Notices to Fish Harvesters

Snow Crab - 16

Conservation Harvesting Plan - 2019



Season 2019 

Approved March 26, 2019

Amended April 5, 2019 

1       Application  

This Conservation-based harvesting plan (CHP) applies to the snow crab licence holders of area 16.

2       Fishing Area 

The area 16 is defined as the section in crab fishing area 16 marked off by the coast and straight lines connecting the following points in the listed order: 

                              North Latitude             West Longitude 

        1. 49º 19' 00"                   67º 22' 52.3"

        2. 49º 19' 00"               65º 41' 30"

        3. 49º 51' 50.4"            64º 31' 26.1"

        4. 49º 28' 48"               62º 19' 48"

        5. 49º 52' 00"               61º 50' 30"

        6. 50º 11' 30"               61º 50' 30" 

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       Permanent closure of fishing areas 

Coral and Sponge Conservation Areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence: 

On December 15, 2017, fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) 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 those conservation areas.  

For more information or to consult the maps of the eleven coral and sponge conservation areas, please visit the DFO’s dedicated website at the following address:

4       Fishing season 

Opening and closure dates: April 9, 2019 at 5:00 a.m. (EDT) July 15, 2019 at midnight (24:00) (EDT) (dates subject to change). 

Duration of the season: 14 weeks starting on the opening date according to the Variation order.

A committee of representatives from the industry and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will be responsible for confirming the opening date. Forecasts of air temperatures below 0 ºC for the first week of fishing or ice conditions may delay the opening. The opening date will be confirmed by a Variation Order, following an agreement by the committee.  

Also, it should be reminded that during the period where fishing is authorized, it is the responsibility of the captain to acquaint himself with the marine safety notices published among others 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. 

No season extension will be granted, except for circumstances out of Industry or DFO’s control.

5       Number of licences and access 

Area 16 regroups 51 fishing licences for snow crab, including 15 licences held by First Nations organizations and communities. Licence holders for snow crab in area 16 are distributed between administrative groups A, B, and C.

6       Quotas 

The 2019 Total Allowable Catch (TAC) is established at 3 100.8 tons, which is a 15% decrease compared with that of last year. The sum of the individual quotas following the application of the reconciliation adds up to 3 072.4 tons for the 2019 season. 

The initial TAC is distributed as follows: 

Group A:                    Group A’s 36 licences give access to a total of 2 874.4 tons (92.7% of the overall allocation), without consideration to reconciliation, in the form of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) as defined in the administrative list. 

Groups B and C:      Groups B and C’s 15 licences give access to a total of 226.4 tons (7.3% of the overall allocation), without consideration to reconciliation, in the form of individual transferable quotas (ITQs) as defined in the administrative list.

7       Management regime 

Individual transferable quotas (ITQ) program. 

The Administrative Guidelines of the ITQ Program for Group A (2011-2012) and Groups B and C (2010-2012) are renewed according to the terms and conditions described in the Notice to Fish Harvesters concerning the transitional measures for the 2019 fishing season. The Notice to fish harvesters is available on the DFO Quebec region’s website at the following address:

8       Fishing Gear 

8.1      Number of authorized traps: 

Group A:                   100 standard traps or 200 Japanese traps.  

Groups B and C:      35 standard traps or 70 Japanese traps. For licence holders who benefit from temporary transfers of more than 8 000 kg, the use of 50 standard or 100 Japanese traps is allowed. 

All crab traps must be equipped with a biodegradable release mechanism as described in the Conditions of licence

8.2      Tagging 

All traps used for fishing must bear a single valid annual tag, with a unique identification number. Licence holders must obtain their tags from suppliers approved by DFO, whose list is available at the following address: 

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

8.3      Gear soaking time 

It is the licence holder’s responsibility to make sure the soaking time of his/her fishing gear never exceeds 72 consecutive hours.

9       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: 

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 whale 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 the following address: 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      Areas subject to the temporary closure protocol (dynamic zones) 

No changes have been made to the boundaries of the dynamic zones. 

If one or more whales are observed in an area subject to the temporary closure protocol, DFO will close fishing grids that are used, among other things, for closing the snow crab fishery according to the soft shell crab protocol.  

A maximum of nine grids may be closed for 15 days from the date that the individuals are observed. 

In this case, quadrilateral closures will only be implemented beyond the 20 fathom limit. 

9.5.1    Shallow waters (less than 20 fathoms or 36.5 m) 

In 2019, non-tended fixed gear fisheries in waters less than 20 fathoms (36.5 m) will be subject to temporary closures only when right whales are seen in these areas. 

If a whale is seen at depths between 20 and 10 fathoms, a temporary closure will be put in place up to a depth of 10 fathoms. Licence holders will then be required to move their fishing gear close to the coast and will be allowed to continue fishing in waters shallower than 10 fathoms. 

If a whale is seen at depths of less than 10 fathoms, the area around the whale will be temporarily closed up to the coast.  

9.5.2    Observations outside static and dynamic zones 

Observations will be considered on a case-by-case basis, with particular attention to observations of three or more whales, or of a mother and her calf. 

9.6      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.). 

For additional information:  

You can obtain additional information about the right whale at the following address:

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 prior to Departure 

Hail-out is mandatory and must be made before 19:00 the day before departure.

12    At-sea Observer 

At sea observer coverage is distributed as follows: 

At-sea observer coverage will be increased to 15% upon reaching a rate of 10% of soft-shell crab in at-sea catches.

13    Soft-shell and adolescent crab 

The fishery will close upon reaching a percentage of 20% of soft-shell crab in at-sea catches. 

Industry and DFO representatives will form a committee to insure dissemination of information regarding soft-shell crab catch rates. 

Soft-shell and adolescent (small claws) crab release is allowed, as stipulated in the Conditions of licence. These must be returned to the water, where they were captured and, if still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm.

14    Dockside Monitoring 

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

A hail-in must be made at least 30 minutes before reaching port.  

Dockside monitoring is mandatory for 100% of landings. 

Landings must be made in one of the designated dockside monitoring ports, whose list can be found at the following address:

15    Catch and effort data declaration 

15.1   Combined form / 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. 

15.2   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 arriving at port. 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.

16    Vessel Monitoring System 

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:

17    Simultaneous fishing 

During a fishing expedition or several different fishing expeditions, the licence holder/vessel operator who holds valid Conditions of licence for Greenland Halibut and valid Conditions of licence for Snow Crab can fish for those species simultaneously if fishing for Greenland Halibut is carried out in sub-areas 4S1, 4S2 or 4T4.

18    Boat 

Licence holders may use a boat within the prescribed length as stipulated in the rules for vessel replacement, thus: 

Group A:                   a maximum length under 19.81 m  

Groups B and C:     a maximum length under 15.24 m  

Snow crab licence holders of area 16 group A are not allowed to lease a boat owned by a licence holder of area 16 groups B or C and vice versa.

19    Quota reconciliation 

DFO has been applying quota reconciliation in snow crab Area 16 since 2011. Thus, any individual quota overrun incurred by a licence holder in a season is deducted from his/her individual quota for the following season on a one-to-one ratio. Licence holders are responsible for monitoring their quotas to ensure that catches from their fishing activities fall within their allocations. Licence holders will be informed whether or not reconciliation has been applied to their individual quotas through an information note attached to their Conditions of licence.

20    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).

21    Conditions of licence 

To obtain their Conditions of licence, licence holders must log on to the National Online Licensing System (NOLS). These will be available through the NOLS following payment of the licence and at the latest 48 hours prior to the opening of the fishery. 

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 questions regarding this CHP 

You may call at: 1-800-463-1729  

For more information 

Please consult our website at:




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