Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Magdalen Islands



This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for Atlantic Halibut applies to all licence holders of the fixed gear fleet less than 19.81 m from the Magdalen Islands when directing their fishing activities on Atlantic Halibut in Divisions 4RST from May 15, 2019 to May 14, 2021.

Note that:

Fishing areas 

Based on valid Conditions of licence and subject to a Variation Order, the authorized Atlantic Halibut fishing areas are 4RST.

Information on fishing areas is available on Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Web site at the following address:

Permanent fishing closures

The protection of fish during the spawning period and in areas where there are concentrations of juveniles is a priority that DFO and the industry consider very important for the recovery of cod stocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The following conservation measures apply:

Permanent closure of all groundfish fisheries in part of NAFO Sub-Division 4T3 (Miscou Bank) recognized as a cod concentration area. However, a portion of Miscou Bank is open to the Atlantic Halibut fixed gear fishery from June 24 to December 31. Please refer to the map below or contact a Fishery Officer for more details.





Latitude (N)

Longitude (W)


























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 fishing 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:

Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area

On March 6, 2019, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) created, jointly with the Quebec government, the Banc-des-Américains Marine Protected Area (MPA) in order to conserve and protect 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:

Temporary closure for Atlantic Halibut directed fishery

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


Latitude (N)

Longitude (W)
















Fishing seasons

Based on valid Conditions of licence and subject to a Variation Order, licence holders may participate to up to two (2) of the eleven (11) following fishing periods:








Period 1

July, 4

July, 10

Period 7

August, 15

August, 21

Period 2

July, 11

July, 17

Period 8

August, 22

August, 28

Period 3

July, 18

July, 24

Period 9

August, 29

September, 4

Period 4

July, 25

July, 31

Period 10

September, 5

September, 11

Period 5

August, 1st

August, 7

Period 11

September, 12

September, 18

Period 6

August, 8

August, 14


Upon request of the industry, these periods could be extended following an analysis by DFO.

During the period where fishing is authorized, 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.

The fishing seasons established above are in effect for the 2019-20 fisheries management cycle of the present CHP. They represent the maximum periods of fishing, subject among others to Variation Orders and specific closing periods. Opening dates may vary according to particular circumstances and fishery management considerations, such as industry requests and 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. The accurate periods will be confirmed through Notices to Fish Harvesters or Variation Orders.

Number of licences and access

160 licence holders hold an access to the area 4RST Atlantic Halibut quota allocated to the fixed gear fleet from the Magdalen Islands.


The 4RST Atlantic Halibut quota granted to the fixed gear fleet from the Magdalen Islands is partly derived from the basic quota granted to the Gulf fixed gear fleets less than 19.81 m and partly from the allocation of the mobile gear fleet transferred to the fixed gear fleet, under the established sharing formulas. 


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 arrangement of the global Atlantic Halibut quota of the three Quebec geographic fleets. This agreement was recognized by DFO. It confirms an adjustment to the shares of Quebec geographic fleets on the basis of the 502.18 t global quota 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:

Any additional allocation granted to Quebec fixed gear fleets 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. Therefore, the sharing of this quota is:

Management regime

Management regime under individual quotas.

Fishing gear

Longlines with a maximum number of hooks, with an opening equal to or greater than 15.4 mm, according to the following tab:


Revised quota (including temporary transfers)

Maximum number of hooks authorised

Less than 1185 kg


Up to 1185 kg


The hooks must be removed from the water at the end of each fishing trip.

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

Management measures aiming 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.

Amount of Rope Floating on the Surface of the Water

Since 2018, the licence holders must minimize the length of rope floating on the surface of the water in order to reduce the risk of North Atlantic Right Whales entanglements:


Fishing 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.

Additional Identification of Buoys

In addition to the current regulatory requirement to mark buoys with the vessel registration number (VRN), licence holders will be required to identify each primary buoy with a sequential number in order to be able to individually identify each longline. This additional requirement will help identify and retrieve lost fishing gear and could also help identify the sector where a whale may have become entangled. The sequential number must be solid block Arabic numerals:

Requirement to report lost fishing gear

Since 2018, licence holders must report lost fishing gear to Fisheries and Oceans Canada. This management measure allow the amount of fishing gear lost annually to be quantified, and help identify the need to increase efforts to retrieve fishing 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 fishing 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 by the licence holder within 24 hours of discovering that fishing gear has been lost or after retrieving fishing 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.

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.).

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 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.

Hail prior to departure

Hail out are mandatory.


Licence holder must contact the DFO hail out system by phone at 1-800-561-2467 or 1‑902-464-8103 (satellite) the day before each fishing trip before 7:00 pm.

At-sea Observer

The At-sea Observer Program, funded by the industry, applies to this group on the basis of a 10% minimum coverage of the fishing trips.

Prior to the beginning of a fishing trip, the licence holder must have entered into a valid agreement with a company designated by DFO – Quebec Region with regard to at-sea observer coverage.

Dockside monitoring

The Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) is mandatory for 100% of the landings.

Prior to the beginning of a fishing trip, the licence holders must have entered into an agreement with a company legally designated by DFO-Quebec Region with regard to at‑sea hail and fish landing whose list is available at the following address:

Landings must be made in one of the designated ports from the list posted on DFO’s Web site at the following address:


All catches must be weighed on a scale upon landing.


Once offloaded and weighed, no fish can be reloaded in the fishing vessel.

Combined Form/Logbook/Purchase slip

Licence holder must acquire his 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 on each fishing day.

Incidental catches

By-catch is defined as the round weight (entire fish) of a by-catch species divided by the round weight (entire fish) of the directed species, in this case, Atlantic Halibut. 


While directing for 4RST Atlantic Halibut, the authorized percentages of groundfish by-catch are: 



The greater of 30% or 45 kg per fishing trip;

Greenland Halibut

3% per fishing trip;

White Hake

5% per fishing trip;


The lesser of 10% or 500 kg per fishing trip.

Other groundfish species

10% per fishing trip.

 If bycatch limits per fishing trip are exceeded, the fishery may be closed and legal proceedings may be initiated.

Small fish protocol

The minimum size of fish relative to the small fish protocol is:

 Possession of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 cm is prohibited. All specimens of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 cm must be returned to the water immediately and, if the fish is still alive, handled in a manner that causes it the least harm.

Areas could be closed for the fleet or part of the fleet when the number of undersized fish reaches 15% of the catch of any of the above-mentioned species.

Simultaneous fisheries

Lobster and Atlantic Halibut fisheries are authorized simultaneously.

Catch monitoring and test fishery 

Small fish and by-catch closures are for a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of test fisheries is borne by the industry. If a fishery is closed, it will not re-open until DFO feels that it can be effectively monitored and controlled. If a fishery is closed twice during the same year because of high levels of by-catch or small fish, it may remain closed for the remainder of the year.


The creation of partnerships involving up to three licence holders are authorized. The quantity of hooks authorized for partnerships will be equal to the total hooks authorized for one licence holder plus 50% for each additional licence holders up to a maximum of 3 licence holders onboard a same fishing vessel.

Conversion rate

In the Atlantic Halibut fishery, a conversion rate of 1.14 is used to convert the weight of eviscerated catches to round fish weight.

Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation provides that any overharvest of a quota in a given year on an individual quota regime will be accounted for in the following fishing season, or following seasons if applicable. For example, quota overruns during a management year will be deducted from the licence holder’s quotas for the following year(s) on a one-for-one basis.

In addition, when fishing under an individual quotas regime, it is the responsibility of the licence holder to respect the quantity allocated.

Other management measures

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

Temporary transfers

DFO authorizes temporary transfers of Atlantic Halibut individual quotas up to a maximum of 50% of the reconciled initial quota of the licence holder, within one fishing season.

Carry forward of individual quotas

The carry forward of uncaught Atlantic Halibut quotas from last year may be authorized in 2019-2020 up to a maximum of 15% of the reconciled initial quotas.

Reassignment of groundfish fishing licences

For the duration of the CHP, any reassignment of groundfish fishing licences in the fleet of less than 19.81 m with fixed gear under individual quotas for Atlantic Halibut in the Magdalen Islands will be permitted if the new licence holder is a resident, as defined in the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada 1996, of the Magdalen Islands sector.

Species At Risk Act

Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act, no person must 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 that section.

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).

Conditions of licence

To obtain their Conditions of licence, licence holders must access the National Online Licensing System (NOLS) and present a requestbefore noon on the Monday preceding the selected fishing period (see page 4).

Valid Conditions of licence will be available for printing through the NOLS following payment of the licence fees and at the latest the day before the requested period.

For National Online Lincensing 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

Please call 418-986-2095.

For additional information 

Please visit our website at the following address:

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