Notices to Fish Harvesters

Snow Crab - 12A

Conservation harvesting plan - SNOW CRAB – AREA 12A – GASPE – LOWER ST. LAWRENCE


Approved, March 22, 2019


1. Application

This conservation harvesting plan applies to the fleet of snow crab licence holders in the area 12A, under the individual transferable quota (ITQ) system.


2. Fishing Area 

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


3. 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 Season

The fishing season will last 10 weeks.

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

Forecasts of air temperatures below 0 ºC for the first week of fishing and / or ice cover may delay the opening. An opening committee is in place. The opening date will be confirmed by a Variation Order following the final recommendation of the opening committee and an agreement on the opening date

It should be reminded that it is the responsibility of the captain to acquaint himself with the marine safety notices published by Environment and Climate Change 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 during the period where fishing is authorized.


5. Number of licences and access

9 licences.


6. Quotas

The 2019 total allowance of catch (TAC) is 105.5 tons, which is a status quo compared to the 2018 TAC. This corresponds to a harvest level identified by DFO that could result in a high exploitation level and lead to a decrease in biomass available for the fishery in 2020.In addition, this level is in line with Science advice.

A quota of 4.08 tons of the overall TAC is reserved to cover costs related to the post-season scientific survey of snow crab in Zone 12A. The Area 12A Crab Fishermen's Association (Forillon Group) will be responsible for the administrative management of the retained allocation, including requests for temporary quota transfers to ITQ holders. For more information, please contact your representative.


7. Management Regime

Individual transferable quotas (ITQ) program.

Administrative guidelines for ITQ programs are renewed according to the terms and conditions described in the Notice to Fish Harvesters regarding transitional measures for the 2019 fishing season. The Notice to Fish Harvesters is available on the DFO Quebec Region website at the following address:



8. Fishing Gear

Licence holders are allowed to use 75 standard traps.

Additional traps may be allocated following the approval of temporary or permanent transfers, as provided in the Administratives Guidelines.

A standard trap (maximum 2.1 m3) may be replaced by two conical base traps having a maximum circular diameter of 1.22 m.

All traps used for fishing must be equipped with a biodegradable release mechanism.

All traps used for fishing must be marked with a single annual valid tag with a unique identification number.

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

Licence holders will receive replacement tags, corresponding to 10% of the number of traps authorized, during their initial order. Other replacement tags may be available upon request.

Gear soak time:

It is the responsibility of Licence holders to lift their gear at least every 72 hours.


9. New Management Measures to Minimize the Risks of Interactions with the North Atlantic Right Whales

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

Since 2018, the following requirements are in place to minimize the length of rope floating on the surface of the water and 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.

9.2  Gear Marking

Licence holders using fixed gear must mark the rope used to attach a fishing gear to a primary buoy with a colour specific to the targeted species and to the fishing area in which they are authorized to fish. Implemented in 2018, this requirement is intended to facilitate the identification of the area where an entanglement has occurred. The following coloured markings are required for each fleet:


Colours for marking

Entry into force

Snow crab, area 12


Mandatory as of 2018

Snow crab, area 12E


Mandatory as of 2018

Snow crab, area 12F


Mandatory as of 2018

Snow crab, area 12A


Mandatory as of 2019

Snow crab, area 12B


Mandatory as of 2019

Snow crab, areas 12C, 13, 14, 15 et 16A


Mandatory as of 2019

Snow crab, area 16


Mandatory as of 2019

Snow crab, area 17


Mandatory as of 2019

Lobster (Gaspé and Magdalen Islands)

To be determined

Mandatory as of 2020


To be determined

Mandatory as of 2020

Other crab species

To be determined

Mandatory as of 2020


To be determined

Mandatory as of 2020


To be determined

Mandatory as of 2020


The rope used to attach a fishing gear to a primary buoy must bear these coloured markings that are 15 cm in length. Starting from the primary buoy, the coloured marking shall be permanently affixed every 27.4 meters (15 fathoms) along the rope attaching a fishing gear to a primary buoy. The requirements for shallow water fisheries will be clarified later.

The markings shall be made by using coloured twine or coloured tape:

The shade of the colour used for the markings shall contrast with the colour of the rope used to attach a fishing gear to a primary buoy.

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 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 shall be solid block Arabic numerals:

9.4  Requirement to report lost and retrieved gear

Since 2018, licence holders must report lost gear to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This 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.

Licence holders must report any lost fishing gear or the retrieval of any of their own previously reported lost gear to Fisheries and Oceans Canada by completing and submitting the Lost Fishing Gear form or the Retrieval of Previously Reported Fishing Gear form, available online at Retrieval of a fishing gear can only occur under a valid fishing licence and only in relation to the fishing gear authorized by the fishing licence.

The appropriate form must be completed and submitted within 24 hours of discovering that gear has been lost or within 24 hours of retrieving gear previously reported as lost. For fishing trips of less than 5 days in length, the appropriate form must be completed and submitted within 24 hours of arriving at port.

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 and 200 meters if the whale is accompanied by a calve. 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.).


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 that occur during fishing expeditions including: bycatch, collisions and all sightings of entangled marine mammals. 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.

A copy of the form is attached to the Conditions of licence and can also be downloaded and submitted online at the following address:

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 call

The hail out call prior departure must be placed before 19:00 the day before each fishing trip.


12. At-sea Observers 

The At-sea observers coverage is 10% of fishing trips made by the fleet, spread over the whole area and the fishing period.


13. Dockside Monitoring

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

A hail-in call is required before arriving at port.

Dockside monitoring is mandatory for 100% of landings.

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


14. Catch and effort data declaration

14.1              Electronic logbook

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 trip.

 14.2               Electronic logbook

The use of an electronic logbook (Elog) is optional in 2019 and will be mandatory as of 2020. Fish harvesters must use a client application approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the Quebec region for the form ELOG - Logbook - Traps (except lobster). Furthermore, fish harvesters must have obtained and installed their Elog Key in their client application in order to allow data transmission to the Department.

The Elog must be completed for each fishing expedition and “closed” before landing. A fishing expedition means a voyage that commences at the time a fishing vessel leaves a port to engage in fishing and terminates at the time fish caught during that period are offloaded. Hence, when a fisher goes back to port for a reason other than for offloading fish and leaves port again, the fishing expedition goes on until fish are offloaded.

To consult the list of client applications approved by the Department and to obtain you Elog key, visit Fisheries and Ocean’s web page at the following address:


To request a modification to data that has been transmitted to Fisheries and Oceans, you must communicate with the client support service at 1-877-535-7307.


15. 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:


16. Discarding of white crab and juvenile crab

The discarding ofwhite craband juvenile crab (small claws) is allowed. These mustbereturned to the water, where they were captured, and if they are still alive, in a manner that causes them the least harm.


17. White crab Monitoring Protocol

Fishery closure as soon as 20% of captures at sea for 14 consecutive days are soft-shell crab. 


18. Simultaneous fishing

During a fishing trip or several different fishing trips, the holder of valid Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut or Cod  licence conditions who also holds valid snow crab licence conditions, can conduct both fisheries simultaneously if the Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut or Cod fishery is conducted in subareas 4S1, 4S4, 4T3a or 4T4.


19. Vessel

Licence holders may use a boatwith a lengthless than15.24m. No vessel rental will be allowed with commercial licence holders living outside the Gaspe Peninsula area.


20. Partnership (Buddy-up)

A temporary buddy-up of two licence holders is authorized, provided both licence holders are on board the boat used during all fishing operations. The maximum number of traps authorized will be equal to the sum of the number of traps initially authorized to each of the two licence holders under the valid Harvesting Plan and the Administrative Guidelines. A temporary buddy-up may be renewed annually, and both licence holders may not avail themselves of this opportunity for more than five years (consecutive or not).


21. Quota reconciliation

DFO applies the quota reconciliation for snow crab in Area 12A. Thus, any individual quota overrun incurred bya licence holder in aseason will bededucted, from his individualquota forthe following season by a one-to-one ratio. It is the responsibility of licence holders to track their quotas to ensure that catches taken in the course of their fishing operations comply with the quotas allocated to them. The licence holder will be notified of the reconciliation of their individual quota by means of an information note attached to their Conditions of licence.


22. 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 at risk 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).


23. 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 questions regarding this CHP

You may call at 1-877-898-5559


For additional information

Please visit our website at the following address:

Date modified: