Notices to Fish Harvesters

Snow Crab - 12C

Conservation Harvesting Plan - 2018


Snow crab – AREA 12C 

Season 2018 

Approved April 9th, 2018

1       Application 

This Conservation-based Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to the snow crab licence holders of area 12C, divided among administrative groups A and B.

2       Fishing area 

The area 12C is defined as the section in crab fishing area 12 marked off by the straight lines connecting the following points in the listed order:

     North Latitude                   West Longitude 

         49º 52’ 00"                     61º 30’ 30"

  1. 49º 05’ 00"                     61º 12’ 00"

  2. 49º 05’ 00"                     60º 00’ 00"

  3. 49º 25’ 00"                     60º 00’ 00"

  4. 49º 52’ 00"                     59º 30’ 00"

  5. 49º 52’ 00"                     61º 30’ 30"  

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

3       Permanent closure of fishing areas 

Coral and sponges conservation areas in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence:  

On December 15th 2017, fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) created eleven coral and sponges 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 prohibited in those conservation areas.  

For more information or to consult the maps for the eleven coral and sponges conservation areas, please visit the DFO’s dedicated website at the following address:

4       Fishing season 

Opening and closure dates (subject to change): 

Group A    A pilot project consisting of 2 different periods for the completion of the fishing operations is renewed for 2018. Snow crab licence holders in area 12C, group A, have the opportunity to choose between the two following options:  

Option 1:  

From April 11th 2018 at 5h (EDT) to July 17th 2018 at midnight (24h) (EDT); 

Option 2:  

From April 18th 2018 at 5h (EDT) to July 24th 2018 at midnight (24h) (EDT). 

Group B:   From April 18th 2018 at 5h (EDT) to July 24th 2018 at midnight (24h) (EDT). 

Duration of the season:   In all cases, the duration of the period of completion of the fishing operations is of 14 weeks. 

Industry and Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) representatives will form a committee responsible for confirming the dates for the beginning of the fishing activities. Forecasts of air temperatures below 0 ºC for the first week of fishing and/or ice conditions may delay the opening. 

The dates for the completion of the fishing activities will be confirmed by a Notice to Fish Harvesters at least 72 hours before the start of the fishery and a Variation Order following an agreement by the committee.  

Also, it should be reminded that during the period where fishing is authorized, it is the responsibility of the captain to acquaint himself with the marine safety notices published among others by Environment and Climate Change Canada and Transports Canada, as well as with the standards and best practices in marine safety, and to take all measures necessary to insure a safe fishery. 

No season extension will be granted, except for circumstances out of Industry or DFO’s control. 

5       Number of licences 

Area 12C regroups 38 snow crab fishing licences. Snow crab licence holders in area 12C are distributed between administrative groups A (5 licences) and B (33 licences). 

6       Allocations 

The 2018 Total allowable catch (TAC) is established at 256,4 tons, which is a 10% decrease compared with that of last year, and is consistent with scenario 1 of the DFO’s Science department’s perspectives. The sum of the individual quotas following the application of the reconciliation adds up to 253.6 tons for the 2018 season. 

The initial TAC is distributed as follows: 

Group A:        Group A’s 5 licences give access to a total of 176.2 tons (68.7% of the overall allocation), without consideration to the reconciliation, in the form of individual quotas (IQs) as defined in the administrative list. 

Groups B:      Groups B’s 33 licences give access to a total of 80.3 tons (31.3% of the overall allocation), without consideration to the reconciliation, in the form of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) as defined in the administrative list.

7       Management regime 

Group A:        Individual quotas (IQ) program. 

Group B:        Individual transferable quotas (ITQ) program. 

The Administrative Guidelines of the ITQ Program for Group B are renewed according to the terms and conditions described in the Notice to Fish Harvesters concerning the transitional measures for the 2018 fishing season, published March 12th 2018, and available on the DFO’s website at the following address:


8      Fishing gear

 Maximal number of traps authorized:  

Group A:        100 standard traps or 200 Japanese traps.  

Groups B:      75 standard traps or 150 Japanese traps.  

All crab traps must be equipped with a biodegradable release mechanism as described in Licence conditions

All traps used for fishing must wear a single valid yellow tag with a unique identification number. Please note that as of 2018, the use of annual tags is mandatory. 

Licence holders must obtain their tags from suppliers approved by DFO, whose list is available at the following address: 

Licence holders will receive replacement tags (color: light blue), corresponding to 10% of the number of traps authorized, upon initial order. Other replacement tags may be available upon request. 

Gear soaking time:   It is the licence holder’s responsibility to make sure the soaking time of his/her fishing gear never exceeds 72 consecutive hours. 

9       New management measures to minimize the risks of interactions with the North Atlantic Right Whale (NARW) 

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

9.1      Amount of Rope Floating on the Surface of the Water: 

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

9.2      Gear marking: 

Licence holders are required to mark the 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 measure is implemented on a voluntary basis in 2018. 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 fishing area: 

9.3      Additional Identification of Buoys: 

In addition to the current regulatory requirement to mark buoys with the vessel registration number (VRN), licence holders are 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:  

9.4      Requirement to Report Lost Gear: 

Starting in 2018, licence holders are 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 expedition during which the loss of the fishing gear was noted, or within a 24-hour period following an arrival at port if the fishing expedition 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. 

9.5      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 behavior 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 experts (time and position of the entangled animal, behavior of the individual, details on the weather and the state of the sea, etc.).

10    Marine mammal interaction reporting 

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 expedition. 

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 

Hail-out is mandatory and must be made before 19h the day before departure.

12    At-sea observer  

At-sea Observer coverage is of 10% of the fishing expeditions, at the expense of the industry.

13    Soft-shell and adolescent crab 

There will be a closure of the area upon reaching a rate of 20% of soft-shell crab in at-sea catches. 

Soft-shell and adolescent (small claws) crab release is allowed, as stipulated in Licence conditions. These must be returned to the water, where they were captured and, if still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm.

14    Dockside Monitoring 

Before the start of a fishing expedition, licence holders must have signed an agreement with a dockside monitoring company legally designated by DFO, whose list is available at the following address: 

Dockside monitoring is mandatory for 100% of landings. 

Landings must be made in one of the designated dockside monitoring ports whose list can be found at the following address:

15    Combined form 

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

16    Vessel monitoring system (VMS) 

The use of a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) approved by DFO is mandatory. Each licence holder must register his DFO-approved VMS unit prior to the beginning of his fishing activities. Data transmission every 15 minutes is required. 

The current list of DFO-approved VMS units and the procedure and form to register a VMS unit are available at the following address:

17    Boat 

Licence holders may use a boat within the prescribed length as stipulated in the rules for vessel replacement. A maximum length of 19.81 m applies to both group A and group B licence holders. 

Leasing of boats from outside the North Shore area will not be allowed.

18    Quota reconciliation 

DFO has been applying quota reconciliation in snow crab Area 12C since 2011. Thus, any individual quota overrun incurred by a licence holder in a season is deducted from his individual quota for the following season on a one-to-one ratio. Fish harvesters are responsible for monitoring their quotas to ensure that catches from their fishing activities fall within their allocations. Fish harvesters are informed whether or not reconciliation applies to their individual quotas through an information note attached to their Licence conditions.

19    Partnership agreement and temporary transfers 

The buddy-up system is authorized amongst licence holders of the same group and for no more than 2 licence holders per agreement. Licence holders involved in a partnership agreement are authorised to use the double number of traps individually authorized for their group. Landings are accounted for according to the pro rata of the individual quotas of the two fish harvesters involved in a partnership agreement. 

For the 2018 season, zone 12C group B licence holders are authorized to temporarily transfer among their group up to 25% of their individual quota, as stipulated in administrative guidelines. It is important to remember that licence holders must be on board the boat used to capture their quota or the part of it which has not been transferred. 

To take advantage of a partnership agreement or a temporary transfer, licence holders must place their request via the National online licencing system.

20    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).

21    Licence Conditions 

To obtain their Licence conditions, licence holders must log on to the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) and place a request. Group A request must indicate which season option (1 or 2) is chosen. Licence conditions according to the request will be available through the NOLS following payment of the licence and at the latest 48 hours before the opening of the fishery. 

For NOLS assistance, please contact customer support by phone at 1-877-535-7307, or by email at

Approved by: 

Maryse Lemire 

Regional Manager for fisheries management 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada 


For any questions regarding this CHP  

You may call at: 1-800-463-1729 

For more information 

Please consult our website at:


Date modified: