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Halibut, Greenland

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides

Method of production - Caught at sea
Capture method - Demersal otter trawl
Capture area - North East Atlantic (FAO 27)
Stock area - North East Arctic (Barents and Norwegian Sea)
Stock detail - I and II
Accreditation -
Fish type - White flat fish

Sustainability rating Click for explaination of rating

This fish, caught by the methods and in the area listed above, is the least sustainable fish to eat and should be avoided. Click on the rating icon above to read more and on the alternatives tab below to find sustainable fish to eat.


Sustainability overview

For many years the advice for this stock is to reduce catches to allow the stock to rebuild. Although reference points for the stock are not determined stock status is considered to be low, and scientific advice to limit catches is being ignored, with TACs being agreed by the Joint Russian-Norwegian Fisheries Commission 20% above levels recommended by scientists. Greenland halibut is a long-lived species which can only sustain low exploitation.

Biology

This is an Arctic species which feeds in mid-water. Unlike most other flatfish, its 'blind side' is dark grey rather than white. Greenland halibut spawns in summer (April to June). It is a relatively slow-growing and long-lived species. Males become sexually mature when 7-8 years old and 55-65cm long and females when 9-11 years old and 65-80cm. They move into deeper water as they grow and can reach lengths of 120cm. Maximum reported age 30 years.

Stock information

Stock area
North East Arctic (Barents and Norwegian Sea)

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Stock information
Since 2001 ICES advice for this stock has been to reduce catches to rebuild the stock. No reference points are defined for this stock and only landings and survey trends of biomass are available. Although there are signs of improvement in stock biomass - estimates indicate a stable or increasing trend since 1992 - there is no information on the exploitation rate of the stock. ICES advice to reduce catches below 13,000t (the level below which stock size has previously increased) has been largely ignored by the two main fishing countries, Norway and Russia, and in fact the Joint Russian-Norwegian Fisheries Commission have set the TAC at 15,000t for the period 2009-2012. Several other countries continue to fish this species, although at much lower levels compared to Russia and Norway, which combined represent 90-95% of landings. Effective evaluation of the stock remains problematic due to persistent issues of uncertainty. ICES advice for 2014, as in the previous year, is that catches should not be allowed to increase above 15,000 t, the average catch for the last 10 years. ICES advises that catches should not be allowed to increase.

Management

There are no explicit management objectives for this stock

Capture information

In addition to directed longline and gillnet fisheries for Greenland halibut, the species is also taken as bycatch in trawl fisheries. Since 2004, when less restrictive bycatch regulations were introduced, it has been taken in directed trawl fisheries for other species - for example, once cod fishing has ceased during a trip. This has resulted in increased landings of the species by trawlers. However, in 2009, the Joint Russian-Norwegian Fisheries Commission cancelled the ban on a targeted fishery for this species and set a TAC of 15,000t for 2010-2012. Given the status of the fishery, this represents a potentially negative development. Trawl fishing for various species in deep water has been associated with significant damage to cold water coral (Lophelia) reefs, with the Norwegian Institute for Marine Research estimating that between 35-50% of reefs have been damaged by fishing activity. Any increased and targeted fishery for Greenland halibut should ensure adequate protection for this sensitive, slow growing and poorly understood ecosystem.

Read more about capture methods

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 Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Halibut, Atlantic Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Halibut, Greenland Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Halibut, Pacific

Sole, Dover sole, Common sole Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.

Turbot Depending on how and where it's caught this species ranges from sustainable to unsustainable. Click the name to display only the sustainable options.


References
ICES Advice 2014, Book 3 http://www.ices.dk/sites/pub/Publication%20Reports/Advice/2014/2014/ghl-arct.pdf

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