Notices to Fish Harvesters

Greenland Halibut (turbot) - 4RST - Lower North Shore - Zones 4RST (ITQ and outside the program)



Approved May 12, 2017

Amended, June 14, 2018



This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for Greenland halibut applies to all fixed gear groundfish licence holders associated with vessels less than 19.81 meters from Québec Region fishing Greenland Halibut in NAFO Divisions 4RST from May 15, 2017 to May 14, 2019. It is to be noted that this CHP is subject to changes following ministerial decisions or annual review.

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

The conservation measures during the fishery are as follows:


1. Fishing closures

Protection of spawning and of concentrations of Cod

The protection of fish during the spawning period and areas where there are concentrations of Cod is a priority that the Department and the industry consider very important for the rebuilding of Cod stocks in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The following conservation measures will apply:


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:


2. Fishing gear

The fishing gears that are authorized are gillnets or longline.


a) Gillnets

·              Number of gillnets with a maximum length of 50 fathoms subject to item 2c:

Ø     Fleets under the ITQ fishing regime from the Gaspé and Upper and Middle North Shore

Øa maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized.

Øfor fish harvesters with a partnership agreement, a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized per pair of fish harvesters.

Ø     Fleet under the competitive fishing regime :

                      - Gaspé less than 13.71 m

                      - Upper and Middle North Shore


Øa maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized;

Øfor traditional crab licence holders except Crab Fishing Area 12A licence holders or lobster licence holders from Gaspe Peninsula, a maximum of 60 gillnets or the amount indicated on the licence.

Ø     Fleet under ITQ fishing regime from the Lower North Shore

Øa maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized;

Øfor fish harvesters with a partnership agreement, a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized per pair of fish harvesters.

Ø     Fleet from the Lower North Shore non ITQ Program

Øa maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized.


      Minimum mesh size of 152 mm and maximum mesh size of 165 mm.

      Mandatory tagging of all gillnets applies in 4RST. All gillnets must be tagged with only one permanent valid tag before being put onboard the vessel for transport to the fishing site.

      Nets must be mounted to give a hanging ratio of 50%.

      Fish harvesters under Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) regime must only use gillnets configured with a maximum height of 20 meshes. This measure will progressively come into effect on the Lower North Shore, and all gillnets renewed from May 2016 must encounter this requirement.


b) Longline 

Subject to fishery management considerations, the use of longlines can be authorized only when the Atlantic Halibut fishery is opened and only to fish harvesters who are directing their fishing activities simultaneously for Greenland Halibut and Atlantic Halibut.


Subject to item 2c, the use of longlines is authorized with a maximum of 8,000 circular hooks which must have an opening equal to 12.6 mm except for the Gaspé fish harvesters under a competitive regime holding at least one traditional crab, except area 12A, or lobster licence who are authorized to use a maximum of 4,000 hooks with an opening equal to 12.6 mm.


c) Latent fishing effort


In  order to limit the risks relative to latent fishing effort associated with groundfish licences under a competitive regime that were not exploited for several years, the number of gillnets authorized for the Greenland Halibut fishery will, on a permanent basis, be limited to 10 and the number of hooks to 500 for groundfish licences whose gear number have not already been reduced according to the control of latent fishing effort and for which no landing of groundfish in directed fishery has been recorded over the last ten years.


3. 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 or a gillnet to a primary buoy with a colour specific to their fleet or to the fishing areas 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. Details about the placement and colour of the indicators required for each fishery will be communicated shortly.


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 or gillnet. 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:


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.). 


4. Allocations

The allocation for Québec’s fixed gear fleets corresponds to 82% of the allocation of the fixed gear fleet less than 19.81 m of the Gulf of St Lawrence. On the basis of a TAC of 3,375 t, the six fleets from Québec share an overall allocation of 2,330 t (including a 221 t temporary transfer coming from the less than 19.81 m mobile gear fleet) distributed according to the established sharing formulas:

·                Fleet under ITQ regime

1,858.9 t

·                Fleet under ITQ regime from the Lower North Shore

264.8 t

·                Fleet from the Lower North Shore non ITQ Program

14.0 t

·                Fleet less  than 13.71 m under competitive regime from the Gaspé

125.6 t

·                Fleet 13.71 m and greater under ITQ regime from the Gaspé (Others group)

44.1 t

·                Fleet under competitive regime from Upper and Middle North Shore

23.1 t


An allocation of approximately 3% is deducted from each competitive quota in order to cover Greenland Halibut by-catches during other groundfish species directed fisheries.


Note that fishery statistics for the current seasons will not be accounted for should a change in the competitive fishery management regimes occur.


5. Fishing seasons

The following seasons will be in effect for the duration of this CHP. They represent the maximum duration of fishing periods. Opening dates may vary according to particular circumstances such as industry requests and the TAC announcement while closing dates may be advanced according to factors such as the reach of quotas or when risks of exceeding them are high.

Opening and closing fishing dates of each fleet will be confirmed through usual communication means, particularly Notices to Fish Harvesters or Variation Orders.


6. By-catch limits

By-catch is defined as the weight of a by-catch species divided by the weight of the directed species, in this case, Greenland Halibut.

The by-catch limits1 of groundfish while directing for Greenland Halibut in 4RST are as follows: 

·              Cod

10% daily

·              White hake

5% daily

·              Shark

the least of 10% daily or500kg

·              Atlantic halibut

3% daily

·              Other species of groundfish

10% daily


1: The by-catch limits for the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of 13.71 meters and over under ITQ (Longliners and Others groups) are specified in the CHP for this fleet.

If daily by-catch limits are exceeded, the fishery could be closed and legal action could be taken.

For licence holders that will obtain an ITQ allocation of any groundfish species in 2018-2019, by-catch of those species will be deducted from the fish harvester's ITQ.


7. Small fish protocol

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



43 cm

American Plaice

30 cm

Witch Flounder

30 cm

White Hake

45 cm

Winter Flounder/Yellowtail

25 cm

Atlantic Halibut

85 cm

Greenland Halibut

44 cm


22 cm


Areas could be closed for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of any of the above species.

All catches of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 centimeters must be returned to the water immediately and, when the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm.


8. Hail out

The licence holder/vessel operator must contact DFO’s hail out system by phone at 1-800-561-2467 or 1-902-464-8103 (satellite) before 19:00 h the day before each fishing trip, except for licence holders/operators of the 13.71 m and over fleet under ITQ regime of the Gaspé who must contact the hail out system at least 12 hours prior departure for each fishing trip.


9. Observers coverage

Industry funded at-sea observer program for this fleet will apply at a minimum coverage level of 5% of the fishing trips, except for the longliner fleet and the fleet 13.71 m and over under ITQ regime from the Gaspé (Others) for which the minimum coverage is 15% of fishing expeditions.

Before the beginning of a fishing expedition, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with an at-sea observer company designated by DFO-Quebec Region. The complete list of designated at-sea observer companies is available on MPO website:


10. Combined form

The logbook portion of the Combined form must be completed daily. A Combined Form must be acquired from a Pre-qualified Supplier identified by DFO whose list is available at the following address: It must be completed according to the instructions specified in the document and submitted to the dockside monitoring company or to DFO within 10 days of landing. The logbook section of the Combined Form must be completed for each fishing day and before arriving to port..


11. Daily hail

Fish harvesters of the Gaspé less than 13.71 m fleet under competitive regime carrying out fishing trips longer than 30 hours must make a daily hail to declare daily catches during their fishing trip. These calls are not mandatory when an at-sea observer is on board the boat during the fishing trip.


12. Vessel monitoring system

Fish harvesters under competitive and ITQ regime shall use an active Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) approved by Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) signal transmission frequency should be set to 30 minutes.


13. Dockside monitoring

Dockside monitoring program (DMP) at 100% of the landings is mandatory.


Lower North Shore fish harvesters landing their catches in Newfoundland must communicate with DFO at one of the following number in order to register their landings as soon as reaching the wharf: 1-877-962-8222 or 1-877-962-8309.

Before the beginning of a fishing expedition, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with a company legally designated by DFO-Quebec Region for hail-ins and dockside monitoring. The complete list of designated companies can be found on DFO website:

Offloading must take place in one of the designated ports identified in the document entitled Designated dockside monitoring ports, available on the department’s website at the following address:


14. Catch monitoring and test fishery

Fishery closures due to small fish and excessive by-catch will have a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of conducting all test fisheries will be borne by industry. If a fishery is closed, it will not re-open unless DFO feels that it can be effectively monitored and controlled. If any particular fishery was closed twice during the year because of excessive by-catch or small fish, the fishery could remain closed for the remainder of the year.


15. Other management measures

The Department monitors the level of dumping and discarding of groundfish at sea. If a fleet sector or an individual is suspected of dumping and discarding groundfish at sea, the industry funded at-sea observer coverage could be increased in addition to other regulatory options, including fishery closures and legal proceedings.


16. Conversion rate

For landings in Quebec, a 1.05 rate will be applied to convert the partially gutted weight into round weight. On the other hand, a 1.10 rate will be applied to convert the gutted weight into round weight for landings in Newfoundland. 


17. Partnership

Partnerships between two groundfish licence holders for the Greenland Halibut fishery is authorized for fish harvesters under ITQs from the same fleet. Both license holders shall be onboard and are authorized to use a maximum number of 120 gillnets per team. The partnership must be submitted to DFO at least 5 working days prior to the first fishing expedition and, except for exceptional reasons, the partnership is effective for the entire fishing season of the species concerned. In addition, unless there are exceptional reasons, DFO will not deliver replacement authorizations to license holders involved in such agreement. The landings will be accounted against each of the IQ following their prorate. The two licence holders will be held jointly responsible for illegal acts committed during fishing activities, if any. 


18. Exclusivity of participation

Unless for exceptional circumstances, no vessel leasing will be permitted between the different fishing fleets except between the fleet under individual transferable quota (ITQ) regime and the fleet 13.71 m and greater under ITQ regime from the Gaspé (Others) during a same management year.

Furthermore, no rentals or vessel transactions shall be allowed with commercial fishing licence holders residing outside the Québec Region. 


19. Simultaneous fishing

Simultaneous Greenland Halibut gillnet fishing and Atlantic Halibut longline fishing may be authorized under certain conditions, licence holders must refer to the Conditions of licence.

However, fish harvesters must hold valid Conditions of Licence for this simultaneous fishery. 


20. Soak time

The period of time between the setting and the lifting of a fishing gear must not exceed 72 hours. 


21. Quota reconciliation

In accordance with quota reconciliation, any overharvest of a quota in one year, on an IQ or in a competitive fishery, is deducted on a one-to-one basis of the established quota for the season next.

Quota reconciliation will facilitate the management of all fisheries and promote the observance of harvest limits. Quota reconciliation will help achieve the conservation objectives for the resource, ensure that overruns by a fleet/harvester do not affect the others, and provide industry with an increased responsibility in meeting conservation objectives.

Implementing quota reconciliation, the Department authorizes quota transfers in order to allow individuals or fleets to cover quota overruns until a limit date after which the department will compare final fishing data. This date corresponds to the end of the groundfish management year, May 14. Furthermore, during the month following this date, the department will bring necessary adjustments to the quotas of the current year by considering competitive quota and ITQ overruns if the need arises.

In addition, within an individual transferable quota regime, it is the fish harvesters’ responsibility to respect the quantity granted (ITQ) while taking into consideration transfers and landings. The fish harvesters shall take the necessary arrangements to cover any quota overrun from previous fishing trips, if applicable, before departing for another fishing expedition and to have the necessary quota to cover the expected catches. 


22. Carry forward of quotas

With reference to the Notice to fish harvesters issued on May 3, 2017, the carryforward of residual quotas from 2016-2017 may be authorized in 2017-2018 up to a maximum of 15% of the basic quotas.

No carry-forward of 2017-2018 residual quotas will be authorized in 2018-2019. 


23. 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. 


24. 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 mammals 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


For additional information

You can obtain additional information on our website at http://www.qc.dfo-


Approved by:

Maryse Lemire

Fisheries Management Regional Branch

Fisheries and Oceans Canada


Date modified: