Atlantic halibut

(Hippoglossus hippoglossus)


Size:  Can grow to be at least 3 meters long, weighing more than 200 kg. 


Biology: The halibut is the biggest of the flounders. It lives on shallow waters the first part of its life, while the biggest halibuts is found on depths from 300 - 2000 meters. Most of the spawning grounds are found on 300 - 700 meters depth. The halibut prefers deep hallows on banks along the Norwegian coast and in the fjords. Important spawning grounds are also found on a plateau starting in the Denmark Strait (east of Greenland), then east towards Iceland, further east and south to the Faroe Islands and Scotland (see red areas on the map to the right on this page). There are also spawning grounds in the David Strait and on the New Foundland banks.


An anglers dream:

The halibut is an excellent swimmer spending the most of its life on deep waters in the northeastern part of the Atlantic Ocean. To many anglers a big halibut represents the ultimate catch. A grown halibut means hours of work while forcing this strong fish to the surface. Smaller halibuts are not that rare, and they can be found on 20 meters depth and deeper. The halibut loves mackerel.


Over fishing: The halibut stock is very vulnerable for over fishing. This happened in Norway in the 1930`s. The introduction of halibut nets in 1935, gave a fantastic result (and income) for the fishermen the first seasons. The halibuts where caught on their spawning grounds north in Norway. From 1935 to 1936 the catches increased with 230 %. In 1937 the catches dropped with 80%. The spawning grounds had been fished down after only two seasons using nets. The same year (in 1937) the scientist feared a collapse in the stock and the halibut fishery was regulated by law. The Norwegian scientists were not surprised by the sudden decrease in the spawning stock. The same had happened earlier when using long lines. In the 1880`s and 1920`s new spawning grounds had been found, but after a couple of years of fishing the catches had fallen dramatically. That explains the quick reaction from the scientists in 1937. Even back then they knew that the halibut was a vulnerable specie. In addition to strict regulations in 1937, the halibut stock were "saved" by The Second Word War.  


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Distribution (blue) and spawing grounds (red).

A happy fisherman in the 1970`s. Once in a life time

Sea fishing. Nice seized halibut caught near RÝst (Lofoten). Photo: Jouko Alanko (RP-team).

Other species       Tagging halibuts


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A big halibut

fishing in Norway tackle angler sea fishing

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