Try again later.
The Atlantic halibut is not only the world’s largest flatfish, but also one of the largest bony fish in the ocean. Only the bluefin tuna, broadbill swordfish and blue and black marlin grow larger.
They are a cool- and cold-water species, that historically ranged from the Arctic to as far south as Virginia, in water depths of 150 to more than 6,000 feet. However, as halibut abundance decreased sharply in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the fish’s range contracted, and they are now seldom seen south of New England. Atlantic halibut can reach weights in excess of 700 pounds, although even fish half of that size are rarely seen in the northwest Atlantic today.
Atlantic halibut are managed by the National Marine Fishery Service’s Northeast Multispecies Fishery Management Plan, administered by the New England Fishery Management Council. Although the population declined sharply in the past 150 years, and remains at low levels of abundance, the species is still harvested in the commercial groundfish fishery; about 288,000 pounds were landed in 2016. Halibut are also occasionally caught by anglers, who place high value on such encounters. However, the total recreational catch is very small. Atlantic halibut are overfished, but overfishing is not currently occurring.