Notices to Fish Harvesters

Snow Crab - 12B

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Announcement of management measures to minimize the risk of interaction with the North Atlantic right whale in 2019


Quebec – April 12th, 2019


Fisheries and Oceans Canada – Quebec Region informs the fishing industry of the  fisheries management measures to protect North Atlantic Right Whales (NARW) in Atlantic Canada and Quebec for the 2019 season. These measures were announced by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on February 7, 2019.


The management measures follow the model applied in 2018 and remain focused on preventing entanglements. They include the most recent scientific data available and take into account comments received from First Nations, external partners and the industry.


The main adjustments for the 2019 season include:


Static closure - Gulf of St. Lawrence


Areas subject to the temporary closure protocol (dynamic management areas)

·         No changes have been made to the boundaries of the dynamic management areas.

·         If one or more NARW 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 including a central grid where the NARW is sighted and up to eight adjacent grids may be closed for 15 days from the date when the individuals are sighted.

·         The closures are in effect for the following fisheries where the fishing seasons are opened: snow crab, toad crab, rock crab, lobster, whelk, Greenland halibut (fixed gear) and winter flounder (fixed gear). Closures are also in effect for Atlantic halibut (fixed gear), Mackerel (gillnets), and Herring (gillnets) when gears are left unattended.

·         If a NARW is sighted in waters deeper than 20 fathoms, quadrilateral closures will only be implemented beyond the 20 fathom limit.



Shallow waters (less than 20 fathoms or 36.5 m)

·         There will be lines defined by official coordinates to reflect as close as possible the 20 fathoms and 10 fathoms depth. For implementation purposes, official coordinates are calculated based on straight line distances drawn through the grids, so there may be slight fluctuations.

·         In 2019, non-tended fixed gear fisheries conducted in depths less than the 20 fathom (36.5 m) shallow water protocol line will be subject to temporary closures only when NARW are seen in these areas.

·         If a NARW is seen in waters between the 10 and 20 fathom shallow water protocol lines, a temporary closure will occur up to the 10 fathom shallow water protocol line. 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 NARW is seen in waters less than the 10 fathom shallow water protocol line, a temporary closure will occur up to the coast.


Closure and reopening protocol for the Dynamic Management areas:


·         Closures will be in force for a minimum period of 15 days, counted from the date of the NARW sighting, and will be extended by 15 days from the last NARW sighting. If NARWs are not seen during at least two aerial surveillance flights during the 15 day period, the dynamic closure for the relevant sections will be automatically lifted at the end of the period. Closures will be regulated through variation orders and licence holders will be provided an advance notice of 48 hours to retrieve fishing gear from the area prior to closure by the following methods:

o   Broadcasting the notice over a commercial or marine radio station, a radio station operated by DFO or a radio station located on a vessel under contract to DFO that broadcasts in the area or vicinity of the area affected by the closure notice; or

o   Transmitting the notice by electronic means to those persons;

o   Having a fishery officer or fishery guardian give oral notice thereof.


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 NARW, or of a mother and her calf. 


Other management measures for 2019

·         The management measures implemented in 2018 to minimize the amount of rope in the water and the prohibition on rope floating on the surface at all times remain unchanged in 2019, as well as the sequential numbering of buoys.

·         The requirement to mark fishing gear is maintained in the snow crab fishery, and will be extended to other fisheries in 2020.

·         Requirement to report lost and retrieved gear

o   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. (Report of gear retrieval is a new requirement)

o   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. (New timeframe)

·         Marine mammals interactions reporting

o   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.

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

o   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.



What to do if you observe a NARW ?

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:


For further information, please contact:


Magdalen Islands Area: 418-986-2095

North Shore Area: 1-800-463-1729

Gaspé–Lower St. Lawrence Area: 1-877-898-5559


Antoine Rivierre

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Québec, Quebec


Caroline Leclerc

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Gaspé–Lower St. Lawrence (Quebec)

Mathieu Morin

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

North Shore (Quebec)


Josée Richard

Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Magdalen Islands (Quebec)



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