Pacific Halibut

Common Name:

Pacific Halibut

Scientific Name:

Hippoglossus stenolepis

Market Name(s):

Common halibut, Alaskan halibut

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Sourcing Summary

10-60 lbs.

When fresh product is not available, distributors often thaw H&G halibut, and then fillet it in a process known as "refreshing." Previously frozen halibut cooks faster than fresh halibut and has a reputation for being dry. Fresh halibut is available in-season from major distributors and frozen (or refreshed) halibut is available year-round. Halibut "cheeks" are a delicacy cut from the head area next to the gills, with a texture similar to crab. The size of the cheeks can range from a few ounces to over a pound. Pacific halibut meat is sometimes found to be “chalky”—a condition associated with “a denaturation of muscle proteins” that appears more often in late summer and in fish caught farther south. The good news is it occurs in only about one percent of halibut. Chalkiness is easy to spot in fillets—the meat is white instead of translucent. While this is acceptable for applications like fish and chips, most buyers don’t want to pay as much for chalky fish.

Harvest Methods


Bottom Longline
Bottom Longline

Product Forms


  • Cheeks
  • Fletches
  • H&G
  • Portions


  • Cheeks
  • Fletches
  • H&G
  • Portions
  • Steaks
Fresh Seasonal Availability
Culinary Composition





Health & Nutrition

Nutrition facts

Serving size: 100 Grams
Amount per serving
  • Calories
  • Total Fat
  • Cholesterol
  • Sodium
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Omega-3

Recommended Servings per Month

  • Men
  • Women
  • Kids 6-12
  • Kids 0-5

Cooking Methods

Advisory Concern


Pacific halibut is one of the largest flatfish – they can weigh up to about 500 pounds and grow to over 8 feet long. Males tend to be smaller than females. Males sexually mature when they are 8 years old; females are able to reproduce by the age of 12. They spawn during the winter in deep water along the continental slope, mainly in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands, Gulf of Alaska, and south to British Columbia. Depending on their size, females can have between 500,000 and 4 million eggs. Scientists believe females release their eggs in batches over several days during the spawning season. Eggs hatch after 12 to 15 days. The larvae slowly float closer to the surface where they remain for about 6 months until they reach their adult form and settle to the bottom in shallow water. Halibut live to be relatively old – the oldest halibut on record was 55 years old, but halibut over age 25 are rare.

Larval halibut feed on zooplankton (tiny floating organisms). Juveniles eat small crustaceans and other organisms that live on the seafloor. Adults aggressively prey on a variety of groundfish, sculpins, sand lance, herring, octopus, crabs, clams, and occasionally smaller halibut. Marine mammals and sharks sometimes eat halibut, but due to their large size, halibut are rarely preyed upon by other fish.

Species Habitat

Pacific halibut are found in coastal waters from Santa Barbara, California, to Nome, Alaska. They’re most common in the central Gulf of Alaska, particularly near Kodiak Island. They’re also found on the other side of the Pacific, from the Gulf of Anadyr in Russia to Hokkaido, Japan. Juveniles (1 inch and larger) live in shallow, near-shore waters off Alaska and British Columbia. Halibut move to deeper water as they age. Adults migrate seasonally from shallow summer feeding grounds to deeper winter spawning grounds.

Science & Management:
  • Wild

    The International Pacific Halibut Commission has monitored halibut populations for over 80 years. Every year, Commission scientists estimate abundance and potential yield of the Pacific halibut stock using commercial fishery data and scientific surveys. Because these surveys contain such a long historical set of data, they are considered to be robust for statistically estimating abundance. 

    In general, coastwide exploitable biomass (the amount of halibut available to the fishery) is estimated to have declined by about 50 percent since 2000 along the west coast of North America. The extent of the decline and reasons behind it vary by area. While biomass has declined in recent years, the resource remains in a healthy state in all areas. 

    Beginning in 2013, the Alaska halibut fishery will be monitored by fisheries observers, either human or electronic, depending on the fishing vessel. Observers collect catch data onboard fishing vessels and at onshore processing plants. The data is used by managers and scientists in a variety of research activities, including stock assessments.Tagging studies, using passive integrated transponder (PIT) and pop-up archival (PAT) satellite tags, have enabled managers to better understand the coastwide migration patterns of halibut. As a result, a revised coastwide harvest management strategy has replaced regional closed-area regional harvest management strategies for halibut.


    The United States and Canada coordinate management through a bilateral commission known as the International Pacific Halibut Commission disclaimer; NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific and Pacific Fishery Management Councils are responsible for allocating allowable catch among users in the U.S. fisheries.

    The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is responsible for allocating the total allowable catch among users and user groups fishing off Alaska and developing regulations for the fishery, in line with Commission recommendations. NOAA Fisheries is responsible for implementing and enforcing these regulations. Examples of these programs include:

    • Individual fishing quota program, which allocates the total allowable catch among fishing vessels and individual fishermen. With their catch set, fishermen have the flexibility to harvest their quota anytime, creating a safer, more efficient, more valuable, and environmentally responsible fishery.
    • Community Development Quota (CDQ) Halibut Program, which allocates a percentage of the total allowable catch to eligible western Alaskan villages to allow them to participate and invest in fisheries in the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and to support sustainable economic and community development in western Alaska.

    The Pacific Fishery Management Council and NOAA Fisheries Service Northwest Regional Office establish regulations for halibut fisheries in U.S. waters off Washington, Oregon, and California (Area 2A). The Commission sets the total allowable catch for halibut in this regulatory area, and the Pacific Council allocates the catch among the following user groups: non-tribal commercial (incidental salmon troll fishery, directed longline halibut fishery, and incidental longline sablefish fishery), sport, and treaty Indian commercial and ceremonial-and-subsistence.


Impact on Stock

Pacific halibut are long-lived and slow to mature, making them vulnerable to fishing pressure.

Pacific halibut, which are found from northern California to the Gulf of Alaska, have a relatively healthy abundance, although catches have been declining in recent years. The reliable abundance is mainly credited to responsible management.

Habitat Impacts

Most halibut landed off North America is caught with bottom longlines. Although the gear does have contact with the seafloor, it doesn’t cause substantial damage. However, the gear’s precise impact on habitats is poorly understood. Off Alaska, longlining has been shown to negatively impact deepwater corals that are slow to recover from the damage.


Seabird bycatch is a concern in this fishery because the birds go after baited hooks as they come off the boat and numerous birds have been killed as a result, including some endangered albatrosses. Management procedures in this fishery are in place to mitigate seabird bycatch, including the mandated use of seabird avoidance devices on longline vessels.

Management Effectiveness

In 1995, an individual quota system replaced the derby fishing system, allowing halibut fisherman a set quota they could harvest any time during the season, eliminating the incentive to fish competitively. Pacific halibut in North America is regulated by the bilateral International Pacific Halibut Commission (IPHC), which is regarded as having a very good track record. In addition to quotas, management measures include size limits and scientific research-based decision-making.

Origin Harvest Method Sustainability Ratings
Canada - British Columbia (MSC) Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Russia - West Bering Sea (MSC) Longline
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Unassessed Origin Unassessed Fishing Methods
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Alaska (MSC) Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Alaska - Gulf of Alaska, Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands (RFM) Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Not Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - California Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Oregon Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
USA - Washington (MSC) Bottom Longline
Seafood Watch- Eco-Certification Recognized
Ocean Wise- Recommended
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Worldwide All Farming Methods
Seafood Watch- Unrated
Ocean Wise- Unrated
Good Fish Guide - Unrated
Name Country State/Province
7 Seas Fish Co., Ltd. Canada British Columbia
A&R Seafood Company United States California
A-1 Alaska Halibut / Kachemak Bay Seafoods United States Alaska
Alaska Glacier Seafoods, Inc. United States Alaska
Alaska Wild Caught Seafood LLC United States Idaho
Alaskan Leader Seafoods, LLC. United States Washington
Alaskan Premium Seafoods, LLC. United States Michigan
Alaskans Own Seafood United States Alaska
Allseas Fisheries Corp. Canada Ontario
American Fish & Seafood Company United States California
Anderson Seafoods Inc. United States California
Aqualine Seafoods Ltd. Canada British Columbia
B&C Food Distributors Canada British Columbia
Barlean's Fishery, Inc. United States Washington
Beaver Street Fisheries United States Florida
Blundell Seafoods Canada British Columbia
Bornstein Seafoods Inc. United States Oregon
C2C Premium Seafood Canada British Columbia
Calkins & Burke Canada British Columbia
Canadian Fishing Company Canada British Columbia
Caruso's United States California
Catanese Classic Seafood United States Ohio
Caudle's Catch Seafood Canada Ontario
Centennial Foodservice Canada Alberta
City Fish Canada Alberta
Clipper Seafoods, Ltd. United States Washington
Clipper Ship, Inc. United States Washington
Coal Point Seafood Company United States Alaska
Coastal Villages Seafoods, LLC United States Alaska
Codfathers Seafood Market Canada British Columbia
Daily Seafood Inc. Canada Ontario
Diamond Head Seafood Wholesale, Inc. United States Hawaii
E&E Foods, Inc. United States Washington
E.C. Phillips & Son, Inc. United States Alaska
Ed's Kasilof Seafoods United States Alaska
Empire Fish Company United States Wisconsin
En Gros Pierre Canada Quebec
Euclid Fish Company United States Ohio
Export Packers Company Limited Canada Ontario
Flurer Smokery Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Flying Fish Company United States Oregon
Foods In Season United States Washington
Fortune Fish & Gourmet United States, United States, United States, United States, United States, United States Illinois
French Creek Seafood Ltd. Canada British Columbia
FreshCatch United States California
Hallmark Fisheries, Inc. United States Oregon
Halperns' Purveyors of Steak and Seafood United States Georgia
Icicle Seafoods, Inc. United States Washington
Imperial Seafood and Shellfish Inc. United States Ohio
IncredibleFish, Inc. United States Florida
Intercity Packers Meat & Seafood Canada British Columbia
International Seafoods of Alaska, Inc. United States Alaska
John Nagle Co. United States Massachusetts
Kelly's Fresh Fish United States Washington
Kodiak Island WildSource United States Alaska
Lions Gate Fisheries, Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Lusamerica Foods United States, United States, United States California
Macgregors Meat & Seafood Ltd. Canada Ontario
Marinelli Shellfish Co. United States Washington
Mariner Neptune United States Iowa
Marx Foods United States Washington
Maximum Seafood Canada Ontario
Mikuni Wild Harvest United States Washington
Monterey Fish Market United States California
Norpac Fisheries Export United States Hawaii
Northeast Seafood Products, Inc. United States Colorado
Northern Lakes Seafood & Meats United States Michigan
Northport Fisheries Inc. United States Washington
Northwest Fresh Seafood Company United States Oregon
NOVA Fisheries / SunWave Processors United States Washington
Ocean Beauty Seafoods LLC United States Washington
Orca Bay Seafoods, Inc. United States Washington
Organic Ocean Seafood Inc. Canada British Columbia
Pacific Harvest Seafood, Inc. United States Washington
Pacific Harvest Seafoods United States California
Pacific Seafood Group, Inc. United States Oregon
Pacific Star Seafoods, Inc. United States Alaska
Palomino Foods, Inc. United States Washington
Pike Place Fish Market United States Washington
Premier Catch United States Washington
Profish Ltd. United States District of Columbia
Pucci Foods United States California
Raw Seafoods United States Massachusetts
Real Good Fish United States California
Royal Hawaiian Seafood United States California
Sam Rust Seafood United States Virginia
Samuels & Son Seafood Company, Inc. United States Pennsylvania
Santa Monica Seafood, Inc. United States California
Sea Forager Seafood United States California
Sea to Table, USA United States New York
Seacore Seafood Canada Ontario
Seafood Producers Cooperative United States Washington
Seafood4life Products Inc. Canada British Columbia United States North Carolina
Seattle Fish Co United States Colorado
Seattle Fish Company - Kansas City United States Missouri
Seattle Fish Company of New Mexico United States New Mexico
Sitka Salmon Shares United States Illinois
Sizzlefish United States North Carolina
Skipper Otto Community Supported Fishery Canada British Columbia
Slade Gorton & Co Inc. United States Massachusetts
Sleeping Giant Inc. United States Washington
Small Scales Seafood United States Alaska
SOGDA Limited, Inc. United States Washington
Star Fisheries Inc. United States California
Stavis Seafoods United States Massachusetts
Stikine Seafoods United States Alaska
Tai Foong USA United States Washington
Taku Fisheries / Smokeries United States Alaska
The Alaska Guys Singapore
The Auction Block Co. United States Alaska
The Fish Guys Inc. United States Minnesota
The Fishin' Company United States Pennsylvania
Tonka Seafoods, Inc. United States Alaska
Tradex Foods Inc. Canada British Columbia
Tri-Star Seafood Supply Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Triad Fisheries Ltd United States Washington
Triar Seafood Company United States Florida
Trident Seafoods Corp. United States Washington
Vital Choice Seafood United States Washington
Whidbey Island Seafood Company United States Washington
Wild Alaska Salmon and Seafood Company United States Alaska
Wild Fish Wives United States Washington
Wild For Salmon United States Pennsylvania
WildCatch Seafood Products LLC United States Washington
Willowfield Enterprises Ltd. Canada British Columbia
Wixter Market United States Illinois
Worldwide Seafoods (1997) Ltd. Canada British Columbia
ZF America United States Washington


  • Environmental Defense Fund
  • Marine Stewardship Council
  • NOAA Fisheries
  • Seafood Watch Program
  • SeafoodSource
Last Updated: 8/7/2020