The eastern Bering Sea was characterized by anomalously warm conditions in 2018. Over the northern…
About the Species
U.S. wild-caught Greenland turbot is a smart seafood choice because it is sustainably managed and responsibly harvested under U.S. regulations.
Above target population levels in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.
At recommended levels.
Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitats affected by some types of fishing gear used to harvest Greenland turbot.
Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.
There are two stocks of Greenland halibut: Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and one stock contained in a stock complex in the Gulf of Alaska. According to the most recent stock assessments:
The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands stock is not overfished (2020 stock assessment) and not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
The Gulf of Alaska Deepwater Flatfish Complex is not overfished (2019 stock assessment) and not subject to overfishing based on 2020 catch data. Greenland halibut is contained in the stock complex, but Dover sole is assessed and is the primary species in the complex. Summary stock assessment information can be found on Stock SMART.
- A cousin of the Pacific halibut, Greenland turbot are a right-eyed flatfish.
- As they develop, their left eye migrates across the top of the skull toward the other eye on the right side.
- They are yellowish or grayish-brown on top and paler on their undersides.
- They have large mouths and large teeth.
- Greenland turbot grow quickly, can reach up to 25 pounds, and can live up to 21 years.
- Females are able to reproduce when they reach about 2 feet in length and 9 years old.
- They spawn in the winter in deep water near the ocean floor.
- When they spawn, females release about 60,000 to 80,000 eggs, and males fertilize them as they swim past.
- Once hatched, larvae drift hundreds of miles out of the deep ocean into shallower waters over the continental shelf to feed and grow.
- After a few years, larvae move back out to deeper waters over the continental slope.
- Greenland turbot feed on crustaceans, squid, and various fish.
- Narwhals, Pacific cod, and halibut prey on Greenland turbot.
Where They Live
- Greenland turbot are found throughout the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska regions in the North Pacific Ocean. They are less common in the Gulf of Alaska.
- They are also found in the Northwest Atlantic in cold Arctic waters and deep bays around Newfoundland, Labrador, Baffin Island, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
- NOAA Fisheries and the North Pacific Fishery Management Council manage the Greenland turbot fishery.
- Managed separately but similarly under the Fishery Management Plans for Groundfish in the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.
- Permits are required and the number of available permits is limited to control the amount of fishing.
- Managers determine how much turbot can be harvested and then set annual catch limits.
- Catch is monitored through record keeping, reporting requirements, and observer monitoring.
- Certain seasons and areas are closed to fishing due to habitat and other species considerations (e.g., king crab and Pacific halibut).
- In the Bering Sea, a percentage of the allowable catch is allocated to the community development quota program, which benefits fishery-dependent communities in western Alaska.
- In 2020, commercial landings of Greenland turbot totaled 4.9 million pounds and were valued at $2.6 million, according to the NOAA Fisheries commercial fishing landings database. The majority of the catch comes from the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands.
- Gear types, habitat impacts, and bycatch:
- Bottom trawls and longlines are used to harvest Greenland turbot.
- Turbot are harvested over sand and mud ocean bottoms, which are more resilient to impacts from fishing than other habitats.
- Longlines can incidentally catch seabirds and fish. Fishermen must use seabird avoidance devices, which help reduce seabird bycatch.
- Fishermen use circle hooks to increase survival of undersized halibut caught and released during commercial fishing.
- There are limits on the amount of halibut that groundfish fisheries can incidentally catch. If the limit is reached, managers close the fishery for the remainder of the season.
- A number of regulations, such as gear restrictions and closed areas, are used to prevent and reduce bycatch in the fishery.
- Greenland turbot are also harvested incidentally in fisheries targeting other groundfish, including arrowtooth flounder, sablefish, and Pacific cod.
Recreational Fishing Regulations
Commercial Fishing Regulations
Subsistence Fishing Regulations
Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska Harvest Specifications for 2006-2007: Environmental Assessment and Final Regulatory Flexibility Analysis
Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands harvest specifications
Data & Maps
Conditions in the Gulf of Alaska were close to average in 2020...
Considerable cooling began in late December 2019 and allowed for rapid build-up of sea ice,…
Throughout the Aleutian Islands, sea surface temperatures have been warmer than average since 2013,…