Seafood Watch - Seafood Guide

Halibut, California

© Monterey Bay Aquarium
SEAFOODRATINGMARKET NAMESLOCATION/CERTIFICATIONHOW CAUGHT/FARMED
Halibut Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Halibut Marine Stewardship Council Certified Wild
Halibut, Atlantic Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Halibut Nova Scotia, Canada Farmed in Tank Systems
Halibut, Atlantic Avoid: Avoid these products for now. These fish come from sources that are overfished or fished or farmed in ways that harm the environment. Halibut U.S. Atlantic Bottom Trawl
Halibut, California Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Chicken, Monterey & Southern Halibut, California Flounder, Hirame U.S. Pacific Handline
Halibut, California Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Chicken, Monterey & Southern Halibut, California Flounder, Hirame U.S. Pacific Bottom Trawl and Set Gillnet
Halibut, Pacific Best Choice: These fish are abundant, well managed and fished or farmed in environmentally friendly ways. Alaskan Halibut U.S. Pacific Wild
Turbot, Greenland Good Alternative: These are good alternatives to the best choices column. There are some concerns with how they are fished or farmed – or with the health of their habitats due to other human impacts. Greenland Halibut, Hirame U.S., Canadian Pacific Wild


California Halibut, Bottom Trawl & Set Gillnet, U.S. Pacific

California halibut caught by bottom trawl and bottom gillnet is a "Good Alternative" because populations are stable, but these fishing methods result in high amounts of bycatch of other species.

Consumer Note

The legal market name for California halibut is California flounder. However, it may also be found in the marketplace as "halibut" and is often confused with or marketed as Pacific halibut - a different species currently rated as a "Best Choice." To be certain, consumers should ask what kind of flounder or halibut they are purchasing. California halibut is available year-round as fillets, steaks, chunks and whole fish.

Health Alert

Environmental Defense Fund has issued a health advisory for California halibut due to high levels of mercury.

Summary

California halibut is a popular recreational and commercially caught fish that ranges from Washington to Baja California, but is most commonly found south of San Francisco. The northern sub-population is healthy and abundant, while the southern sub-population is at a low, but stable level. Halibut are fished with bottom trawls, bottom gillnets and by handline. The handline fishery is very selective and incidentally caught species can be released alive, resulting in a "Best Choice" recommendation. However, the bottom trawl fishery results in bycatch of numerous fish and invertebrate species, and the bottom gillnet fishery results in bycatch of some protected species, such as marine mammals and white sharks. Therefore, California halibut caught by bottom trawl or bottom gillnet is a "Good Alternative."

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How fish are caught or farmed makes a difference. Fishing boat