Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed)

Hippoglossus hippoglossus

Method of production — Farmed
Production country — Norway
Production method — Open net pen
Certification — GLOBALG.A.P. certification
Picture of Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed)

Sustainability rating three 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.

This rating is based on full compliance with certification requirements. Commercial buyers should therefore ensure that full compliance has been achieved in order for this rating to be applicable.

Feed Resources

Criterion score: -5 info 

Atlantic halibut has a large dependency on fishmeal and fish oil in its diet. These ingredients, as well as those terrestrial ingredients that also form part of the diet, cannot be assured to be responsibly or sustainably sourced as this is not a requirement of the GLOBALG.A.P. standard at present, although sourcing recommendations are made

Environmental Impacts

Criterion score: 1 info

The GLOBALG.A.P. standard covers many areas of environmental performance within its criteria - chemical use including antibiotics, escapes and environmental impacts assessments. Where criteria may be lacking, such as discharges, the 2005 Norwegian Aquaculture Act comes into force. However, given the small scale nature of the halibut farming sector and the sparsity of research it is difficult to gain a fully informed picture. Lethal predator control is permitted by GLOBALG.A.P. but there is no data to indicate if this is practiced or not.

Fish Health and Welfare

Criterion score: 1 info

Provisions are made within the GLOBALG.A.P. standard for both fish welfare and humane slaughter. These are contained within a Veterinary Health Plan


Criterion score: 6 info

Norway has a comprehensive range of regulations in place for the aquaculture industry, including a Marine Spatial Planning Programme. The Aquaculture Act 2005 covers a wide range of environmental performance indicators. Despite the lack of publicly available information specifically relating to the Atlantic halibut sector it would appear that this small scale industry is well managed.

The GLOBALG.A.P. Aquaculture Standard incorporates aspects stipulated by the FAO Technical Guidelines on Aquaculture certification and the OIE Aquatic Animal Health Code. It is recognized both by the GFSI for food safety and GSSI at primary production level, covering key sustainability aspects for animal production for human consumption.

Production method

Open net pen

Farming in open net pens allows for interaction with the surrounding environment and, as such, has to be managed in such a way as to minimise negative environmental and ecological impacts.


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.


"GGAP V5.0 (2016) GLOBALG.A.P. Farm Assurance, All Farm Base- Aquaculture Module, Control Points and Compliance Criteria, English Version 5.0, Edition 5.0- 02 July 2016, Obligatory From 01 July 2016.

FAO FishstatJ. Available online at: http://www.fao.org/fishery/statistics/software/fishstatj/en. Accessed 08/07/2019

Seafish Aquaculture Tool. Available online at: https://www.seafish.org/aquaculture/profile/36/atlantic-halibut. Accessed 08/07/2016

Pauly, Daniel and Watson, Reg (2009) ""Spatial Dynamics of Marine Fisheries"" In: Simon A. Levin (ed.) The Princeton Guide to Ecology. Pages 501-509

Alistair Barge, Gigha halibut. Personal communication via email. 07/08/2018

FAO. National Aquaculture Legislation Overview. Norway. Available online at: http://www.fao.org/fishery/legalframework/nalo_norway/en#tcNB00CB Accessed 11/07/2019

Aivind Bergh*, Frank Nilsen, Ole B. Samuelsen.2001. Diseases, prophylaxis and treatment of the Atlantic halibut Hippoglossus hippoglossus: a review. DISEASES OF AQUATIC ORGANISMS. Vol. 48: 57-74, 2001

UNESCO. Marine Spatial Planning Programme. Norway. Available online at: http://msp.ioc-unesco.org/world-applications/europe/norway/. Accessed 11/07/2019 "