Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Gaspe-Lower St. Lawrence - Fixed Gear 13.71m and over - ITQ - Others Group

Conservation Harvesting Plan

Approved May 21, 2019


1.    Application

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for Atlantic halibut, Greenland halibut and Cod applies to the groundfish licence holders of the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of 13.71 metres and over belonging to the Gaspé Longliners group and to the Others group, when conducting Atlantic halibut fishing activities in Divisions 4RST, Greenland halibut in Divisions 4RST and Cod (including allocations transferred from the mobile gear fleet of Group B) in Divisions 3Pn4RS from May 15, 2019 to May 14, 2021.

It should be noted that:

2.    Fishing Areas

Based on valid Conditions of licence and subject to a Variation Order, the authorized fishing areas are the following:

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

Protecting fish during their spawning period and in areas where there are concentrations of juveniles is a priority that the Department and the industry consider very important for the recovery of the Cod stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The following conservation measures apply:
































 Note: The lines joining points 1, 2, 3, 4 and 1 (in that order) show the permanently closed area (red area), known as the Miscou box.

The lines joining points 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 2 (in that order) show the area open to the directed halibut fishery (green area) from June 24 to December 31. 

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:

3.4       Temporary closure for Atlantic Halibut directed fishery

Licence holders are advised of the continued temporary closure of part of the 4T division, considering the excessive by-catch of cod previously observed. This area will remain closed until further notice, and is bounded by straight lines delineated by the following points:

1.          49°02’00" N   64°10’00" W

2.          48°31’00" N   62°37’00" W

3.          48°23’00" N   63°08’00" W

4.          48°46’00" N   64°10’00" W

5.          49°02’00" N   64°10’00" W

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. 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.    Quotas

4RST Atlantic halibut

The Atlantic halibut allocation from Divisions 4RST granted to the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of 13.71 m and over is derived in part from the basic quota granted to the Gulf fixed gear fleets of less than 19.81 m and from the allocation of the mobile gear fleet transferred to the Gaspé fixed gear fleet, under the established sharing formula.

On April 15, 2016, under the coordination of the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ), representatives of fixed gear groundfish licence holders associations have agreed to a sharing agreement for the global Atlantic halibut quota of the three Quebec geographic fleets. This agreement was recognized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It confirms an adjustment to the shares of Quebec geographic fleets on the basis of the global quota of 502.18 t granted to these three geographic fleets and their relative shares from the 2015-2016 Quebec allocation.

The first 502.18 t are distributed as follows:

- Québec North Coast = 92.54 t (18.4277 %);

- Gaspe = 336.16 t (66.9401 %);

- Magdalen Islands = 73.48 t (14.6322 %).

Any additional allocation granted to Quebec fleets with fixed gear will be shared according to the same percentages.

For 2019-2020, the total quota allocated to the three Quebec geographic fleets corresponds to 709.528 t. The sharing of this quota then corresponds to:

- North Coast = 92.54 t + (207.348 t x 18.4277 % = 38.209 t) = 130.749 t;

- Gaspé = 336.16 t + (207.348 t x 66.9401 % = 138.799 t) = 474.959 t;

- Magdalen Islands = 73.48 t + (207.348 t x 14.6322 % = 30.340 t) = 103.820 t. 

According to the permanent sharing agreement between the Gaspé fixed gear fleets of 13.71 m and over and of less than 13.71 m, respectively established to 63.5%:36.5%, the allocation of the fleet of 13.71 m to 301.599 t.

Based on the permanent sharing agreement of the 13.71 m and over fleet, the part granted to the licence holders from the Gaspé Longliners group corresponds to 86.89% of this allocation, ie 262.060 t, whereas the part allocated to the Others group corresponds to 13.11%, ie 39.539 t.

Greenland halibut

The allocation for fixed gear fleets from Quebec corresponds to 82% of the allocation of the fixed gear fleet under 19.81 m from the Gulf, to which is added a temporary transfer from the mobile gear fleet under 19.81 m, distributed according to the sharing formula in effect, amongst the following fleets:

Based on the permanent sharing agreement of the 13.71 m and over fleet, the part granted to the licence holders from the Gaspé Longliners group corresponds to 94.9875% of this allocation, ie 28.960 t, whereas the part allocated to the Others group corresponds to 5.0125%, ie 1.528 t.

In addition, licence holders from the Gaspé Longliners and the Others groups are also authorized to receive temporary ITQ transfers on an individual basis from groundfish ITQ holders from the mobile gear fleet from Group B.

4T Cod

The commercial Cod fishery in Division 4T is under a moratorium. Cod bycatches by the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of 13.71 m and over count towards the allocation reserved for all groundfish fleet bycatches in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

6.    Management Regime

ITQ management regime for Atlantic halibut 4RST, Greenland halibut 4RST, Cod 3Pn4RS and Cod 4T.

Administrative guidelines for ITQ programs are renewedaccording 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 specifications for fishing gear authorized for the following directed fisheries are:

Atlantic halibut

Greenland halibut


A maximum number of 120 gillnets with a minimum mesh size of 152 mm and a maximum of 165 mm, hung so that the hanging ratio is 50%. As of May 15, 2013, fish harvesters under the individual transferable quota regime for Greenland halibut must exclusively use gillnets configured to have a maximum of 20 meshes vertically. 

Mandatory tagging of all gillnets applies in 4RST. All gillnets must be tagged with only one permanent valid tag before being put onboard the vessel for transport to the fishing site.


The handline is defined as a single line to which are attached a weight and baited hooks or feather hooks.

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 longline or gillnet or a handline. 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- out

The licence holder must contact the hail-out system at least 12 hours prior to departure on each fishing trip.

11.At-sea Observer

The industry-funded At-Sea Observer program is applicable to this fleet with a minimum coverage of 15% of fishing trips targeting Greenland halibut and 20% of fishing trips targeting Atlantic halibut and Cod.

The licence holder must have made an agreement with regard to at-sea observer coverage with a company designated by DFO's Quebec Region, prior to starting a fishing trip.

If a fleet or an individual is suspected of dumping and discarding groundfish at sea, in addition to other regulatory options, including fisheries closures and legal proceedings, the industry-funded at-sea observer coverage may be increased.

12.Dockside Monitoring

The Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) must be applied to 100% of landings.

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

Landings must be made at designated ports from the list posted on the DFO website (

13.Combined form / Logbook / Purchase slip

Fishermen must acquire their booklet of Combined Forms from a prequalified supplier, identified by DFO, whose list is available at the following address:, completed it according to the instructions specified in the document and provide it to the dockside observer, or any other person designated by DFO, at landing.

The logbook portion of this form must be properly completed each fishing day before docking.

14.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. The maximum position recording interval is established as 30 minutes. Data, including position data, must be transmitted at a maximum interval of 60 minutes.

The current list of DFO-approved VMS units and the procedure and form to register a VMS unit are available at the following address:

15.Incidental Catches

Bycatches are determined by the round weight of the species caught accidentally, divided by the round weight of the target species.

Authorized groundfish bycatch limits, per fishing trip: 



3Pn4RS Cod

4T Cod

4RST Atlantic Halibut

4RST Greenland Halibut

4T Hake


Other groundfish species

Targeted species

3Pn4RS Cod

Not applicable

Fishing using hooks with an opening less than 15.4 mm: 40%

Fishers with no ITQ for this species: 5%



4T Cod

4RST Atlantic Halibut

Between April 1 and June 23: 30%


Not applicable

4RST Greenland Halibut


Between April 1 and June 23: 10%


Fishing using hooks with an opening less than 15.4 mm: 40%

Not applicable

4RST Greenland Halibut





Fishers must make sure they hold the ITQs required to cover the bycatch that will likely be caught during their fishing trips.

If bycatch limits per fishing trip are exceeded, the fishery could be closed and legal action may be taken.

16.Small fish protocol

The minimum size of fish within the small fish protocol is:

·         Cod

43 cm

·         American plaice 

30 cm

·         Witch flounder

30 cm

·         White hake

45 cm

·         Winter flounder

25 cm

·         Yellowtail flounder

25 cm

·         Greenland halibut

44 cm

·         Atlantic halibut

85 cm

·         Redfish         

22 cm




All Atlantic halibut under 85 cm must immediately be returned to the water. When live fish are returned to the water, they must be handled in a manner that causes them the least harm possible.

Areas may be closed to fishing for the fleet or part of the fleet when the number of undersized fish reaches 15% of the catch of any of the above species.

17.Simultaneous fisheries

The licence holder/vessel operatorwho holds Greenland halibut, Atlantic Halibut or Cod Conditions of licence, and also valid snow crab Conditions of licence can conduct both fisheries simultaneously, during a same fishing trip or different fishing trips, if fisheries are conducted in the following areas and subareas:

The licence holder/vessel operator can, under valid Conditions of licence for these species, fish for the following groundfish species in the same sub-area and during a same fishing trip:

The licence holder/vessel operator can, under valid Conditions of licence for these species, fish for the following groundfish species in the same Subarea and during different fishing trips:

18.Catch monitoring and test fisheries

Small fish and bycatch closures are for a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of conducting all test fisheries is borne by the industry. If a fishery is closed, it will remain closed until DFO determines that it can be effectively monitored and controlled. If a fishery is closed twice during the same year because of high levels of small fish or incidental catch, the fishery may remain closed for the remainder of the year.


Vessels with an LOA less than 19.81 m can be used, regardless of their cubic number.

Except under exceptional circumstances, only the rental of vessels between licence holders of the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of 13.71 m and over will be authorized for the Atlantic halibut and Cod fishery.

20.Partnership (combining of licences)

Not applicable.

21.Conversion Rate

The following conversion factors are applied in order to convert the weight of gutted fish catches into round fish weight:

·         Atlantic halibut:


·         Greenland halibut:

1.05 (partially gutted – landed in Quebec)

1.10 (gutted – landed in Newfoundland)

·         Cod:



22.Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation provides that any overharvest of a quota in a given year, on an Individual Quota regime or in a competitive fishery, will be accounted for in that of the following fishing season. For example, quota overruns by a licence holder or by a fleet during a fishing management cycle will be deducted from quotas for the following season on a one-for-one basis.

In implementing quota reconciliation, the Department authorizes quota transfers, enabling fleets and fishers to cover any quota overrun until a specific deadline, after which the Department compares the final fishery data. This deadline is the end of the groundfish fishery management year, that is, May 14. In the weeks following this deadline, the Department makes any necessary changes to quotas for the current year based on overruns of competitive quotas and the ITQ, if applicable.

In addition, for fishing under individual transferable quotas (ITQ or I(t)Q), it is the responsibility of the licence holder to adhere to the quantity allocated, taking transfers and landings into consideration. If applicable, the fisher must also make any arrangements required to cover any quota overruns that occurred during previous fishing trips before embarking on a new fishing trip, and must hold the quota necessary to cover the catches that will be made during said trip.

23.Other Management Measures

Gear soak time

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

Carry forward of individual quotas

The carry forward of uncaught Atlantic halibut quotas from last year is authorized in 2019-2020 up to a maximum of 15% of the basic quotas.

24.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).

25.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 1-877-898-5559

For additional information

Please visit our website at the following address:

Date modified: