Halibut, Greenland

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — Iceland, Faroes grounds, West of Scotland, North of Azores, East of Greenland
Stock detail

5, 6, 12, and 14


Picture of Halibut, Greenland

Sustainability rating three info

Sustainability overview

The stock status is healthy, however, fishing pressure needs to be slightly reduced. Another sources shows a decline in population and average halibut size in the past 10 to 15 years. There is a formal management plan in Greenland and Iceland since 2014. The fishery is managed using licences, gear restrictions, VMS, recording of prohibited species and logbooks. Undersize fish and discards are landed. Habitat impacts and management is limited. However, new studies have outlined where vulnerable habitats are found for better avoidance.

Biology

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

Criterion score: 0.25 info

Stock Area

Iceland, Faroes grounds, West of Scotland, North of Azores, East of Greenland

Stock information

The stock status is healthy, however, fishing pressure needs to be slightly reduced. Greenland halibut in these areas are set as a single stock unit. Spawning grounds are likely to be southwest of Iceland, although nursery areas for the stock are unknown. There appears to be little recruitment variability between years.

The stock has been below BMSY since the early 1990s. Since the record low biomass observed in 2004, the stock has been stable with signs of slow increase. Since Greenland halibut is a slow-growing species that first appears in catches at ages 4-6, recruitment failure will only be detected some 5-10 years after it occurs.

Management

Criterion score: 0.5 info

Greenland Halibut in this area is managed under a formal management plan, which was agreed by Greenland and Iceland in 2014. The aim for the management plan is to be in line with Maximum Sustainable Yield (MSY), which the plan is generally achieving. The fishery is managed using licences, gear restrictions, VMS, recording of prohibited species and logbooks. Undersize fish and discards are landed.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.5 info

The fishery for this species is distributed over a vast area, but with a substantial part taking place in a limited area west of Iceland. It is mainly conducted by factory trawlers operating with bottom trawls/ shrimp trawls (82%), and to a lesser extent by gillnetters and longliners (18%). Demersal otter trawling is not a very selective form of fishing and can catch endangered species. Habitat impacts and management is limited. However, new studies have outlined where vulnerable habitats are found for better avoidance.

Alternatives

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.

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

References

ICES. 2017. Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) in subareas 5, 6, 12, and 14 (Iceland and Faroes grounds, West of Scotland, North of Azores, East of Greenland). 10.17895/ices.pub.3115.