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Atlantic Halibut in Norwegian Waters, Longline

fish

Hippoglossus hippoglossus

Content last updated
27th Jul 2016

Stock:
Atlantic Halibut in Norwegian Waters

Management:
Norway

Overview

Atlantic Halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) is a large carnivorous flatfish. It is mainly found in the Arctic waters of the North Atlantic, although it is occasionally found as far south as Virginia in the Northwest Atlantic, and the Bay of Biscay in the Northeast Atlantic. It is the largest flatfish species in the world and also one of the largest bony fish. There is a substantial difference in growth pattern between the sexes, with males growing up to about 50kg, but females growing up to weights of about 300kg and lengths of up to 3.5 metres (IMR, 2014). They are relatively slow growing and late maturing; in Norwegian waters females mature between the ages of eight to ten years, and males mature at a minimum age of seven (Hauge & Michalsen, 2012).

 

Only limited information is available on the Norwegian fishery for Atlantic halibut.  Most catches in the northern part of Norway’s waters, i.e. North of 62oN.  In recent years around 55% of catches from this area have been taken by gillnets, with longlines being the next most important gear accounting for about 30% of the landings. Of these, roughly two thirds are taken in coastal waters and the remainder further offshore (Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, 2012).  It is also apparent that the species is of increasing importance as a target for recreational anglers, with one account suggesting that such catches amount to around 2.5% of the commercial landings.

 

References

Hauge, M and Michalsen, K., 2012. Halibut grow slowly and undertake long migrations. IMR Marine Research News, no. 3, 2012. http://www.imr.no/filarkiv/hi_nytt_3_2012_til_web.pdf_1/en

 

IMR, 2014. http://www.imr.no/temasider/fisk/kveite/kveite/en

 

Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, 2012. Høring om regulering av fisket etter kveite og breiflabb (in Norwegian) http://www.fiskeridir.no/Yrkesfiske/Dokumenter/Hoeringer/Hoering-om-regulering-av-fisket-etter-kveite-og-breiflabb

Stock Status

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Atlantic Halibut in Norwegian waters has been scored as a high risk. No quantitative evaluation of the stock is available and although catches are increasing in a way which suggests an increase in stock size, the species’ biological characteristics make it very vulnerable to exploitation.

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Management

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The management of Atlantic halibut in Norwegian waters has been scored a moderate risk.  However, while there is no assessment of the stock and few regulations that apply directly to halibut, fisheries in the area are generally well managed and this may also be benefitting the halibut stock.

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Bycatch

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The bycatch risk for this fishery is scored as a low risk. This is because although there is no information available on any longline fishery for Atlantic halibut in Norwegian waters, based on information from other Norwegian longline fisheries, the bycatch of non-commercial unregulated species is likely to be minor with virtually no discards. Seabird mortality is likely to be very low, with zero bycatch of marine mammals.

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Habitat

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The habitat risk of this fishery is scored as a low risk.  This is because habitat impact is limited and is due mostly to that from anchors, and the backbone line moving across the ground at hauling. There is a system of designated marine protected areas, in proximity to which fishery is prohibited and there is adequate enforcement.

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Outlook

Current risk status Outlook Reason
Stock status High Stable Catches have shown a steady increase since the late 1990s, hence the only stock indicator is positive. However, given the species’ biological characteristics, improving the risk status of the stock would require a more quantitative evaluation of the stock status.
Stock management High Stable In the absence of a stock assessment and many specific management measures, the state of the stock appears to be determined by management measures applied to other fisheries in the area.
Bycatch Low Stable In line with other Norwegian demersal longline fisheries, the bycatch of non-commercial unregulated species is likely t to be minor. Mitigation measures are in place so there is little scope for further improvement.
Habitat Low Stable The combination of a gear with minimal potential for habitat impacts and a system of Marine Protected Areas for vulnerable habitats means that there is little or no scope for further improvement in the risk score.

Type Current Risk Status Outlook Reason

Stock

Management

Bycatch

Habitat