Gloucester is where the American craze for halibut began back in the 1840’s and started a gold rush that began to go bust in only a few decades. My late friend Jim was sailing as far as the coast of Greenland just to catch halibut in the early 1930’s with his family. Atlantic halibut has not been a target species since at least the early 1940’s, but the boats still bring them in on occasion and get a good price. I must have been 6 years old when my dad caught two huge Atlantic halibut in two days fishing on a local gill netter. Today commercial fishermen can bring in one large halibut per trip, with all signs pointing to a slow but steady recovery of these monster fish.
Recently I’ve learned about farmed Atlantic halibut, which seems to be a time consuming process. Like farmed sturgeon, these fish get very big, very slowly and so the intensive aquaculture techniques used in other fish wouldn’t work. That’s a good thing. If aquaculture is the “future” of fish consumption, then it has to show that it can be done with little to no impact on the ecosystem, the wild stocks and those that catch them. A Norwegian company may have found a way to provide very high quality Atlantic halibut, using an innovative, low-impact approach to raising the fish on land.
GLITNE AS runs Sogn Aqua fish farm, where they use the cold, clean waters of the local fjord to raise unique halibut known for pure white meat. They pump the seawater from over 300 feet down deep in the fjord and raise the fish on land, where they are hand fed and allowed to grow for several years before harvesting. Their website states that everything is recycled and they do not pollute the land or the sea in their production.
I first learned about GLITNE from the Aqua-Spark website, and after looking over the website, I can see why they were involved in their startup. A unique way to raise halibut producing a unique product. The fish looks absolutely stunning, and I’m sure commands top dollar. I contacted the company to see if GLITNE halibut is available in the US. I got a nice email from Ole-Kristian Hess-Erga Ph.D., head of Development and Quality for GLITNE/Sogn Aqua, stating that their Snow White halibut is available in select markets in the EU as well as New York City.
However they plan to increase production soon, including some new products for the high-end retail market. Ole-Kristian sent me an image of one of these new products that will be hitting the market in 2018: Sashimi-grade, lightly smoke halibut fillets. Man, I would kill to try some of this…I can’t believe it is farm-raised!