Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed)

Hippoglossus hippoglossus

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — UK
Production method — Onshore open circuit system
Picture of Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed)

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

Atlantic halibut is widely farmed although in small quantities compared to other species. Unlike salmon and cod, halibut can be farmed in closed tanks as well as in open pens. Choose halibut farmed in closed, shore based production systems such as those used in Scotland, as environmental impacts of production are mitigated. Halibut do have a large dependency on fish to form the majority of their diet, and the fish required to make their feed cannot be assured to come from a sustainable supply. Look for organic farmed fish that can offer this assurance where available. Scottish production is independently addressing this feed concern making it a good choice.

Feed Resources

Criterion Score: -1

Atlantic halibut are a fed species, requiring a commercial diet containing fish and vegetable proteins and oils. Halibut produced to no recognised production standards cannot be assured to use traceable, responsible or sustainable feed. Halibut require fishmeal and fish oil in their diet making them a net consumer of fish protein rather than producers.


Environmental Impacts

Criterion Score: 4

Land based flow through production systems are required to clean and monitor effluent water before discharge. This system minimises escapes and disease transmission risks and does not require lethal predator control.


Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion Score: 0

Requirements for humane slaughter are in place but not for high welfare standards.



Criterion Score: 3

The management and planning for this type of production system is adequate and effective. The species is not certified to any third party certification standards.


Production method

Onshore open circuit system

The production of fish using onshore-based, controlled seawater flow-through systems addressed the issues of environmental concern that can arise from open water production as interaction, and therefore impact, on the environment is prevented.


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)


Atlantic halibut, the largest of all flat fishes, is a thick-set, right-eyed (both eyes on the right-hand side of the body) flat fish in the family Pleuronectidae. It is distributed throughout the north Atlantic, particularly Norway, Faroes, Iceland and southern Greenland, but occurs as far south as Maine in north America and the Bay of Biscay in Europe. It can attain a length of 4.7m and more than 300kg, but it is considered slow growing in the wild. Spawning occurs during winter and early spring. Atlantic halibut become sexually mature at 10-14 years, at around 1.4m in length. The oldest recorded halibut has been 55years of age yet models indicate that they could live for nearly 100years! It has been a heavily targeted fishery for more than 100 years and with slow growth rates, high age at maturity and a population doubling time of around 14 years, is highly susceptible to overfishing. IUCN list Atlantic halibut as Endangered (1996) and the species appears on the US National Marine Fisheries Service list of species of concern. Additionally the Project Inshore Phase II Report (2013) noted that under the MSC Risk Based Framework, the species was ranked as the 6th most susceptible species, behind some sharks and rays.


Tucker,J. 1998. Marine Fish Culture. ISBN 0-412-07151-7

FAO 2005-2018. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme. Psetta maxima. Cultured Aquatic Species Information Programme . Text by Rodriguez Villanueva, J. L. & Fernandez Souto, B. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 4 May 2005. [Cited 7 September 2018].