Halibut, Atlantic (Caught at sea)

Hippoglossus hippoglossus

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Demersal otter trawl
Capture area — North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area — All Areas
Stock detail

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Picture of Halibut, Atlantic (Caught at sea)

Sustainability rating five info

Sustainability overview

Atlantic Halibut is a data-limited species. The IUCN list the species as ‘Endangered’ (but this was last assessed in 1996). It is likely that Atlantic halibut is overfished in European waters. There is no rebuilding plan or long-term management plan. There are soome management measures in EU waters (such as limits of days at sea, size of catch, gear restrictions, real-time closures, Marine Conservation Zones and inshore habitat management) but management measures are considered to be insufficient and inconsistent. Apart from landings data, there are no data are routinely reported for stock. Demersal otter trawling is also associated with discarding of unwanted fish and the occasional capture of endangered species but capture rates can be reduced with appropriate gear modifications.

Biology

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 55 years of age yet models indicate that they could live for nearly 100 years! 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.

Stock information

Criterion score: 1 info

Stock Area

All Areas

Stock information

Atlantic Halibut is a data-limited species and its stock status is unknown. The IUCN list the species as ‘Endangered’ (but this was last assessed in 1996). It is likely that Atlantic halibut is overfished in European waters.

Northeast Atlantic halibut stocks are not assessed by ICES nor, are they sufficiently researched at the local or national level.

Management

Criterion score: 0.75 info

Even though Halibut may be overfished and their stock status is unknown, there is no rebuilding plan or long-term management plan for the species. There are no quotas, but a there is a minimum landing size and some bans for fishing halibut in Iceland. In EU waters, there are effort restrictions (such as days at sea), size of catch, gear restrictions, real-time closures, MCZs and inshore habitat management. Vessels over 15m in length are required to use Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS). However, measures to manage the species in this area are considered to be insufficient and inconsistent.

Apart from landings data, there are no data are routinely reported for stock.

For UK fisheries, Project Inshore Phase II Report (2013) noted that there are no harvest control rules nor are there any tools available to implement harvest control rules for Atlantic halibut.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.75 info

In these areas, Atlantic halibut is primarily landed by Scottish trawlers when targeting other demersal species, but also captured in demersal long line and net fisheries.

Angelsharks and Common Skate have been known to be depleted through trawling in these areas. In UK waters, management of vulnerable habitats is generally better in inshore waters.

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

Southall T. D, Cappell R, Hambrey J.B, Hervas A, Huntington T.C , Medley P.A.H, Nimmo F, Pfeiffer N & Tully O. 2013. Project Inshore Stage 2 Report. Prepared by Food Certification International Ltd. for Seafish and the Shellfish Association of Great Britain. Http://www.seafish.org/media/publications/2013.06.07_Project_Inshore_S2_v4.pdf Froese, R. and D. Pauly. Editors, 2011. Hippoglossus hippoglossus (Linnaeus, 1758) Atlantic halibut. FishBase. World Wide Web electronic publication. http://www.fishbase.org/summary/Hippoglossus-hippoglossus.html Marine Research Institute (MRI), 2012. State of Marine Stocks in Icelandic Waters 2011/2012, Prospects for the Quota Year 2012/2013. 2.7. Halibut Hippoglossus hippoglossus http://www.hafro.is/Astand/2012/eng/07-halibut-12.PDF MSC 2013. Canada Atlantic Halibut certification summary online. http://www.msc.org/track-a-fishery/fisheries-in-the-program/certified/north-west-atlantic/canada_atlantic_halibut/?searchterm=atlantic%20halibut