Greenland Turbot

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.

Population Level

Above target population level in the Gulf of Alaska. Below target level in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and the fishing rate promotes population growth.

Fishing Status

At recommended levels.

Habitat Impact

Area closures and gear restrictions protect habitats affected by some types of fishing gear used to harvest Greenland turbot.

Bycatch

Regulations are in place to minimize bycatch.

Status

  • In the Gulf of Alaska, Greenland turbot are assessed and managed as part of the deepwater flatfish complex. According to the 2015 stock assessment, the complex is not overfished and is not subject to overfishing.
  • According to the 2015 stock assessment, Greenland turbot in the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands are not overfished and are not subject to overfishing.
    • Greenland turbot are not overfished, but are below target population levels, and managers have reduced annual catch limits to promote population growth.
    • Due to limits on crab and halibut bycatch, the fishery often closes before commercial fishermen harvest their allowable catch of Greenland turbot.
Appearance
  • 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. 
Behavior and Diet
  • 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.
Location Description

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.


Management
  • 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/Aleutian Islands, a percentage of the allowable catch is allocated to the community development quota program, which benefits fishery-dependent communities in western Alaska. The rest is allocated among the various fishing sectors based on gear type, vessel size, and ability to process their catch.