Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Magdalen Islands

Conservation Harvestion plan 2018


Approved June 27, 2018



This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for Atlantic Halibut applies to all licence holders of the fixed gear fleet less than 19.81 m from the Magdalen Islands when directing their fishing activities on Atlantic Halibut in Divisions 4RST from May 15, 2018 to May 14, 2019.

Note that:

Fishing areas

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

Information on fishing areas is available on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Web site at the following address:

Permanent fishing closures

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











Latitude (N)

Longitude (W)



























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:

Fishing seasons

Based on valid Conditions of licence and subject to a Variation Order, licence holders may participate to up to two (2) of the eleven (11) following fishing periods:







Period 1

July, 5

July, 11

Period 7

August, 16

August, 22

Period 2

July, 12

July, 18

Period 8

August, 23

August, 29

Period 3

July, 19

July, 25

Period 9

August, 30

September, 5

Period 4

July, 26

August, 1

Period 10

September, 6

September, 12

Period 5

August, 2

August, 8

Period 11

September, 13

September, 19

Period 6

August, 9

August, 15



Upon request of the industry, these periods could be extended following an analysis by DFO.

During the period where fishing is authorized, it is the responsibility of the captain to acquaint himself with the marine safety notices published by Environment Canada and Transport Canada, as well as with the standards and best practices in marine safety, and to take all measures necessary to insure a safe fishery.

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.

Number of licences and access

160 licence holders hold an access to the area 4RST Atlantic halibut quota for the fixed gear fleet from the Magdalen Islands.


The 4RST Atlantic Halibut quota granted to the fixed gear fleet from the Magdalen Islands is partly derived from the basic quota granted to the Gulf fixed gear fleets less than 19.81 m and partly from the allocation of the mobile gear fleet transferred to the fixed gear fleet, under the established sharing formulas.

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 arrangement of the global Atlantic Halibut quota of the three Quebec geographic fleets. This agreement was recognized by DFO. It confirms an adjustment to the shares of Quebec geographic fleets on the basis of the 502.18 t global quota 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:

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

In 2018-2019, the total quota allocated to the three Quebec geographic fleets corresponds to 617.861 t. Therefore, the sharing of this quota is:

Starting on management year 2018-2019, the access of 12 fish harvesters from the RPPUM (2.2 %) and the Atlantic Halibut fixed gear allocation from the Magdalen Islands (97.8 %) are pooled. Only one administrative list will be used.

Management regime

The management regime is individual quotas.

Fishing gear

Longlines with a maximum of 700 hooks with an opening equal to or greater than 15.4 mm. Longlines shall be removed from the water at the end of each fishing trip and before returning to port.

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 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 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 or a handline 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. 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 will be 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:

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-hour period following the end of the fishing trip during which the loss of the fishing gear was noted, or within a 24-hour period following an arrival at port if the fishing trip is not yet finished:

a)             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 number indicated on the primary buoy;

f) latitude and longitude of the last known position of each lost gear, if known; and,

g)             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 observe 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.).

Hail prior to departure

Hail out are mandatory.

Licence holder must contact the DFO hail out system by phone at 1-800-561-2467 or 1‑902-464-8103 (satellite) the day before each fishing trip before 7:00 pm.

At-sea Observer

The At-sea Observer Program, funded by the industry, applies to this group on the basis of a 10 % minimum coverage of the fishing trips.

Prior to the beginning of a fishing trip, the licence holder must have entered into a valid agreement with a company designated by DFO – Quebec Region with regard to at-sea observer coverage.

Dockside monitoring

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

Prior to the beginning of a fishing trip, the licence holders must have entered into an agreement with a company designated by DFO-Quebec Region with regard to at‑sea hail and fish landing.

Landings must be made in one of the designated ports from the list posted on DFO’s Web site at the following address:

All catches must be weighed on a scale upon landing.

Once offloaded and weighed, no fish can be reloaded in the fishing vessel.

Combined Form/Logbook/Purchase slip

Licence holder must acquire his 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.

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:


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

Greenland Halibut:

3 % per fishing trip;

White Hake:

5 % per fishing trip;


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

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.

Small fish protocol

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

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

Simultaneous fisheries

Lobster and Atlantic Halibut fishery are authorized simultaneously.

Catch monitoring and test fishery

Small fish and by-catch closures are for a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of test fisheries is borne by the industry. If a fishery is closed, it will not re-open 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 by-catch or small fish, it may remain closed for the remainder of the year.


The creation of partnerships and trios are authorized. The quantity of hooks authorized for partnerships and trios will be equal to the total hooks authorized for one licence holder plus 50 % for each additional fish harvesters up to a maximum of 3 licence holders onboard a same fishing vessel.

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.

Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation provides that any overharvest of a quota in a given year on an individual quota regime will be accounted for in the following fishing season, or following seasons if applicable. For example, quota overruns by a licence holder during a management year will be deducted from the licence holder’s quotas for the following year(s) on a one-for-one basis.

In addition, when fishing under an individual quotas regime, it is the responsibility of the licence holder to respect the quantity allocated.

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.

Other management measures

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

Temporary transfers

DFO authorizes temporary transfers of Atlantic Halibut individual quotas up to a maximum of 50 % of the initial quota of the licence holder who are subject to the owner-operator policy, within one fishing season.

Carry forward of individual quotas

The carry forward of uncaught Atlantic Halibut quotas from last year may be authorized in 2018-2019 up to a maximum of 15 % of the basic quotas.

Reassignment of Groundfish Licences

For the duration of the CHP, any reassignment of groundfish licences in the fleet of less than 19.81m (<65 ') with fixed gear under individual quotas for Atlantic Halibut in the Magdalen Islands will be permitted if the new licence holder is a resident, as defined in the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada 1996, of the Magdalen Islands sector.

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).

Conditions of licence

To obtain their Conditions of licence, licence holders must access the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) and place a requestbefore 11:59 pm on the Sunday preceding the selected fishing period (see page 3).

Valid Conditions of licence will be available for printing through the NOLS following payment of the licence and at the latest the day before the requested period.

For NOLS 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  

Please call 418-986-2095.





For additional information 

Please visit our website at the following address:


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