Scotian Shelf / Bay of Fundy
Fishermen 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. Fishermen are allowed to catch several secondary species, including cod, white hake and flounder, when fishing for Atlantic halibut.
The longline consists of a long rope, spooled on a hydraulic drum, which fish harvesters set from the stern of their vessels. Baited hooks are fastened to this rope using clips or swivels. The longline is set along the ocean floor where bottom-dwelling fish live. It is marked on the ocean surface using a float and flagpole at each end. Fish harvesters can 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.
In Atlantic Canada, many different species are caught on bottom longlines. These include halibut, haddock, cod and pollock. About 767 vessels are licensed to fish Atlantic halibut in Nova Scotia, although only a small percentage of the fleet is active.
Longline fishermen unintentionally catch undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) and non-targeted species such as white hake, cod and sharks when fishing for Atlantic halibut. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans does not limit the number of active vessels but instead the duration of fishing time to control fishing effort. A number of other measures also address conservation in this fishery, including:
Visit the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Gulf 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.
Atlantic halibut caught by longline are individually hauled aboard, cleaned, washed and stored on ice. Fishing vessels can stay at sea for more than a week. Properly handled and chilled on ice, fresh Atlantic halibut has a shelf life of 18 days.