Notices to Fish Harvesters

Snow Crab - 12F

Conservation Harvesting Plan - Snow Crab – Area 12F



Approved, April 04, 2018

1. Application


This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) of snow crab of area 12F applies to traditional fish harvesters and to eligible fish harvesters in accordance with temporary allocation program holding a snow crab license for Area 12F from Quebec and the Gulf Regions.

2. Fishing Area


In part of Crab fishing area 12 (12F) delimited by the straight lines joining the following points in the order listed:



47º 50' 00'' N

61º 08' 27'' W


47º 26' 45'' N

61º 00' 00'' W


47º 30' 00'' N

60º 43' 20'' W


47º 32' 12'' N

60º 42' 15'' W


47º 18' 30'' N

60º 18' 00'' W


47º 21' 30'' N

60º 16' 00'' W


47º 44' 30'' N

60º 25' 15'' W


48º 02' 30'' N

61º 07' 00'' W


47º 58' 30'' N

61º 07' 30'' W


47º 50' 00'' N

61º 08' 27'' 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. Permanent fishing closures

The fishery remains prohibited in a buffer zone that separates Areas 12F and 19.


4. Fishing Season

Forecasts predicting air temperature below 0 ºC for the first week of fishing and / or ice cover may delay the opening. An opening committee of industry and DFO is in place. The opening date will be confirmed by a Notice to Fish Harvesters and a Variation Order 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 Canadaamong 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

Traditional: 10 licences in the Quebec region and 6 licences in the Gulf region.

Temporary allocations: 23 licences and Magdalen Islands lobster industry part in Quebec region and 11 accesses for Nova-Scotia associations and First Nations.

6. Quotas

A sharing arrangement of the TAC is in place between the traditional fleet and to the eligible fish harvesters from the Quebec Region new access fleet and to multi-species organizations from the Gulf Region representing independent Core fish harvesters. According to this sharing arrangement, the excess of a threshold of 544 t, is shared on a ratio of 60%-40% to the traditional fleet and the temporary allocations respectively. Also, the traditional shares, 68.75% for Quebec Region and 31.25% for Gulf Region, are applied to the temporary allocations.


Total allowable catch (TAC) for 2018 has been set at 1158.09 tons. The traditional fleet has access to 912.45 tons (which gives 627.31 tons for the Québec Region and 285.14 tons for the Gulf Region) while 245.64 tons are allotted to temporary allocations holders (which gives 168.87 tons for the Québec Region and 76.76 tons for the Gulf Region).

7. Management Regime

Individual transferable quotas (ITQ) program

The terms for ITQ management which are contained in the Administrative Guidelines of the ITQ Program are renewedaccording 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 is available on the DFO Quebec Region website at the following address:


Temporary transfers of ITQ

DFO authorizes quota temporary transfers of up to 50% of regular licence holders subject to the owner-operator policy within one fishing season. 


8. Fishing Gear

Number of authorized traps

Licence holders are allowed to use 75 standard traps. Additional traps may be allocated following the approval of temporary or permanent transfers, as provided in the Administratives Guidelines.


The maximum number of traps authorized for temporary allocation is as follows:


Less than or equal to 11.34 t (25 000 pounds):

35 traps

Between 11.34 t and 18.14 t (25-40 000 pounds):

50 traps

Between 18.14 and 31.75 t (40-70 000 pounds):

65 traps

Above or equal to 31.75 t (70 000 pounds):

75 traps



Trap mesh size


Maximum trap mesh size is 75 mm.


Trap tagging

All traps used for fishing must be marked with a single annual valid light brown tag with a unique identification number. Licence holders must obtain their tags from suppliers approved by DFO; a list is available at the following address: Licence holders will receive pale blue replacement tags, corresponding to 10% of the number of traps authorized, during their initial order. Other replacement tags may be available upon request.

Biodegradable release mechanism

All traps used for fishing must be equipped with a biodegradable release mechanism.

Gear soak time

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 and to reduce the risks of whale entanglements:


-    The total cumulative length of rope between a primary buoy and a secondary buoy shall not be more than 3.7 meters (2 phantoms).


-    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 rope used to attach a crab trap to a primary buoy with a color specific to the fishing area in which they are authorized to fish. This new gear marking requirement will help officials to better identify the sectors where incidents have occurred in the in the event of future entanglements. Blue colored markings are required for crab fishing area 12F.




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 as to be capable of individually identifying each crab trap.


This additional requirement will help identify and retrieve lost gear and could also help identify the sector where a whale 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 thei.


Requirement to Report Lost Gear

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


The following specific information must be reported by email to DFO at for licence holders from Québec region and for licence holders from Gulf region, within 72 hours of noticing that the gear has been lost:


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 for the Quebec Region or the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) at 1-886-567-6277 for the Gulf Region 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. Protocol for the dynamic management of the fisheries

DFO will implement a protocol for the dynamic management of the fisheries in 2018 which will close areas to fishing activities when the presence of NARW is observed. This protocol will allow DFO to close specific areas to fishing activities to prevent incidents with NARW, such as entanglements. DFO will use the existing soft shell/white crab grids to close areas due to the presence of NARW.


Observations inside areas subject to temporary closures

When at least one NARW is observed inside areas subject to temporary closures (see map below), a total of nine grids will be closed to provide a buffer area around the sighting location to account for whale movements.   


Closing and reopening of the areas

Closures will be in force for a minimum period of 15 days and will be extended by 15 days from the last NARW sighting. If NARWs are not seen during at least two aerial surveillance flights during the 15 days period, the dynamic closure for the relevant sections will be automatically lifted at the end of the period. Closures will be regulated through variation orders and licence holders will be provided an advance notice of 48 hours to retrieve fishing gear from the area prior to closure.    


Map indicating areas subject to temporary closures



11. 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 for the Quebec Region and the Marine Animal Response Society (MARS) at 1-886-567-6277 for the Gulf Region. If possible, do not hesitate to take photos or videos that will allow DFO to assess the situation and identify the species.

12. Hail out call


The hail out call prior departure must be placed at least 12 hours before leaving for each fishing trip.

13. At-sea Observers


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

14. 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: for licence holders from Quebec Region.


A hail-in call is required at least 1 hour before arriving 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: licence holders from Quebec Region. For licence holders from Gulf Region, the list of designated ports is identified in licence conditions.

15. Combined Form


Licence holders must acquire their booklet of Combined Forms from a prequalified supplier, identified by DFO.


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

16. Vessel monitoring system (VMS)


Licence holders must use an active Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) approved by DFO. Data transmission is required every 5 minutes.

17. Discarding of white crab and juvenile crab


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

18. White crab Monitoring Protocol


A protocol for soft shell crab by sector is in place.

19. Vessel


Fishermen may use a boatwith a maximum lengthless than19.81 m (65 feet).

20. Partnership (Buddy-up)


Partnership agreements (buddy up) are authorized: Two area 12F regular license holders (traditional fleet) may use a same vessel, with 100% of the traps of one licence holder and 50% of the traps of the other licence holder. An Area 12F license holder from Quebec may, upon request and subject to various conditions, use the vessel of an Area 12 license holder from Quebec to fish in Area 12F.

21. Quota reconciliation


DFO applies the quota reconciliation for snow crab in Area 12F since the 2011 season. Thus, any individual quota overrun incurred bya licence holder in aseason will bededucted, from his individualquota forthe 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.

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 418-986-2095


For additional information


Please visit our website at the following address:







Date modified: