Atlantic Halibut by Small-Boat Longline

Granite Coast — Southwest Newfoundland


Atlantic Halibut


Apr 02 - Apr 15

Small-Boat Longline with Hooks

Fish harvesters use longlines to catch Atlantic halibut. Baited hooks are attached to a main line that is anchored to the sea bottom. With vessels ranging from 20 to 65 feet in length, this small-boat fishery takes place inshore and in near-shore areas. Incidental catches include cod, hake and flounder among others.

Harvesting Method

Small-Boat Longline with Hooks

The longline consists of a long rope, spooled into a tub , which fish harvesters set from the stern of their vessels. Baited hooks are fastened to this main rope by shorter lines. The longline is set along the sea floor where bottom-dwelling fish live. It is marked on the ocean surface using a buoy and flagpole at each end. Fish harvesters set several longlines at a time and haul them regularly to land their catch. Once aboard, the hooks are baited again, if need be, and the longline is reset.

Small-Boat Longline with Hooks

In Atlantic Canada, many different species are caught on bottom longlines. These include halibut, haddock, redfish, skate, cod and plaice. About 87 vessels are licensed to fish Atlantic halibut off the Southwest Coast of Newfoundland, although only part of the fleet is active each fishing season.

Conservation Measures

Longline fish havesters unintentionally catch undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) and non-targeted species such as cod, American plaice, redfish, skate and Greenland halibut when fishing for Atlantic halibut. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans limits the duration of fishing time to control fishing effort. A number of other measures also address conservation in this fishery, including:

  • strict annual catch limit of 48 tonnes in this fishing area;
  • a limitation on the size of licensed fishing vessels;
  • restrictions on hook sizes to protect small fish;
  • a minimum size limit of 81 cm for Atlantic halibut;
  • bycatch restrictions;
  • area closures if incidental catch limits are exceeded in a given day;
  • an industry-funded sampling program to collect data to monitor small fish and incidental catch;
  • industry-funded at-sea observer program at a minimum of 10% for vessels less than 45 feet;
  • dockside monitoring of catch unloading and mandatory logbooks for catch recording;

In this lobster fishing area, fish harvesters actively participate in scientific data collection and research such as:

  • a comprehensive data collection system on catches
  • scientific sampling of lobsters at sea
  • maintaining catch logbooks and scientific field notebooks

Granite Coast


Ocean Wise - Under Review

SeaChoice - Avoid


Apr 02 - Apr 15


Visit the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Newfoundland Region homepage for more info on the management of this fishery.


For the most recent stock status, check the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s science advisory reports.

Quality and Handling

Atlantic halibut caught by longline are individually hauled aboard, cleaned, washed and stored on ice. On the Southwest Coast of Newfoundland, fish harvesters land their catch each day. Properly handled and chilled on ice, fresh Atlantic halibut has a shelf life of 18 days.

Food Info Atlantic Halibut


  • Colour: very white
  • Texture: large flakes, a firm but tender texture and very lean
  • Flavour: fairly mild with a distinctive sweetness
  • Perfect serve: Its thick, succulent meat holds together perfectly when battered for traditional fish and chips, while its distinctive sweet flavour holds its own against the richness of this dish.