St. Lawrence species

Atlantic halibut

Hippoglossus hippoglossus

Type of resource

  • Bottom fish
  • Fish

Other names


Status of the resource

  • Cause for concern

In season

Fresh during the summer.

SIZE : An average of 1 m for 50 kg to 100 kg, up to 3.65 m for 320 kg.

LIFE EXPECTANCY : Up to 50 years.

LIFE CYCLE : It reaches sexual maturity at approximately 5 years for males, and 9 years for females.

Scientists believe that females spawn between February and May. Millions of eggs are laid and subsequently fertilized.

After 30 to 40 days of life, the Halibut’s left eye migrates to the right side and its body turns. It then becomes a flatfish. It, therefore, does not have that “little crooked look” it has had since its birth.

Atlantic halibut has a brownish-green to very dark brown color on its right side (which is its back) allowing it to blend with the marine substrate*. Its lateral line is arched and visible. Its tail fin is indented. It has a wide mouth with numerous sharp-edged teeth. Young halibut’s eyes migrate to the right. Its belly, which is on the left side, is turned towards the ground and is blind. Its color is white with grey, and sometimes red mottling.

On the seabed, between 10 m and 2000 m deep.


Marine worms
Other fishes




MACHINES : Longline, line, gillnet.


  • Minimum catch size since 1994 : 81 cm.
  • Quotas in effect since 1988.

Stocks were in decline during the 1950s but seem to have increased since then. Canada’s stock assessment, done in 2022, shows an improvement.
Halibut is the world’s largest flatfish. Because of its size, it has significant commercial value.

Make way for other fish.

In 1852, Moses Perley, a New Brunswick lawyer and businessman, fisheries observer, and journalist, wrote in a report that Halibut were so plentiful and so large, that Halibut fishermen avoided certain areas, otherwise their boats would fill up with fish too quickly.

Rich in protein, in fatty acids and Omega-3, in selenium and vitamin D.

Firm texture, lean white flesh. Fewer bones (perfect for the less experienced).
Must be consumed within 48 hours when fresh, or within 4 to 6 months if frozen.


  • Favour short cooking times to avoid drying out (15 minutes oven-baked, 2 minutes on each side when pan-fried).
  • Defrost in a mix of water and milk for 2 hours to give it back its soft and tender texture.