Halibut, Atlantic (Farmed)
Production country — Norway
Production method — Open net pen
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.
Criterion Score: -4
Atlantic halibut are fed a commercial diet. The traceability and sourcing of ingredients is unknown, they also require a high percentage of fishmeal and fish oil in their diets.
Criterion Score: 3
Atlantic halibut in Norway are farmed in open net pens and do not require any chemical treatments. Water quality is monitored and there are few instances of escapes or disease outbreaks. Predators are controlled by non-lethal measures.
Fish Health and Welfare
Criterion Score: 2
Fish welfare and slaughter are covered by the Aquaculture Act 2005
Criterion Score: -1
Overall management requires improvement as although regulations are in place their enforcement and effectiveness is unknown. There is no strategic environmental planning system in place that incorporates halibut production, there is also no independent certification of the species.
Open net pen
The production of fish using open net pen systems can lead to issues of environmental concern.
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)
Sole, Dover sole, Common sole
Turbot (Caught at sea)
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.
ReferencesTucker,J. 1998. Marine Fish Culture. ISBN 0-412-07151-7
Halibut and Turbot farming in Norway 2011. Norsk Sjomatsenter. AquaNor 2011.
Norwegian Seafood Council personal communication . 31/10/2012
FAO 2007-2018. National Aquaculture Legislation Overview. Norway. National Aquaculture Legislation Overview (NALO) Fact Sheets. Text by Skonhoft, A. In: FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Department [online]. Rome. Updated 14 December 2010. [Cited 7 September 2018]