Notices to Fish Harvesters

Greenland Halibut (turbot) - 4RST - Quebec - Fixed Gear less than 19,81m QIT (General)

Conservation Harvesting Plan

Approved May 27, 2019

1.    Application

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for Greenland halibut applies to all fixed gear groundfish licence holders associated with vessels less than 19.81 meters from Québec Region fishing Greenland Halibut in NAFO Divisions 4RST from May 15, 2019 to May 14, 2021. It is to be noted that this CHP is subject to changes following ministerial decisions or annual review.

Directed fishing for any other groundfish species will require a separate harvesting plan.

2.    Fishing Areas


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.    Fishing closures

3.1       Protection of fish during spawn and cod concentrations

The protection of fish during the spawning period and areas where there are concentrations of Cod is a priority that the Department and the industry consider very important for the rebuilding of Cod stocks in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The following conservation measures will apply:  


3.2    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:

3.3       Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area

On March 6, 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada created, jointly with the Quebec government, the Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area (MPA) in order to the ensure the conservation and protection of this marine ecosystem.

Provisions of the Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area Regulations apply to licence holders. In order to comply with them, please refer to the clauses that apply to your fishing activities:

4.    Fishing seasons

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.

    • May 15 to October 31

    • April 1 to May 14

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

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.    Allocations

The allocation for Québec’s fixed gear fleets corresponds to 82% of the allocation of the fixed gear fleet less than 19.81 m of the Gulf of St Lawrence. On the basis of a TAC of 3,375 t, the six fleets from Québec share an overall allocation of 2,330 t (including a 221 t  temporary transfer coming from the less than 19.81 m mobile gear fleet) distributed according to the established sharing formulas: 

·         Fleet under ITQ regime

1,858.9 t

·         Fleet under ITQ regime from the Lower North Shore

264.8 t

·         Fleet from the Lower North Shore non ITQ Program

14.0 t

·         Fleet less  than 13.71 m under competitive regime from the Gaspé

125.6 t

·         Fleet 13.71 m and greater under ITQ regime from the Gaspé (Others group)

44.1 t

·         Fleet under competitive regime from Upper and Middle North Shore

23.1 t

An allocation of approximately 3% is deducted from each competitive quota in order to cover Greenland Halibut by-catches during other groundfish species directed fisheries.

Note that fishery statistics for the current seasons will not be accounted for should a change in the competitive fishery management regimes occur.

6.    Management Regime

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:

7.    Fishing Gear

The fishing gears that are authorized are gillnets or longline. 

  1. Gillnets 

·      Number of gillnets with a maximum length of 50 fathoms subject to item 2c:

Ø   Fleets under the ITQ fishing regime from the Gaspé and Upper and Middle North Shore

Ø   a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized.

Ø   for fish harvesters with a partnership agreement, a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized per pair of fish harvesters.

Ø   Fleet under the competitive fishing regime :

-          Gaspé         less                 than 13.71 m

-          Upper and Middle North Shore


Ø   a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized;

Ø   or traditional crab licence holders except Crab Fishing Area 12A licence holders or lobster licence holders from Gaspe Peninsula, a maximum of 60 gillnets or the amount indicated on the licence.

Ø   Fleet under ITQ fishing regime from the Lower North Shore

Ø   a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized;

Ø   for fish harvesters with a partnership agreement, a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized per pair of fish harvesters.

Ø   Fleet from the Lower North Shore non ITQ Program

Ø   a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized.


b) Longline

Subject to fishery management considerations, the use of longlines can be authorized only when the Atlantic Halibut fishery is opened and only to fish harvesters who are directing their fishing activities simultaneously for Greenland Halibut and Atlantic Halibut.

Subject to item 2c, the use of longlines is authorized with a maximum of 8,000 circular hooks which must have an opening equal to 12.6 mm except for the Gaspé fish harvesters under a competitive regime holding at least one traditional crab, except area 12A, or lobster licence who are authorized to use a maximum of 4,000 hooks with an opening equal to 12.6 mm.

 c) Latent fishing effort

In order to limit the risks relative to latent fishing effort associated with groundfish licences under a competitive regime that were not exploited for several years, the number of gillnets authorized for the Greenland Halibut fishery will, on a permanent basis, be limited to 10 and the number of hooks to 500 for groundfish licences whose gear number have not already been reduced according to the control of latent fishing effort and for which no landing of groundfish in directed fishery has been recorded over the last ten years.

8.    Management measures to minimize the risks of interactions with the North Atlantic Right Whale

Management measures to reduce interactions with North Atlantic Right Whales and to report any interactions with marine mammals are now in place in all Quebec fisheries. All the information on these measures has been published in the April 12th, 2019 Notice to Fish Harvesters, available at the following link:

The following requirements have been implemented in order to reduce the risk of entanglement of North Atlantic Right Whales:

8.1       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.

8.2       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.

8.3       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 gillnet or 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:

8.4       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.

8.5       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.).

9.    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.

10.Hail Prior To Departure

The licence holder/vessel operator must contact DFO’s hail out system by phone at 1-800-561-2467 or 1-902-464-8103 (satellite) before 19:00 h the day before each fishing trip, except for licence holders/operators of the 13.71 m and over fleet under ITQ regime of the Gaspé who must contact the hail out system at least 12 hours prior departure for each fishing trip.

11.Daily Hail

Fish harvesters of the Gaspé less than 13.71 m fleet under competitive regime carrying out fishing trips longer than 30 hours must make a daily hail to declare daily catches during their fishing trip. These calls are not mandatory when an at-sea observer is on board the boat during the fishing trip.

12.At-sea Observer

Industry funded at-sea observer program for this fleet will apply at a minimum coverage level of 5% of the fishing trips, except for the longliner fleet and the fleet 13.71 m and over under ITQ regime from the Gaspé (Others) for which the minimum coverage is 15% of fishing expeditions.

Before the beginning of a fishing expedition, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with an at-sea observer company designated by DFO-Quebec Region. The complete list of designated at-sea observer companies is available on MPO website:

13.Dockside Monitoring

Dockside monitoring program (DMP) at 100% of the landings is mandatory. 

Lower North Shore fish harvesters landing their catches in Newfoundland must communicate with DFO at one of the following number in order to register their landings as soon as reaching the wharf: 1-877-962-8222 or 1-877-962-8309. 

Before the beginning of a fishing expedition, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with a company legally designated by DFO-Quebec Region for hail-ins and dockside monitoring. The complete list of designated companies can be found on DFO website:

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

14.Combined form / Logbook

The logbook portion of the Combined form must be completed daily. A Combined Form must be acquired from a Pre-qualified Supplier identified by DFO whose list is available at the following address: It must be completed according to the instructions specified in the document and submitted to the dockside monitoring company or to DFO within 10 days of landing.

The logbook section of the Combined Form must be completed for each fishing day and before arriving to port.

15.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 30 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.Incidental Catches

By-catch is defined as the weight of a by-catch species divided by the weight of the directed species, in this case, Greenland Halibut.

The by-catch limits1 of groundfish while directing for Greenland Halibut in 4RST are as follows: 

·         Cod

10% daily

·         White hake

5% daily

·         Shark

the least of 10% daily or500kg

·         Atlantic halibut

3% daily

·         Other species of groundfish

10% daily


1: The by-catch limits for the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of 13.71 meters and over under ITQ (Longliners and Others groups) are specified in the CHP for this fleet. 

If daily by-catch limits are exceeded, the fishery could be closed and legal action could be taken. 

For licence holders that will obtain an ITQ allocation of any groundfish species in 2018-2019, by-catch of those species will be deducted from the fish harvester’s ITQ.

17.Small fish protocol

The minimum length of fish relative to the small fish protocol is



American Plaice


Witch Flounder


White hake


Winter Flounder/Yellowtail     


Atlantic Halibut


Greenland Halibut





Areas could be closed for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of any of the above species. 

All catches of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 centimeters must be returned to the water immediately and, when the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm.

18.Simultaneous fisheries

Simultaneous Greenland Halibut gillnet fishing and Atlantic Halibut longline fishing may be authorized under certain conditions, licence holders must refer to the Conditions of licence. 


However, fish harvesters must hold valid Conditions of Licence for this simultaneous fishery.

19.Soak time

The period of time between the setting and the lifting of a fishing gear must not exceed 72 hours.

20.Catch Monitoring and Test Fishery

Fishery closures due to small fish and excessive by-catch will have a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of conducting all test fisheries will be borne by industry. If a fishery is closed, it will not re-open unless DFO feels that it can be effectively monitored and controlled. If any particular fishery was closed twice during the year because of excessive by-catch or small fish, the fishery could remain closed for the remainder of the year.

21.Partnership (combining of licences)

Partnerships between two groundfish licence holders for the Greenland Halibut fishery is authorized for fish harvesters under ITQs from the same fleet. Both license holders shall be onboard and are authorized to use a maximum number of 120 gillnets per team. The partnership must be submitted to DFO at least 5 working days prior to the first fishing expedition and, except for exceptional reasons, the partnership is effective for the entire fishing season of the species concerned. In addition, unless there are exceptional reasons, DFO will not deliver replacement authorizations to license holders involved in such agreement. The landings will be accounted against each of the IQ following their prorate. The two licence holders will be held jointly responsible for illegal acts committed during fishing activities, if any.

22.Exclusivity of participation

Unless for exceptional circumstances, no vessel leasing will be permitted between the different fishing fleets except between the fleet under individual transferable quota (ITQ) regime and the fleet 13.71 m and greater under ITQ regime from the Gaspé (Others) during a same management year.

Furthermore, no rentals or vessel transactions shall be allowed with commercial fishing licence holders residing outside the Québec Region.

23.Conversion Rate

For landings in Quebec, a 1.05 rate will be applied to convert the partially gutted weight into round weight. On the other hand, a 1.10 rate will be applied to convert the gutted weight into round weight for landings in Newfoundland.

24.Quota reconciliation

In accordance with quota reconciliation, any overharvest of a quota in one year, on an IQ or in a competitive fishery, is deducted on a one-to-one basis of the established quota for the season next.

Quota reconciliation will facilitate the management of all fisheries and promote the observance of harvest limits. Quota reconciliation will help achieve the conservation objectives for the resource, ensure that overruns by a fleet/harvester do not affect the others, and provide industry with an increased responsibility in meeting conservation objectives.

Implementing quota reconciliation, the Department authorizes quota transfers in order to allow individuals or fleets to cover quota overruns until a limit date after which the department will compare final fishing data. This date corresponds to the end of the groundfish management year, May 14. Furthermore, during the month following this date, the department will bring necessary adjustments to the quotas of the current year by considering competitive quota and ITQ overruns if the need arises.

In addition, within an individual transferable quota regime, it is the fish harvesters’ responsibility to respect the quantity granted (ITQ) while taking into consideration transfers and landings. The fish harvesters shall take the necessary arrangements to cover any quota overrun from previous fishing trips, if applicable, before departing for another fishing expedition and to have the necessary quota to cover the expected catches.

25.Carry forward of quotas

No carry-forward of 2018-2019 residual quotas will be authorized in 2019-2020.

26.Other Management Measures

The Department monitors the level of dumping and discarding of groundfish at sea. If a fleet sector or an individual is suspected of dumping and discarding groundfish at sea, the industry funded at-sea observer coverage could be increased in addition to other regulatory options, including fishery closures and legal proceedings.

27.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, the Striped Bass (St. Lawrence River population) and exceptionally the White Shark (Atlantic 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).

28.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 question regarding this CHP you may call at:

North Shore office: 1-800-463-1729

Gaspe Peninsula - Lower Saint-Lawrence area: 1-877-898-5559

For additional information

Please visit our website at the following address:


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