Notices to Fish Harvesters

Snow Crab - 12B

Warning! This document is an archive. It is not in application and is made available to you for consultation purpose only. If you wish to see the active documents, please consult the Publications to Fish Harvesters

Conservation Harvesting Plan (Snow Crab Area 12B)




Approved, March 16, 2018

1. Application

This conservation harvesting plan applies to the fleet of snow crab licence holders of the area 12B, under the individual transferable quotas (ITQ) system.

2. Fishing Area

The area 12B is defined as the snow crab section in area 12 marked off by straight lines connecting the following points in the order they are listed:


49°51'50'' N

64°31'26'' W


49°40'20'' N

64°54'50'' W


49°00'00'' N

63°00'00'' W


48°30'00'' N

60°00'00'' W


49°05'00'' N

60°00'00'' W


49°05'00'' N

61°42'00'' W

The fishing areas coordinates are listed in the license conditions and are also indicated on the fishing areas maps, which are available at the following address:

3. Coral and Sponge Conservation Areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence

On December 15, 2017, Fisheries and Oceans Canada created eleven coral and sponge conservation areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence in order to protect areas with high concentrations of sponges and sea pens.

All fishing activities that use bottom-contact gear or gear designed to come into contact with the sea bed, including but not limited to bottom trawls, dredges, gillnets, bottom longlines, bottom seines and traps, are forbidden in the conservation areas.

For more information and maps of the eleven coral and sponge conservation areas, please visit the dedicated DFO website:

4. Fishing Season

The fishing season will last 12 weeks.

Forecasts predicting air temperature below 0 ºC for the first week of fishing and / or ice cover may delay the opening. The opening date will be confirmed by a Notice to Fish Harvesters at least 72 hours before the start of the fishery following a confirmation by industry representatives and an agreement on the opening date.

Also, please note that during the period when fishing is authorized, it is the responsibility of the captain to be informed of the marine safety notices published by Environment Canada and Transport Canada among others, as well as the standards and the best practices in marine safety, and to take all measures to ensure a safe fishery.

5. Number of licences and access

6 licences.

6. Quotas

Total allowance of captures (TAC) is of 125 tons, a decrease of 28.6 % from 2017. This level of harvest identified by the DFO could allow active license holders to reach the minimum level of profitability while allowing monitoring of the area. In addition, this level is in line with Science advice which requires harvest level be set at the lowest possible level following consultation between industry and fisheries management, which can allow monitoring of the area.

7. Management Regime

Individual transferable quotas (ITQ) program

The terms for ITQ management which are contained in the Administrative Guidelines of the ITQ Program (2012-2017) are renewed according to the terms and conditions described in the Notice to Fish Harvesters regarding transitional measures for the 2018 fishing season. The Notice to Fish Harvesters will be available shortly on the DFO Quebec Region website at the following address:

8. Fishing Gear

Gear soaking:

It is the responsibility of licence holders to lift their gear at least every 72 hours. 

9. New Management Measures to Minimize the Risks of Interactions with the North Atlantic Right Whales

The following requirements have been implemented in order to reduce the risk of entanglement to North Atlantic Right Whales.

Amount of Rope Floating on the Surface of the Water

The following requirements will be in place to minimize the length of rope floating on the surface of the water in order to reduce the risk of NARW entanglements:

- A maximum of 6.4 metres (3.5 fathoms) of rope shall be used when attaching a secondary buoy to a primary buoy.

- No rope attaching a crab trap to a primary buoy shall remain floating on the surface of the water after the crab trap has been set.

Note: A primary buoy is defined as a buoy or other floating device attached to a fishing gear. A secondary buoy is defined as a buoy or other floating device attached to a primary buoy.

Gear Marking

Licence holders will be required to mark the rope used to attach a crab trap to a primary buoy with a colour specific to the fishing area in which they are authorized to fish. This measure will be implemented on a voluntary basis in 2018 for snow crab fishing areas 12A, 12B, 12C, 13, 14, 15, 16A, 16 and 17. However, during the 2019 fishing season, fishing gear marking will be mandatory. This new requirement will help officials to better identify the sectors where a NARW may have become entangled. The following coloured markings will be required for each crab fishing area:

The rope used to attach a crab trap to a primary buoy shall have coloured markings specific to the fishing area (as described above) that are 15 cm in length.

Starting from the primary buoy, the coloured marking shall be permanently affixed every 27.4 meters (15 fathoms) along the rope attaching a crab trap to a primary buoy.

The markings shall be made by using coloured twine or coloured tape:

- When using coloured twine, it shall be interlaced within the rope in such a manner that it remains permanently affixed to the rope.

- When using coloured tape, it shall be affixed to the rope in such a manner that it permanently remains.

The shade of the colour used for the markings shall contrast with the colour of the rope used to attach a crab trap to a primary buoy.

Additional Identification of Buoys

In addition to the current regulatory requirement to mark buoys with the vessel registration number (VRN), licence holders will be required to identify each primary buoy with a sequential number in order to be able to individually identify each crab trap.

This additional requirement will help identify and retrieve lost gear and could also help identify the sector where a NARW may have become entangled.

The sequential number shall be solid block Arabic numerals:

-  without ornamentation;

-  written in a smaller or bigger font size than the VRN so as to be capable of differentiating the number from the VRN; and

-  in a colour that contrasts with the buoy’s colour.

Requirement to Report Lost Gear

Starting in 2018, licence holders will be required to report lost gear to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This new management measure will allow the amount of gear lost annually to be quantified, and help identify the need to increase efforts to retrieve gear that has been lost, which would reduce the risk of whale entanglements.

The information specified below must be reported by email to DFO at within a 24-hour period following the end of the fishing trip during which the loss of the fishing gear was noted, or within a 24-hour period following an arrival at port if the fishing trip is not yet finished:

a) the name of the licence holder / fishing vessel operator;

b) vessel registration number;

c) target species;

d) number and type(s) of gear lost;

e) sequential tag number attached to each lost fishing gear;

f) identification number indicated on the primary buoy attached to each lost fishing gear;

g) latitude and longitude of the last known position of each lost gear, if known; and

h) the last date on which the lost gear was set or lifted.

What to do if you observe a North Atlantic right whale

First of all, it is important to maintain a minimum distance of 100 meters from the animal. Details regarding sightings of live and free-swimming right whales may be provided to DFO at: or by phone at 1-844-800-8568. If you observe this species, please send us your contact information and information about the sighting (date, time, geographical position, number of individuals, etc.). If possible, you can also send us photos or videos.

If you see a right whale entangled in fishing gear, you should not under any circumstances attempt to release it on your own. The behaviour of an entangled individual is unpredictable and dangerous. You should contact the "Marine Mammal Emergencies Network" at 1-877-722-5346 as soon as possible to share information that will help to organize an appropriate response by expert groups (time and position of the entangled animal, behavior of the individual, details on the weather and the state of the sea, etc.).

10. Reporting interactions with marine mammals

In order to comply with the implementation of the US Marine Mammals Protection Act (MMPA) regulations, licence holders must now provide information regarding all interactions with a marine mammal including: bycatch, collisions and all sightings of entangled marine mammals that occur during fishing expeditions. To do this, the Marine Mammal Interaction Form must be completed and submitted by email to within 48 hours after the end of a fishing trip.

The information provided on this form will be used by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) to estimate levels of accidental mortality and injury to marine mammals. This information will allow DFO to better assess the types of threats that may affect Canada's marine mammals and to develop mitigation strategies.

In addition, if you observe a dead or distressed animal, please contact Marine Mammal Emergencies as soon as possible at 1-877-722-5346. If possible, do not hesitate to take photos or videos that will allow DFO to assess the situation and identify the species.

11. Hail out call

The hail out call prior departure must be placed at least 12 hours before departure.

12. At-sea Observers

The At-sea observers coverage is 15% of fishing trips made by the fleet, spread over the whole area and the fishing period.

13. Dockside Monitoring

Before the beginning of a fishing trip, licence holders must have an agreement with a dockside monitoring company legally designated by DFO; a list is available at the following address:

An hail-in call is required 30 minutes before the expected time of arrival at port.

Dockside monitoring is mandatory for 100% of landings.

Offloading must take place in one of the designated ports identified in the document entitled Designated dockside monitoring ports, available on the Department website at the following address:

14. Combined Form

Licence holders must acquire their booklet of Combined Forms from a prequalified supplier, identified by DFO, a list is available at the following address:

The Logbook section must be completed before arrival at port and the completed form must be sent to DFO after each fishing trip. 

15. Vessel Monitoring System

Licence holders must use an active Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) approved by DFO. Data transmission is required every 15 minutes.

16. Discarding of white crab and adolescent crab

The discarding of white crab and juvenile crab (small claws) is allowed. These must be returned to the water, where they were captured, and if they are still alive, in a manner that causes them the least harm.

17. White crab Monitoring Protocol

Fishery closure as soon as 20% of captures at sea for 14 consecutive days are soft-shell crab.

18. Simultaneous fishing:

During a fishing trip or several different fishing trips, the holder of valid Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut or Cod  licence conditions who also holds valid snow crab licence conditions, can conduct both fisheries simultaneously if the Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut or Cod fishery is conducted in subareas 4S1, 4S3, 4S4, 4T3a or 4T4.

19. Vessel

Licence holders may use a boat with a length less than 19.81 m.

A fisherman wishing to rent a boat must first inform the other licence holders of the fishing fleet. No vessel rental will be allowed with commercial fishing license holders living outside the Gaspe Peninsula area.

20. Partnership (Buddy-up)

A temporary buddy-up of two licence holders is authorized, provided both license holders are on board the boat used during all fishing operations. The maximum number of traps authorized will be equal to 150% of the number of traps authorized under the valid Management plan and the Administrative Guidelines. A temporary buddy-up may be renewed annually, and both Participants may not avail themselves of this opportunity for more than five years (consecutive or not).

21. Quota reconciliation

In compliance with the Notice to Fish Harvesters issued on March 17, 2011, DFO applies quota reconciliation for snow crab in Area 12B since the 2011 season. Thus, any individual quota overrun incurred by a licence holder in a season will be deducted, from his individual quota for the following season by a one-to-one ratio. It is the responsibility of licence holders to track their quotas to ensure that catches taken in the course of their fishing operations comply with the quotas allocated to them. The licence holders will be notified of the reconciliation of their individual quota by means of an information note attached to their Conditions of licence.

22. Species At Risk Act

Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act, no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture, take, possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual or any part or derivate of a wildlife species designated as extirpated, endangered or threatened. 

At the time this Conservation Harvesting Plan is promulgated, the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence species susceptible to being captured are the following: the Spotted Wolffish, the Northern Wolffish, the Leatherback Turtle and the Striped Bass (St. Lawrence River population). New species could be added during the course of the year.

All incidental captures of species identified above must be immediately returned to the water where they were captured and, if the animal is still alive, in the manner that causes it the least harm. All incidental captures of species at risk must be recorded in the « Species at Risk » section of the logbook. Furthermore, all interactions with species at risk, notably the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Blue Whale (Atlantic population), the Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population) and the White Shark (Atlantic population), must be recorded in this section of the logbook. 

These requirements are additional to any obligation to declare an interaction with a marine mammal using the prescribed form (see section Marine mammal interaction reporting).

23. Conditions of Licence

To obtain their Conditions of licence, licence holders must access the National Online Licensing System. For National Online Licensing System assistance, please contact customer support by phone at 1-877-535-7307 or by email at

Approved by:

Maryse Lemire

Fisheries Management Regional Director

Fisheries and Oceans Canada


For any questions regarding this CHP

You may call at 1-877-898-5559


Date modified: