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 one 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. Scottish production is independently addressing this feed concern making it a good choice.

Feed Resources

Criterion score: 2 info

Atlantic halibut is a fed species, using a diet comprising of marine and vegetable proteins and oils in a commercial pellet. As the feed used in UK production is certified organic it utilises fish trimmings rather than whole fish and the vegetable component is organically certified, as a result the overall feed sustainability is good for this species.

Environmental Impacts

Criterion score: 5 info

?This land based marine flow- through production method for this species requires no freshwater use and no seabed impacts from its construction. Being contained it also prevents escapes and interactions with surrounding habitats and species caused by waste, pollutants and disease transfer, which can be seen in open water systems. Predators are also excluded from this system.

Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion score: 1 info

Practices are in place to ensure high levels of animal welfare including slaughter


Criterion score: 2 info

Regulations are in place for issues of environmental concern such as discharges, chemical, land and water use and these are assessed as being effective. There is no independent certification for this species in this production system.

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)
Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
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.


The Fish Site. 2015 A Quick Guide to Farming Halibut Fish. Available online at https://thefishsite.com/articles/a-quick-guide-to-farming-halibut-fish (Accessed on 19/07/2018)

Gigha halibut. Sustainability. Available online at https://www.gighahalibut.co.uk/gigha-halibut/. Accessed on (18/07/2018)

Alistair Barge. Personal Communication. 07/08/2018

COMMISSION REGULATION (EC) No 710/2009. Detailed rules on organic aquaculture animal and seaweed production. Available at: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32009R0710&from=EN (Accessed on 18/07/2018

Aller Aqua. Species. Available online at http://www.aller-aqua.com/species/cold-saltwater-species/halibut/3-mm Accessed on 01/08/2018

Biomar. 2018. Organic feeds. Available at http://www.biomar.com/en/uk/products--species/salmon/grower-feed/