Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Upper and Middle North Shore - Competitive

Conservation Harvesting Plan - 2018





Approved July 21st, 2017 

Amended April 30th, 2018

1       Application 

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to the Upper and Middle North Shore fixed gear fleet of less than 19.81 m fishing Atlantic Halibut in NAFO divisions 4RST during the period from May 15, 2017, to May 14, 2018. When fishing is carried out in another NAFO division, the Conservation Harvesting Plan for that division applies. It is important to note that this CHP is subject to change following Departmental decisions. 

Directed fishing for any other groundfish species requires a separate harvesting plan.

2       Fishing areas 

The authorized fishing areas are: 

Ø  4R 

Ø  4S 

Ø  4T1 

Ø  4T2 ab 

Ø  4T3 ab            Except for part of the Miscou bank 

Ø  4T4 

Ø  4T6 

Ø  4T9 ab

3       Fishing closures

The protection of fish during the spawning period and in areas where there are concentrations of juveniles is a priority that the Department and the industry consider very important for cod stock recovery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The following conservation measures apply: 

Ø  Closure of all groundfish fisheries from April 1st to June 23rd in part of NAFO Division 4R off shore from St. George’s Bay and Port-au-Port Bay, which is a recognized spawning area;  

Ø  Permanent closure of groundfish fisheries from January 1st to December 31st in part of subdivision 4T3 (Miscou Bank), which is a recognized cod concentration area;  

Ø  Permanent closure of groundfish fisheries from January 1st to December 31st in subdivision 4T5 (Shediac Valley), which is a recognized juvenile area. 

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 seasons 

Fish harvesters’ organizations have agreed to divide fishing effort into two periods: a “summer fishery” for fish harvesters residing from Rivière-au-Tonnerre to Natashquan and a “spring fishery” for fish harvesters residing from Tadoussac to Sept-Îles.  

Summer fishery:      Fishing is authorized from 03h00 a.m. (EDT) on July 25th, 2017, to 03h00 p.m. (EDT) on July 26th, 2017.  

The fishery will be competitive and fish harvesters will have to remove their gear from the water before returning to the wharf. 

An individual maximum catch limit (IMCL) will apply for each participant to the fishery. The IMCL will be decided according to the anticipated number of participants and will be stipulated in Licence conditions

Depending on the landings registered during the fishing period, there may be a second fishing period.  

The fishing period may be changed depending on circumstances and management considerations, for example if there are industry requests, if the quota is reached or if there is a high probability of exceeding it.  

Spring fishery:          Fishing is authorized from May 1st 2018 at 5:00 (EDT) to May 3rd, 2018 at 18:00 (EDT). 

                                 The fishery is competitive and fish harvesters will have to remove their gear from the water before returning to the wharf.  

                                 An individual maximum catch limit (IMCL) applies for each participant to the fishery. This IMCL is of 1 930 kg of Atlantic  Halibut (round weight), which corresponds to 1 693 kg of eviscerated Atlantic Halibut. 

Depending on the landings registered during the fishing period, there may be a second fishing period. Would a second fishing period be necessary, only the fishermen having participated to the first fishing period and respected their IMCL will be eligible. 

The fishing period may be changed depending on circumstances and management considerations, for example if there are industry requests, if the quota is reached or if there is a high probability of exceeding it.  

The industry and the Department may jointly approve a management approach aimed at adapting fishing effort with a residual quota following the fishing period indicated above. 

5       Quotas 

The allocation of Atlantic halibut from divisions 4RST granted to the North Shore fixed gear fleet comes in part from the basic quota granted to the Gulf fleets of less than 19.81 m with fixed gear and in part from the allocation transferred from the mobile gear fleet to the fixed gear fleet, under the established sharing formula.  

On April 15th, 2016, under the coordination of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ), representatives of fixed gear groundfish licence holders associations have come to a sharing agreement for the global Atlantic Halibut quota granted to Québec’s three (3) geographic fleets. This agreement was recognized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It confirms an adjustment to the shares of Quebec geographic fleets on the basis of the global quota of 502.18 t granted to these three geographic fleets and their relative shares from the 2015-2016 Quebec allocation. 

The first 502.18 t are distributed as follows: 

- Québec North Shore = 92.54 t (18.4277 %); 

- Gaspésie = 336.16 t (66.9401 %); 

- Magdalen Islands = 73.48 t (14.6322 %). 

Any additional allocation granted to Quebec fleets with fixed gear will be shared according to the same percentages.  

For the 2017-2018 season, the total quota allocated to the three Quebec geographic fleets corresponds to 617.861 t. The sharing of this quota then corresponds to: 

- North Shore = 92.54 t + (115.681 t x 18.4277 % = 21.317 t) = 113.857 t; 

- Gaspésie = 336.16 t + (115.681 t x 66.9401 % = 77.437 t) = 413.591 t; 

- Magdalen Islands = 73.48 t + (115.681 t x 14.6322 % = 16.923 t) = 90.407 t. 

In accordance with the permanent sharing agreement of the North Shore fixed gear fleet under competitive regime, the 2017-2018 initial allocation of the North Shore (113.857 t) is attributed at 54 % to the Upper and Middle North Shore (UMNS) fleet, and at 46 % to the Lower North Shore (LNS) fleet. 

Thus, the allocation granted to the UMNS fleet is of 61,483 t. In accordance with quota reconciliation, a quantity of 2.219 t corresponding to the overrun incurred in the 2016-2017 management year is deducted from the 2017-2018 allocation. Thus, the 2017-2018 Atlantic halibut quota granted to UMNS fixed gear fleet is of 59.264 t 

Of this allocation, 6.264 t are put aside to cover for Atlantic halibut bycatches in other groundfish directed fisheries, leaving 53.000 t for the directed fishery. 

The fishing of the Upper and Middle North shore allocation remains under a competitive management regime for the 2017-2018 fisheries management cycle. Other management regimes could be considered for the years to come

6       Management regime 

Competitive management regime with an individual maximum catch limit (IMCL). It is not possible to trade, cumulate, transfer or carry-over this IMCL. 

The IMCL will be established upon the available allocation and the anticipated number of participants to this fishery and will be stipulated in the Licence conditions.

7       Fishing gear 

Summer fishery:       Longline with a maximum of 500 hooks that must have an opening equal to or greater than 15.4 mm.  

Spring fishery:          Longline with a maximum of 1 000 hooks that must hawe an opening equal to or greater than 15.4 mm 

To limit the risks posed by the latent fishing effort under a competitive fishery regime associated with groundfish licences that have not been active for many years, the number of hooks authorized for the Atlantic Halibut fishery is limited for groundfish licences of the Upper and Middle North Shore delivered before May 15th, 2012, and for which no landings under an Atlantic Halibut directed fishery have been recorded in the past 10 years. Holders of such licences will be authorized a maximum number of gear equal to 15% of the number of gear listed above.  

Fishing gear must be removed from the water before returning to the wharf.  

It is prohibited to have more fishing gear on board than the maximum permitted for the fishery. 

8       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: 

8.1      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:  

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

·        No rope attaching a longline to a primary buoy shall remain floating on the surface of the water after the longline 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. 

8.2      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 longline. 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 color that contrasts with the buoy’s color. 

8.3      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. 

8.4      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.). 

9       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.

10    Hail prior to departure 

Hail out is mandatory for all participants. 

Licence holders/operators must call the DFO hail out system at 1-800-561-2467 or 1-902-464-8103 (satellite) by 19:00 the night before any fishing trip.

11    At-sea observers  

Industry-funded at-sea observer program applies to a minimum coverage of 10% of fishing trips.

12    Dockside monitoring 

The Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) is mandatory for 100% of landings.  

Licence holders must have signed an at-sea hail and fish landing agreement with a company designated by DFO-Quebec Region before leaving on a fishing trip. 

Landings must be done at a designated port which appears on the list published on DFO’s website at the following address:

13    Combined form 

Fishermen 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 on each fishing day.

14    Incidental catches 

By-catch is defined as the round weight (entire fish) of a by-catch species divided by the round weight (entire fish) of the directed species, in this case, Atlantic Halibut. 

While directing for 4RST Atlantic Halibut, the authorized percentages of groundfish by-catch are: 

Ø  Cod:                                    The greater of 30% or 45 kg per fishing trip. 

Ø  Greenland Halibut:              3% per fishing trip. 

Ø  White Hake:                        5% per fishing trip. 

Ø  Shark:                                 The lesser of 10% or 500 kg per fishing trip. The licence holder must hold the licence conditions authorizing shark by-catch. 

Ø  Other groundfish species: 10% per fishing trip. 

If bycatch limits per fishing trip are exceeded, the fishery may be closed and legal proceedings may be initiated.

15    Small fish protocol 

The minimum size of fish under the small fish protocol is:  

Ø  Cod                                      43 cm 

Ø  American Plaice                   30 cm

Ø  Witch Flounder                     30 cm 

Ø  White Hake                          45 cm 

Ø  Winter Flounder                   25 cm 

Ø  Yellowtail Flounder              25 cm 

Ø  Atlantic Halibut                    85 cm 

Ø  Greenland Halibut               44 cm 

Ø  Redfish                                22 cm 

Possession of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 cm is prohibited. All specimens of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 cm must be returned to the water immediately and, if the fish is still alive, handled in a manner that causes it the least harm.  

Areas may be closed to fishing for the fleet or parts of the fleet when the number of undersized fish reaches 15% of the catch of any of the above-mentioned species.

16    Catch monitoring and test fishery 

Small fish and by-catch closures due to high catch levels are for a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of conducting all test fisheries is borne by the industry. If a fishery is closed, it will remain closed until DFO determines that it can be effectively monitored and controlled. If any particular fishery is closed twice during the same year because of high levels of by-catch or small fish, it may remain closed for the remainder of the year.

17    Boat 

Except under exceptional circumstances, vessel lease outside of the North Shore and use of a vessel over 15.20 m are not authorized.

18    Conversion rate 

In the Atlantic Halibut fishery, a conversion rate of 1.14 is used to convert the weight of eviscerated catches to round fish weight.

19    Quota reconciliation 

Groundfish quota reconciliation applies to the current fishing season. As such, quota overruns incurred during a fishery management year will be deducted by a one-to-one factor from next year’s quotas.

20    Other management measures 

Except under exceptional circumstances, fish harvester replacement is not authorized. 

If an individual or fleet is suspected of un-authorized dumping and discarding of groundfish at sea, the industry-funded at-sea observer coverage may be increased in addition to other regulatory options, including fisheries closures and legal proceedings. 

It is not authorized to fish any other species simultaneously while directing fishing activities on Atlantic Halibut.

21    Species at Risk Act 

Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act (SARA), 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 Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic species targeted by these measures are the following ones: Spotted wolffish, Northern wolffish, Leatherback Turtle, Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population) and Great White Shark (Atlantic population). New species could be added in the course of the year.  

All by-catch of species identified above must be returned to the water and released in the exact capture location and, if the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm. In addition, information regarding interactions with species at risk, including species mentioned above as well as the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Blue Whale (Atlantic population) and the Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population) must be recorded in the Species at risk section of the logbook. 

22    Licence conditions 

To obtain their Licence conditions, licence holders must log on to the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) and place a request. Valid Licence conditions 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:

Note: In case of discrepancies between the English and the French versions, the latter prevails. 

Approved by: 

Isabel Calderón 

Act. Area director 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada  

North Shore 

For questions regarding this harvesting plan 

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

North Shore area

418-962-6314 or 1-800-463-1729 


Mathieu Morin

Resource Manager

Daniel Dickner

Area Chief, North Shore and Northern Québec areas, Conservation & Protection




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