Notices to Fish Harvesters

Snow Crab - 16A

Conservation Harvesting Plan - 2019


Snow crab – AREA 16A 

Season 2019 

Approved April 11, 2019

1       Application 

This Conservation-based Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to the snow crab licence holders of area 16A.

2       Fishing area 

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

    North Latitude                       West Longitude 

  1. 49º 28' 48"                               62º 19' 48"

  2. 49º 52' 00"                        61º 50' 30"

  3. 49º 52' 00"                        61º 30' 30"

  4. 49º 05' 00"                        61º 12' 00"

  5. 49º 05' 00"                        61º 42' 00"

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 prohibited in those conservation areas.  

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

4       Fishing season 

Opening and closure dates (subject to change): 

A pilot project consisting of 2 different periods for the completion of the fishing operations is renewed for 2019. Snow crab licence holders in area 16A, have the opportunity to choose between the two following options:  

Option 1:  

From April 14, 2019 at 05 h (EDT) to July 20, 2019 at 23 h 59 (EDT); 

Option 2:  

From April 21, 2019 at 05 h (EDT) to July 27, 2019 at 23 h 59 (EDT). 

Duration of the season: 

In all cases, the duration of the period of completion of the fishing operations is of 14 weeks. 

Fishing seasons established in this CHP represent the maximum duration of fishing periods, subject to specific Variation Orders and closure periods, among other things. Thus, openings and closures may vary according to particular circumstances and fisheries management considerations. 

A committee composed of representatives from industry and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) will be established to confirm the dates for the beginning of the fishing activities. Forecasts of air temperatures below 0 ºC for the first week of fishing and/or ice conditions may delay the opening. The specific periods of fishing activities for the season will be confirmed by a Notice to Fish Harvesters or a Variation Order, following the conclusion of 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 16A regroups 36 snow crab fishing licences,including one licence held by First Nations organization or community.

6       Quotas 

The 2019 Total allowable catch (TAC) is established at 309.7 tons, which is a 25% decrease compared with that of last year, and is consistent with superior scenario (1) of the DFO’s Science department’s perspectives. The sum of the individual quotas following the application of the reconciliation adds up to 308.8 tons for the 2019 season.

7       Management regime 

Individual transferable quotas (ITQ) program. 

The Administrative Guidelines of the ITQ Program of the area 16A snow crab fleet 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 

8.1      Maximum number of traps authorized 

85 standard traps or 170 Japanese traps.  

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

8.2      Tagging of traps 

All traps used for fishing must wear a single valid 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 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

Lobster (North Shore)

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 crab trap (or crab trap series). 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      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 

Hail-out is mandatory and must be made before 19 h the day before each fishing expedition.

12    At-sea observer  

At-sea observer coverage is of 10% of the fishing expeditions, at the expense of the industry.

13    Soft-shell and adolescent crab 

There will be a closure of the area upon reaching a rate of 20% of soft-shell crab in at‑sea catches, if applicable. 

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: 

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    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 expedition.

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    Boat 

Licence holders of area 16A may use a boat with a maximum length of less than 19.81 m, as prescribed by the vessel replacement rules. 

Leasing of boats from outside the North Shore area will not be allowed.

18    Partnership 

The buddy-up system is authorized amongst area 16A licence holders, for no more than 2 licence holders per agreement. Licence holders involved in a partnership agreement are authorised to use the double number of traps individually authorized (170 standard traps or 340 Japanese traps). Landings are accounted for according to the pro rata of the individual quotas of the two fish harvesters involved in a partnership agreement. 

To take advantage of a partnership agreement, licence holders must place their request through the National online licencing system.

19    Quota reconciliation 

DFO applies quota reconciliation in snow crab Area 16A since 2011. Thus, any individual quota overrun incurred by a licence holder in a season is deducted from his individual quota for the following season on a one-to-one ratio. Fish harvesters are responsible for monitoring their quota to ensure that catches from their fishing activities fall within their allocation. Fish harvesters are informed whether or not reconciliation applies to their individual quota through an information note attached to their Conditions of licence.

20    Temporary transfers 

Please note that area 16A licence holders are authorized to temporarily transfer among themselves up to 25% of their individual quota, as stipulated in administrative guidelines. It is important to remember that licence holders must be on board the boat used to capture their quota or the part of it which has not been transferred. 

To make temporary transfers, licence holders must place their request through the National online licencing system (NOLS).

21    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).

22    Conditions of licence 

To obtain their Conditions of licence, licence holders must log-on to the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) and place a request. The request must indicate which season option (1 or 2) is chosen. Conditions of licence will be available through the NOLS following the payment of the licence and at the latest 48 hours before 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 visit our website at the following address:


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