Halibut, Pacific

Hippoglossus stenolepis

Method of production — Caught at sea
Capture method — Longline
Capture area — North East Pacific (FAO 67)
Stock area — USA
Stock detail — Alaska, Washington and Oregon.
Certification — Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)
Picture of Halibut, Pacific

Sustainability rating two info

Sustainability overview

The stock status is healthy.

The fishery is managed using a season, a minimum size requirement, gear restrictions and an Individual Fishing Quota (IFQ) Program. More information is required for small vessels which particularly for reporting of bycatch and catch of protected species. To reduce this, there are area closures and gear restrictions.

Longlines are a relatively low impact gear but can incur some coral bycatch. To reduce impacts to the habitat, there are protected areas and recording of bycatch and protected areas.


Distributed on or near the continental shelf throughout the north Pacific, Pacific halibut are found at a range of depths. Older fish are found in deeper waters in the winter and only move into shallower waters in the summer. Younger fish are found in shallower waters. Males can reach a size of 260cm and females of about 270cm; maximum reported age is 42 years. Females grow faster and live longer than males. Maturity is at about 5 years for males and 7 years for females. Spawning period is from November to January at depths of 200 to 1500 feet.

Stock information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

Stock Area


Stock information

The stock status is healthy and populations have been increasing since 2013. Fishing mortality is measured by fishing intensity, which is below the target levels. The last stock assessment was published in 2016.


Criterion score: 0.25 info

The International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC) has responsibility for managing stocks and applies strict harvesting conditions. The largest fishery occurs off Alaska, where the North Pacific Fishery Management Council allocates catch limits to fishers using the IPHC recommendations. The fishery is managed using an individual fishing quota program, (which incorporates quotas). General management measures includes a minimum landing size, a season closure during the spawning season. Longline fisheries for Pacific halibut in the waters of Alaska, Washington, Oregon and British Columbia have been certified by the MSC as environmentally sustainable.

Capture Information

Criterion score: 0.25 info

Longlining is a less fuel intensive and more selective method of fishing. There is, however, a possible bycatch of Skates, Sharks, Grenadiers, Laysan Albatross, Black-Footed Albatross, Pacific Cod and ETP species including seabirds (Short-tailed Albatross), fish (yelloweye rockfish). Measures have however been introduced in this fishery to reduce the ecological impacts of longline fishing. Accurate records are kept on bycatch species and their respective characteristics. Reliable estimates are available of all populations related to the fishery.


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)


IPHC Secretariat. 2017. Summary of the data, stock assessment, and harvest decision table for Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) at the end of 2017. Available at: https://iphc.int/uploads/pdf/am/2018am/iphc-2018-am094-08.pdf. FishWatch. 2017. Pacific Halibut. Available at: https://www.fishwatch.gov/profiles/pacific-halibut; Morgan, S., Jagielo, T., Hallenbeck, T., Humberstone, J. 2016. US North Pacific Halibut MSC Fishery 2nd Re-assessment Report. Seattle, WA.