. We're talking monsters. 

That development is keeping Kai Nikolaisen very busy. He's the local newspaper's official cod correspondent. It's his job to award anglers who catch a cod weighing more than 30 kilograms (66 pounds) a bag of coffee and a certificate.

The Lofotposten newspaper calls the big fish kaffetorsk — or "coffee cod."

(lofotposten.no)

"It's just a gag. You could give a flower or something. Everyone drinks coffee and fishermen drink coffee," Nikolaisen tells As It Happens host Carol Off. "It's just for fun."

So far this year, he has given away 490 bags of coffee. That's up from 289 last year. In 2010, only 49 anglers landed "coffee cod."

(lofotposten.no)

Despite fishermen's reputation for exaggerating the size of their catch, the paper simply requires that readers send in a photo of their big cod. No weigh-in is necessary.

"We trust fishermen," Nikolaisen says. "Especially for a kilogram of coffee."

(lofotposten.no)

Experts say the number of cod in the region may be up for two reasons: global warming has expanded the areas where cod can feed and the strict limits placed by Norway on the cod catch in the 1980s has help the fish thrive.

Nikolaisen says that, even if the number of "coffee cod" continues to increase, Lofotposten will continue to give its prizes away.

(lofotposten.no)

While he has fished for cod himself, the largest he's ever caught was 29.5 kilograms. While it didn't qualify for coffee, he enjoyed it boiled with its liver and roe, some potatoes and salt and butter.

"It tastes like heaven."

For more on this year's "coffee cod" haul, take a listen to our full interview with Kai Nikolaisen.

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