Why is Halibut So Expensive?

Halibut fish has long been a favorite among seafood lovers and foodies alike. However, not many people had the opportunity to try halibut because of its cost. 

Currently, the price of halibut fillet is $39.92/lb while Wild Alaskan halibut is retailing online at $20-$65 per pound.

So, wondering why is halibut so expensive? Let’s take a deeper look at this fish and what makes it expensive. 

Why is halibut so expensive?

Halibut is endangered and at major risk of extinction, that’s why this fish is so expensive. The species does not reproduce until it is over ten years old.

In addition, farmed halibut and wild halibut can only be produced and sourced in the cold northern part of the Pacific and Atlantic waters. The labor is intensive too which contributed to high shipping costs.

Today Gourmet Foods of NC - Halibut Fillets - Alaskan Wild Caught 12-6/7oz Portions (5lb Pkg)

Is halibut the best fish?

Aside from providing a rewarding taste, halibut is nutritious that is why it is one of the favored seafood worldwide. When it comes to taste, it has a gentle flavor similar to crab and the meat firmer as well as thicker than cod

What is halibut?

Halibut is a type of large flatfish which weighs between 25-50 pounds. They can however reach up to 8 feet long and over 400 pounds if left alone to grow.

Halibut can refer to Hippoglossus hippoglossus or Hippoglossus stenolepis, which resides mostly in the northern waters of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Why is halibut endangered?

Halibut’s slowness to reproduce and its high demand are the two major reasons for the massive decline of these fish numbers.

Halibut is a very popular food choice in the luxurious restaurants and expensive dinner parties because of its price. Many people are curious about its taste and features. A lot are so eager to see and try this fish to see what makes this fish expensive.

Halibut has an excellent flavor and firm flesh. You can also pair it with almost any other flavors because of its excellent sweet taste. Its delectable taste adds to its popularity.

In addition, they are the world’s largest flatfish and these species swim deep down, making the catching process a bit more challenging. They cannot be farmed and there are no alternatives to breed and market this fish for a lower rate.

Moreover, halibut don’t breed until they are ten years old which contributed to their declining numbers. Very few of these fish get to breeding age before they are caught by the fishermen.

Another contributing factor is the challenging part to measure the fish. A fisherman pulling halibut from the water cannot tell if it has reached sexual maturity yet. Hence, most of them can’t make the right decision whether to put the fish back and allow it to breed.

Due to the current status of its existence and to protect halibut from overfishing, the Canadian government implemented a quota system in 1991. So catching halibut now requires a license.

The prices of halibut doubled the year following its start of the quota system. 

However, the overwhelming price increase has caused fish retailers and restaurants to steer away from buying halibut in recent years.

How much does halibut cost?

In general, halibut can cost between $20 and $65 per pound. Shipping issues and shipping costs have driven up demand and rates.

Prices may vary depending on where you live. Many stores still stock this type of fish but there are minimum spends associated with this. 

But if you are lucky enough to find it in a market near the sea, then you can possibly buy it for a cheaper price since there are far fewer transportation rates associated with it.

How big do halibut get?

Halibut can grow absolutely huge, in fact, they can reach over four meters long. The largest halibut caught from a shore was 153 pounds and the heaviest caught was 418 pounds.

But because of the high demand and fishing pressure, it is unlikely that many halibut these days will reach bigger sizes. Aside from that, there are many predators that will hunt small halibut. 

The number of halibut fish will possibly not increase, unless they are given enough time to breed.

Should you eat halibut?

The choice is up to you. If you have enough money to buy it then why not. But it is still worth noting the vulnerable status of this type of fish. 

This type of fish is rare and desirable to eat, making it pricey. Partly because of the fishing restrictions and reduced numbers of the fish, the prices have increased.

Melissa is a food enthusiast and one of the founders of Kitchen Study - a food blog about the vegan lifestyle, meal delivery services and cooking guides. She writes about delicious vegan dishes from all over the world. From quick and easy weekday lunches to perfect Sunday dinner recipes, we have it all covered!