Governance and Outlook — Seafish

Atlantic Halibut

Hippoglossus hippoglossus

Governance and Outlook


Governance systems play an important part in ensuring environmental sustainability, and whilst these have evolved rapidly with the growth of the industry, there are differences between regions and countries. Poor governance can result in industry stagnation, the spread of preventable diseases, environmental damage and opposition to aquaculture activities by local communities and groups such as non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Key governance responsibilities are ensuring environmental assessment and decision-making processes are in place for sensitive and coastal ecosystems, which help deliver sustainable aquaculture whilst managing possible adverse impacts. Other regulatory and governance aspects should cover aspects such as water abstraction and discharge, health monitoring, and so forth.

Four principles – accountability, effectiveness and efficiency of governments, equity, and predictability of the rule of law – are necessary for effective aquaculture governance. These principles should guide the administration, legislative and regulatory framework of aquaculture. In addition to governments, stakeholders such as communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and producers should also be involved industry governance1.

Atlantic halibut supplying the UK market is farmed in economically advanced northern European countries with highly evolved governance structures in place that are intended to stimulate and guide an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable aquaculture development.

In the Atlantic halibut producing countries, the relevant authorities have licensing regimes for land-based production facilities and resources whereby information on these can be accessed, e.g. in Scotland these are provided by the Scottish Government under ‘Fish Farm Consents’2

Marine net-pen sites will typically need to obtain a site licence which will require a prior environmental impact assessment and modelling of the potential impact of waste faeces, feed and chemicals that may be dispersed from the farm.

Certification schemes are playing an increasing role in aquaculture as a form of market-based regulation by setting standards required by the end-users. This is outlined later in the profile.


There is a premium price for larger farmed halibut linked to the traditional market established by the supply of large wild fish of 10kg or more. Nevertheless, with a good fillet yield and portioning characteristics, there is also a clear market opportunity for smaller fish3, sourced from aquaculture. However, the prospects are not always considered highly favourable, having in mind the high costs of producing Atlantic halibut. It is therefore predicted that, until the technical bottlenecks in Atlantic halibut aquaculture are resolved it will remain a niche species in aquaculture production. Success stories indicate that value addition and branding play key roles in developing a profitable halibut business and industry3,4.

In addition to the main producing countries, interest in culturing Atlantic halibut has been indicated also from Canada5 and the USA6 and Chile7, where currently farming is in still in experimental phase.

  1. FAO
  2. Scottish Government
  3. Diversify Project
  4. Diversify Project
  5. Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance
  6. University of Maine
  7. Gallardo, Pablo. 2015. History and methodology of Atlantic Halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) farming in southern, Chile.