By Laky Zervudachi, Director of Sustainability, Direct Seafoods.
The Halibut is the largest of all the flatfish, with the record being a fish of just over 230 kg caught off the coast of Norway. They are an extremely slow growing species and have been on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) list of threatened species since 1996. They are considered endangered on the list – even worse than the Panda which is vulnerable on their scale.
Halibut do not reach sexual maturity until 10-14 years of age. This means that smaller fish that are landed have not had a chance to reproduce. There is growing concern at the lack of co-ordinated and consistent management plans or sensible projects to rebuild stocks across the North Atlantic. This is particularly concerning as the true stock status is unknown, meaning that fishing will continue to deplete potentially unsustainable stocks.
Some people have been known to use the excuse that Norwegian Halibut is a by-catch species, and should therefore be used. This information is erroneous as most Halibut landed in Norway is from targeted longlines which, although fairly well managed with some restrictions, are still targeting an endangered species.
As a result of assessing all of this information, Direct Seafoods have committed to not selling wild Halibut until a truly demonstrable well-managed fishery is in place.
The USA and Canada have proved that it is possible to develop a truly sustainable Halibut fishery. Their Pacific Halibut fishery has been MSC certified for many years. This is due to the concerted effort to put an effective management plan in place, and enforce it thereafter. It has been successful in this region, and could work equally in Europe! We ask customers to please avoid supporting the trade in endangered species and only put farmed Halibut on the menus!
Direct Seafoods | Market Report April 2019