Halibut, Greenland

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — North East Arctic (Barents and Norwegian Sea)
Stock detail — I and II
Picture of Halibut, Greenland

Sustainability rating four info

Sustainability overview

Greenland halibut is a relatively long-lived species which can only sustain low exploitation. The stock is currently in a relatively stable state.


This is an Arctic species which feeds in mid-water. Unlike most other flatfish, its ‘blind side’ is dark grey rather than white. Greenland halibut spawns in summer (April to June). It is a relatively slow-growing and long-lived species. Males become sexually mature when 7-8 years old and 55-65 cm long and females when 9-11 years old and 65-80 cm. They move into deeper water as they grow and can reach lengths of 120cm. Maximum reported age 30 years.

Stock information

Stock Area

North East Arctic (Barents and Norwegian Sea)

Stock information

Since 2001 ICES advice for this stock has been to reduce catches to rebuild the stock. Now there are signs that the regulations of the last two decades have improved it’s status. The fishable population has increased from 1992 to 2012, and has been stable since then, and the stock biomass currently assessed as having full reproductive capacity. The harvest rate has been relatively stable since 1992. Until recently only landings and survey trends of biomass and abundance were available for this stock. Agreement on an analytic assessment was anticipated for 2015 however no MSY reference points are currently available and ICES advice is based on the precautionary approach, which when applied means catches should be no more than 19, 800 (In 2015 15,000 t, the average catch for the last 10 years) tonnes in each of the years 2016 and 2017.


From 2010 the ban against targeted fishery was lifted by the Joint Russian-Norwegian Fisheries Commission (JRNFC) and since then Greenland halibut has been fished in a directed fishery, and also as bycatch in the fishery for other demersal species. The fishery has been seasonally managed, with a quota system based on vessel size. Catch reporting is believed to be accurate, but catches are higher than agreed TAC (between 10% and 20% in the years 2011-2014).

Capture Information

Commercial fisheries for Greenland halibut comprise gillnet (12% ), demersal trawl (59%) and longline (28%)fisheries. Total catch in 2014 was 22 244 t. Trawl fishing for various species in deep water is associated with significant damage to cold water coral (Lophelia) reefs, with the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research estimating that between 35-50% of reefs have been damaged by fishing activity. Any fishery for Greenland halibut should ensure adequate protection for this sensitive, slow growing and poorly understood ecosystem.


Based on method of production, fish type, and consumer rating: only fish rated 2 and below are included as an alternative in the list below. Click on a name to show the sustainable options available.

Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed)
Halibut, Pacific
Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Sole, Lemon
Turbot (Caught at sea)
Turbot (Farmed)


ICES Advice 2015, Book 3 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2015/2015/ghl-arct.pdf