Certifier : 
SCS Global Services
Certified status : 
Certified with component(s) in assessment
Certified since : 
18 Apr 2006
Certificate expires : 
25 Feb 2022


This fishery – in the Bering Sea off Alaska, and the Pacific waters off Washington state – has been certified as sustainable since 2006. 

Pacific halibut inhabits the continental shelf of the US and Canada, ranging from California to the Bering Sea, and extends into Russia and Japan. It is highly prized by fishermen and chefs alike: growing as large as 500 pounds, it has firm flesh and relatively few bones.

Halibut is caught by bottom hook and line (longline). Its vast size helps fishermen target it. By using large hooks set at 5.5m intervals along a 550m ‘skate’ (groundline), bycatch and discards are largely avoided. Some redfish, lingcod and cod are also caught on the lines, which the fishermen are allowed to market; but most fish of this kind is used as bait for halibut, saving money. 

Minimum sizes are enforced: any halibut less than 80cm long must be returned to the water. This is the size at which the fish starts to be sexually mature. 

Bird bycatch in the fishery has also been significantly reduced. ‘Tori lines’, the flapping material that flies up over the boat as the lines are set, have led to an 80 per cent fall in bird deaths.

“Our North Pacific halibut fishery is a model for future generations. The MSC label is further verification that all stakeholder are – and should be – committed to sustainability. Our children’s children can expect to fish for, process, sell and consume this wonderful resource.”

- Dana Besecker, President, Dana F Besecker Co, Inc

Pacific halibut (Hippoglosus stenolepisimage © Scandinavian Fishing Year Book