Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Gaspe-Lower St. Lawrence - Fixed Gear less than 13,71m - Competitive - Lobster Fishers Group A125


Approved July 4, 2018


1. Application

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for Atlantic Halibut applies to the Gaspe peninsula fixed gears fleet of less than 13.71 m licence holders of the Lobster fishers group fishing Atlantic Halibut fishing in the 4RST areas from May 15, 2018 to May 14, 2019.

Note that:


2. Fishing areas

Based on valid Conditions of licence and subject to a Variation Order, the authorized Atlantic Halibut fishing areas are 4RST.


Information regarding fishing areas is available on our website at: 


3. Permanent 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 the recovery of the cod stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The following conservation measures apply: 

































Note: The lines joining points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1 (in that order) represent the permanently closed area, which is part of the section known as the Miscou box.

The lines joining points 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 2 (in that order) represent the area open to the directed halibut fishery (green area) from June 24 to December 31.


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 seasons

The fishing periods below are in effect for the validity period of this CHP. They represent the maximum fishing periods, subject to, among other things, specific orders and closure periods. Therefore, openings may vary depending on particular circumstances and fisheries management considerations, including industry demand and TAC announcements, whereas closures can be expected in particular when quotas have been reached or when the probability of exceeding them is high. Exact periods will be confirmed through Notices to fishers or Variation Orders.

Eligible license holders who have indicated their interest may participate in one of the 3 targeted fishing periods for the first opening.

1st opening period:


5. Quotas

The allocation of Atlantic halibut from divisions 4RST granted to the Lobster fishers” group corresponds in part from the basic quota granted to the Gulf fleets of less than 19.81 m with fixed gear and from the allocation of the mobile gear fleet transferred to the Gaspe fixed gear fleet, under the established sharing formula.

On April 15, 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 agreed to a sharing agreement for the global Atlantic halibut quota of the three Quebec 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 Coast = 92.54 t (18.4277 %);

- Gaspe = 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 2018-2019 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 Coast = 92.54 t + (115.681 t x 18.4277 % = 21.317 t) = 113.857 t;

- Gaspe = 336.16 t + (115.681 t x 66.9401 % = 77.437 t) = 413.597 t;

- Magdalen Islands = 73.48 t + (115.681 t x 14.6322 % = 16.927 t) =90.407 t. 

According to the permanent sharing agreement between the fixed gear fleet of 13.71 m and over and the fleet of less than 13.71 m from Gaspe, respectively established to 63.5%: 36.5%, the allocation of the fleet of less than 13.71 m corresponds to 150.963 t.

Based on the permanent sharing agreement of the fleet of less than 13.71 m, the part granted to the licence holders from the Lobster fishers” group corresponds to 27.75 % of this allocation, which is of 41.892 t. Considering the carry-forward of the 2017-2018 uncaught residual of 3.4 t, the initial 2018-2019 allocation is 45.292 t.

An allocation of 45.292 t is alloted to the directed fishery and to the cover the group’s bycatches during other groundfish fisheries, and 100 kg are allotted to the touristic commercial fishery project of the Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG).


6. Management regime

Competitive regime with an individual maximum catch limit (IMCL). It is not possible to trade, cumulate, transfer or carry-over this IMCL. This IMCL will be established upon the available allocation and the number of licence holders that will have filed their interest to participate to this fishery.

Should there be a second opening period, a draw would be made by the RPPSG among the licence holders who participated to the first opening. An IMCL will then be established considering the remaining allocation and the determined number of participants.

The RPPSG is responsible for the application of the following supplementary management measures: 

For fisheries under a competitive regime with individual maximum catch limits (IMCL), it is the licence holder’s responsibility to insure its catches fall within its IMCL by adapting the fishing efforts accordingly.


7. Fishing gear

The specifications for fishing gear authorized for the directed fishery are:

Longline with a maximum of 1500 hooks that must have an opening equal to or greater than 15.4 mm.


8. New management measures to minimize the risks of interactions with the North Atlantic Right Whale

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

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

From 2019, licence holders will be required to mark the rope used to attach a longline to a primary buoy with a colour specific to the fishing area in which they are authorized to fish. This new requirement will help officials to better identify the sectors where a NARW may have become entangled. The layout and color marks associated with each fishing area will be communicated later.

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 fishing gear. 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 must be solid block Arabic numerals:


Requirement to Report Lost Gear


Starting in 2018, licence holders must 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 hours period following the end of the fishing trip during which the loss of the fishing gear was noted, or within a 24 hours period following the 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) sequential number indicated on the primary buoy attached to each lost fishing gear;

g) latitude and longitude of the last 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 "Marine Mammal Emergencies" 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. Hail-out

Licence holders are required to contact the vessel hail-out system before 19:00 the day before each fishing trip.


10. At-sea observers

Industry-funded at-sea observer coverage at a minimum of 10% applies to this group.


Prior to starting a fishing trip, the licence holder must have an agreement with a company designated by the Quebec Region of DFO with regard to at-sea observer coverage.


11. Dockside monitoring

The Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) applies to 100% of landings.

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

Landings must be made at designated ports from the list posted on the DFO Web site (


12. Combined form / Logbook / Purchase slip / Weight out summary

Fishermen must acquire their booklet of Combined Forms from a prequalified supplier, identified by DFO, whose list is available at the following address:, completed it according to the instructions specified in the document and provide it to the dockside observer, or any other person designated by DFO, at landing.

The logbook portion of this form must be properly completed each fishing day before docking.


13. Vessel Monitoring System

Not applicable.


14. Bycatch protocol

Bycatch is defined as the round weight of a bycatch species divided by the round weight of the target species.

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

Authorized groundfish bycatch limits per fishing trip: 


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

Greenland Halibut

3% per fishing trip for fishers who do not have an ITQ for this species.

White Hake

5% per fishing trip.


The lesser of 10% or 500 kg. At the time of landing and weighing, at least a portion of the tail fin must be attached to the shark's carcass. Also, the pelvic fins (the paired fins adjacent to the cloaca or “vent”) must be intact and attached to the carcass.

Other groundfish species

10% per fishing trip.


15. Small fish protocol

The minimum size of fish relative to the small fish protocol is:

·         Cod

43 cm

·         American Plaice 

30 cm

·         Witch Flounder

30 cm

·         White Hake

45 cm

·         Winter Flounder

25 cm

·         Yellowtail Flounder

25 cm

·         Greenland Halibut

44 cm

·         Atlantic Halibut

85 cm

·         Redfish         

22 cm

All catches of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 cm must be returned to the water immediately. When live fish are returned to the water, they must be handled in a manner that causes them the least harm possible.

Areas could be closed to fishing for the fleet or part of the fleet when the number of undersized fish reaches 15% of the catch of any of the above species.


16. Catch monitoring and test fisheries

Small fish and bycatch closures 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 not reopen until DFO feels that it can be effectively monitored and controlled. If a fishery is closed twice during the same year because of high levels of small fish or incidental catch, the fishery may remain closed for the remainder of the year.


17. Vessel

Vessels with an LOA less than 15.24 m may be used, regardless of cubic number.

In order to limit the potential latent fishing effort, no vessel rental will be authorized, unless exceptional circumstances. However, Aboriginal communities will be authorized to designate vessels from the competitive Gaspé fixed gear fleet of less than 13.71 m (members of the “Lobster fishers” group or the “Others” group).


18. Partnership

Not applicable.


19. Conversion ratio

 The following conversion ratio is used in order to convert the weight of eviscerated catches to round fish weight:


20. Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation provides that any overharvest of a quota in a given year, on an Individual Quota regime or in a competitive fishery, will be accounted for in that of the following fishing season. For example, quota overruns by a licence holder or by a fleet during a fishery management cycle will be deducted from quotas for the following season on a one-for-one basis.

In implementing quota reconciliation, the Department authorizes quota transfers, between fleets and groups to cover any quota overrun until a specific deadline, after which the Department compares the final fishery data. This deadline is the end of the groundfish fishery management year, that is, May 14. In the weeks following this deadline, the Department makes any necessary changes to quotas for the current year based on quota overruns, if applicable.


21. Carry forward of individual quotas

The carry forward of uncaught quotas from last year may be authorized in 2017-2018 up to a maximum of 15% of the basic quotas.


22. 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 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.


23. Other management measures

If an individual or fleet is suspected of dumping and discarding 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.


24. Species at Risk Act

Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act, no person must 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).


25. Conditions of licence

To obtain their Conditions of licence, fish harvesters 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 question regarding this CHP

You may call at 1-877-898-5559

For additional information

Please visit our website at the following address:


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



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