Atlantic Halibut by Small-Boat Longline

Gulf of St. Lawrence — West Coast Newfoundland


Atlantic Halibut


No seasonal dates identified.

Small-Boat Longline with Hooks

Fish harvesters use a bottom longline to catch Atlantic halibut. Baited hooks are attached to a line that is anchored to the ocean floor. With vessels limited to 65 feet (20 m) in length, this small-boat fishery takes place inshore. Fish harvesters catch several incidental species, including cod, white hake and flounder among others, when fishing for Atlantic halibut.

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, plaice and flounder. About 500 vessels are licensed to fish Atlantic halibut off the West Coast of Newfoundland.

Conservation Measures

When fishing for Atlantic halibu, longline fish havesters unintentionally catch undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) and non-targeted species which are typically released live back in the ocean. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers of Newfoundland and Department of Fisheries and Oceans co-manage this fishery using effort and output controls to limit the catch each season. A number of measures address conservation in this fishery, including:

  • annual catch limit of approximately 500,000 lbs in this fishing area each season;
  • 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;
  • a maximum cap for incidental catch of cod, American plaice, redfish, skate, Greenland halibut, hake and flouner;
  • area closures if incidental catch limits are exceeded in a given day;
  • five options allowing fish harvesters to choose to participate in a one-day derby fishery or choose one of four periods to catch 850 lbs of halibut;
  • tagging of all halibut with traceable codes;
  • requirement for fish harvester to record and report each code and weight of each fish upon landing; and
  • an industry-funded sampling program to collect data to monitor small fish and incidental catch;

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

Gulf of St. Lawrence


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.