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Greenland halibut

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General

Flatfish

Flatfish belong to the order Pleuronectoformes. There are more than 500 species of flatfish. Flatfish live on and partly in the seabed, only the halibut swims higher up in the water column. Flatfish have an oblong, flat shape and their eyes on one side. The upper-side, the eye-side, of the flatfish has a camouflage colour and the underside is white. It may seem like flatfish swim on their belly, however, in fact, they are laying on their side. Flatfish larvae have a regular fish shape, with eyes on each side and a vertical swimming mode. After 6 weeks, one of the eyes migrates upwards, over the head to the other side. From now own, the flatfish swims with their eyes up and their blind side facing the seabed.

The best known flatfish species in the Netherlands are sole and plaice. Other flatfish species that occur in the North Sea are the common dab, halibut, turbot, brill, European flounder and lemon sole. Flatfish are caught with beam trawls, pulse trawls or demersal otter trawls.

 

Greenland halibut

The Greeland halibut is found in all Arctic and temperate waters in the northern hemisphere. This species lives near the seafloor, often at depths between 500 and 1000 metres. They occasionally hunt at lesser depths for squid. This species of halibut has a maximum lifespan of 30 years and reaches lengths of 1.30 metres. These fish then weigh around 7 kilograms.

 

Greenland halibut

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-west (FAO 21)

Farming- / Catch method

Bottom otter trawl

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Explanation assessment

Greenland halibut is a slow growing species and therefore vulnerable to high [fishing pressure].

[Bottom otter trawls] cause damage to the seabed. Vulnerable cold-water corals are occuring in the fishing area.

A small Greenland halibut fishery in west Greenland is MSC-certified since 2017. A fishery from Iceland is in review.

 

Greenland halibut

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, northeast (FAO 27)
Deelgebieden: Barents sea

Farming- / Catch method

Demersal longlines, Gillnets

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Greenland halibut is a slow growing species and is therefore vulnerable to high [fishing pressure]. Fishing pressure on this stockStock:
The fish of a particular species reproducing in the same area in the same period. 
is low and the stock size is increasing.

Vulnerable cold-water corals are occuring in the fishing area. GillnetsGillnets:
A fishing technique whereby passing fish get caught in the meshes with their gills. The net stands vertically on the bottom or hangs on buoys in the water column. The by-catch of species such as porpoises and dolphins is a problem related to gillnets.
and set longlinesLonglines (drifting):
A fishing method whereby a long main line (40-100 km long) with transverse lines with hooks with bait is expanded. The line floats on buoys in the water column. 
can cause damage to vulnerable bottom [habitats]. Discarding of bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
is forbidden in these areas. Seabirds can get caught in the longline fishery when hooks come to the surface.

The management plan is partially effective.

 

Greenland halibut

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides
Origin

Iceland grounds (FAO 27)

Farming- / Catch method

Danish seine

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Greenland halibut is a slow growing species and is therefore vulnerable to high [fishing pressure]. The stock size in Iceland is at the minimum level. Fishing mortality has decreased but is still too high.

Greenland halibut is bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
in the mixed [Danish seine] fishery. Bycatch in this fishery is low and discarding of bycatch is forbidden in Iceland. There is damage to the seabed.

The management system for this fishery is largely effective but is not considering the whole ecosystem sufficiently.

 

Greenland halibut

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-west (FAO 21)
Deelgebieden: Pacific Ocean, north-east

Farming- / Catch method

Bottom otter trawl

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

Greenland halibut is a slow growing species and is therefore vulnerable to high [fishing pressure]. The fishing pressure is higher than a level that makes a maximal catch possible (MSYMSY:
Theoretically the greatest possible 'safe' catch, in which fish populations have sufficient size to reproduce in the long term.  
). However, the stockStock:
The fish of a particular species reproducing in the same area in the same period. 
seems to be growing.

[Bottom otter trawls] cause damage to the seabed. Vulnerable cold-water corals occur in the fishing area. There are several protected areas where bottom otter trawl fishery is forbidden. There is little bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
in this fishery, discarding of bycatch is forbidden in Icelandic waters.

A jointly improved management plan is in process for Greenland halibut. The current management plan is partially effective.

 

Greenland halibut

Reinhardtius hippoglossoides
Origin

Atlantic Ocean, north-west (FAO 21)

Farming- / Catch method

Hooks and lines, Gillnets

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Fish stocks and fishing pressure
Ecosystem effects
Fishery management
Final assessment
Explanation assessment

The stocks and catches of Greenland halibut at the west of Greenland seem to be stable. This is not certain because there are no [stock assessments] being done. The [fishing pressure] is regulated by means of [catch limits].

LonglineLongline:
Also known as line fishing. A fishing method in which lines and hooks are used.
fishery and [gillnet] fishery have relatively low bycatchBycatch:
Species caught next to species targeted for fishery. By-catches can consist of non-commercial species and species that are too small, and can be kept (this part is sometimes called by-product) or thrown back into the sea (discards). 
. There are however known for occasional bycatch of vulnerable species, in this case Greenland sharks, bottlenose whales, wolffish and grenadiers. Quantified bycatch and discard data are unknown but are probably low due to the discard ban of Greenland. Although longlines and gillnets are passive fishing gear, they can be harmful in vulnerable habitats like cold-water corals.

Canada and Greenland have a joint management plan for Greenland halibut. The fishery is managed with a catch limit, [quotas], a minimum [landing size], permits and landing checks. Measures are being taken to protect coral reefs and vulnerable species and to decrease bycatch. Research on the effects of bottom fishery is ongoing.

 

ASC label

Fish with the ASC label is farmed in a sustainable manner.

MSC label

Fish with the MSC label is caught sustainably.

Good fish

This fish is not being overfished or is being responsibly farmed, with minimal impact on the environment.

Second choice

This fish is a second choice. There are still some improvements to be made in this fishery or fish farm.

Avoid

Do not buy this fish. It's being overfished or the way it's farmed or caught has a negative impact on the environment.

Welfare

There is fish available of this species that is farmed or caught using high welfare standards.

GlobalG.A.P.

GlobalG.A.P. certified farms are doing a step in the right direction in terms of sustainability. A few species with this label are getting a better score on the VISwijzer.

Organic

Organic standards are the strictest when it comes to fish feed. They also require certain measures for animal well-being.