Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Gaspe-Lower St. Lawrence - Fixed Gear less than 13,71m - I(t)Q - Association des morutiers traditionnels de la Gaspésie

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Québec– March 15, 2018 


The Gulf of St. Lawrence is an ecosystem where dozens of marine mammal species are present. Seals, dolphins and whales of all sizes are sometimes present in large numbers in your fishing areas and may occasionally interact with your gear or fishing vessels. 


To comply with the requirements of the U.S. Marine Mammals Protection Act (MMPA), updated in 2016 by the United States government to come into effect in 2022, it is essential that these interactions be reported, documented and quantified. To guarantee that fish products have access to the U.S. markets, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) must implement procedures to reliably certify that the level of mortality caused by fisheries does not exceed U.S. standards. DFO must also demonstrate that the regulations in place to reduce accidental death of marine mammals are comparable to those of the United States.


1.          How to report an interaction with a marine mammal or an observation of a dead or in-distress animal


Beginning in March 2018, it will be mandatory for all fishing licence holders to report any incident to DFO using the marine mammal interaction form.


For these purposes, we consider an interaction to be:

·       any collision between a marine mammal and a vessel;

·       any incidental catch of a marine mammal in fishing gear; and

·       any observation of an animal, dead or alive, entangled in ropes between fishing gear.


In addition, if you see a dead or in-distress animal, please contact “Marine Mammal Emergencies” at 1‑877‑722‑5346 as soon as possible. When possible, do not hesitate to take photos or video to help DFO assess the situation and confirm the identification of the species.


2.           New Management Measures to Reduce the Risk of Interaction with North Atlantic Right Whales


Following right whale deaths that occurred during the 2017 fishing season, DFO is announcing new management measures for Quebec fisheries beginning in March 2018. These new measures aim to reduce the risk of interaction with this species considered to be endangered under the Species at Risk Act.


These new measures include:

·       Prohibition to leave a rope floating on the water surface attached to a trap, a longline, a gillnet or a trap with a primary buoy;

·       When secondary buoys are used, the maximum rope length to the principal buoy may not exceed 6.4 metres (3.5 fathoms), with the exception of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Snow Crab Fishing Areas (12, 19, 12E and 12F), where this distance is reduced to 3.7 metres;

·       Mandatory report of all lost gear to DFO. The email address must be used to report information about lost fishing gear within 24 hours of your arrival in port.

·       Identification of ropes connecting fishing gear to a principal buoy with colour indicators specific to fishing areas on a voluntary basis beginning in 2018 for certain fisheries with the exception of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Snow Crab Fishing Areas (12, 19, 12E and 12F) where this measure will be mandatory.  This measure will be mandatory for all beginning in the 2019 season. Details about the placement and colour of the indicators required for each fishery will be communicated shortly. 


In addition, if you see a North Atlantic Right Whale, it is important to keep a minimum distance of 100 metres from the animal. Details about sightings of live, free-swimming right whales can be reported to DFO at the email address: or by telephone at 1‑844‑800‑8568.


If you see this species, please send us your contact information and information about the sighting (date, time, geographic position, number of whales, etc.). If possible, you may also send us photos or videos.


If you see a right whale entangled in fishing gear, you must not under any circumstance attempt to free the whale yourself. The behaviour of an entangled whale is unpredictable and dangerous. You must contact the “Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network” as soon as possible at 1‑877‑722‑5346 to report the information to help a group of experts organize an appropriate response (time, position of entangled animal, animal’s behaviour, weather and sea conditions, etc.).


For more information

You will find more information about management measures and fishing areas on our website at


For more information please contact:


Magdalen Islands:418‑986‑2095

North Shore: 1‑800‑463‑1729

Gaspé–Lower St. Lawrence: 1‑877‑898‑5559

Regional Office: 418‑648‑5883


Antoine Rivierre

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Québec, Quebec


Caroline Leclerc

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Gaspé–Lower St. Lawrence (Quebec)


Mathieu Morin

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

North Shore (Quebec)


Josée Richard

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Magdalen Islands (Quebec)













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