Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Upper and Middle North Shore - Competitive

Conservation Harvesting Plan - 2019





SEASON 2018–2019

Approved July 23, 2019

Amended April 24, 2020

AmendedMay 7, 2020


1       Application 

This Conservation-based Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to the Upper and Middle North Shore fixed gear fleet of less than 19.81 m fishing Atlantic halibut in NAFO divisions 4RST during the period from May 15, 2019, to May 14, 2020. Please note that this CHP is subject to change following Departmental decisions. 

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

2       Fishing areas 

The authorized fishing areas are: 

·         4R 

·         4S 

·         4T1 

·         4T2 ab 

·         4T3 ab           Except for part of the Miscou bank 

·         4T4 

·         4T6 

·         4T9 ab

 3       Permanent closure of fishing areas 

3.1      Protection of fish during spawn and cod concentrations 

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

·         Closure of all groundfish fisheries from April 1 to June 23 in part of NAFO Division 4R off shore from St. George’s Bay and Port-au-Port Bay, which is a recognized spawning area;  

·         Permanent closure of groundfish fisheries from January 1 to December 31 in part of subdivision 4T3 (Miscou Bank), which is a recognized cod concentration area;  

·         Permanent closure of groundfish fisheries from January 1 to December 31 in subdivision 4T5 (Shediac Valley), which is a recognized juvenile area. 

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 bycatch 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 

Fish harvesters’ organizations have agreed to divide fishing effort into two periods: a “summer fishery” for fish harvesters residing from Sheldrake to Natashquan and a “spring fishery” for fish harvesters residing from Tadoussac to Sept-Îles.  

Summer fishery:       Fishing is authorized from July 25, 2019, at 03 h (EDT) to July 31, 2019 at 15 h (EDT).  

Depending on the landings registered during the fishing period, there may be a second fishing period. 

The fishing period established above represents the maximum duration of fishing and may be reduced based on specific circumstances and fisheries management considerations, including the reaching of the quota or high probability of exceeding it. 

Spring fishery:     


Fishing is authorized from May 1, 2020, at 05 h (EDT) to May 5, 2020 at 17 h (EDT).

Each participant must comply with an individual maximum catch limit (IMCL).

Depending on recorded landings, there could be a second fishing period. In this case, only fishers who participated in the first period and who have respected their IMCL will be eligible.

Second fishing period:

The fishing period established above represents the maximum duration of fishing and may be reduced based on specific circumstances and fisheries management considerations, including the reaching of the quota or a high probability of exceeding it. 

The industry and the Department may jointly approve a management approach aimed at adapting fishing effort with a residual quota following the fishing period indicated above. 

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.

5       Quotas 

The allocation of Atlantic halibut from divisions 4RST granted to the North Shore fixed gear fleet comes in part from the basic quota granted to the Gulf fleets of less than 19.81 m with fixed gear and in part from the allocation transferred temporarily from the mobile gear fleet 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 come to a sharing agreement for the global Atlantic halibut quota granted to Québec’s three geographic fleets. This agreement was recognized by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. It confirms an adjustment to the shares of Quebec’s 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 Shore = 92.54 t (18.4277%); 

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

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

- Gaspésie = 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. 

In accordance with the permanent quota sharing agreement of the North Shore fixed gear fleet, the 2019-2020 initial allocation of the North Shore (130.749 t) is attributed at 54% to the Upper and Middle North Shore (UMNS) fleet, and at 46% to the Lower North Shore (LNS) fleet. 

Thus, the allocation granted to the UMNS fleet is of 70.605 t. Since the 2018-2019 allocation of the UMNS has not been entirely caught, a residual quantity of 4.279 t, representing less than 15% of the 2018-2019 allocation, is reported to the 2019-2020 season. Thus, the 2019-2020 Atlantic halibut allocation granted to UMNS fleet, including this report, adds up to 74.884 tons. 

Exceptionally in 2019-2020, the allocation of the UMNS fleet is divided between the two portions of the fleet into two equal parts: 

·         The portion of the fleet based from Sheldrake to Natashquan has access to 50% of the allocation; 

·         The other 50% of the allocation is reserved for the portion of the fleet based from Tadoussac to Sept Îles. 

Thus, each portion of the fleet has access to 37.442 t. Within each of these quotas, 3.942 t are set aside to cover bycatch in the directed fishery for other groundfish species and 33.500 t are allocated to the directed fishery. 

6       Management regime 

Competitive management regime with individual maximum catch limits (IMCL). It is not possible to trade, cumulate, transfer or carry-over this IMCL. 

The IMCLs will be established upon the available allocations and the number of participants to this fishery and will be stipulated in the Conditions of licence

The fishing of the Upper and Middle North shore allocation remains under a competitive management regime for the 2019-2020 fisheries management cycle. Other management regimes could be considered for the years to come

7       Fishing gear 

Summer fishery:       Longline with a maximum of 500 hooks that must have an opening equal to or greater than 15.4 mm.  

Spring fishery:          Longline with a maximum of 1 000 hooks that must have an opening equal to or greater than 15.4 mm.

In order to limit the risks posed by the latent fishing effort under a competitive fishery regime associated with groundfish licences that have not been active for many years, the number of hooks authorized for the Atlantic halibut fishery is limited for groundfish licences of the Upper and Middle North Shore for which no landings under an Atlantic halibut directed fishery have been recorded in the past 10 years. Holders of such licences will be authorized a maximum number of gear equal to 15% of the number of gear listed in this section of the CHP.  

Fishing gear must be removed from the water before returning to the wharf.  

It is prohibited to have more fishing gear on board than the maximum permitted for the fishery.

8       New management measures to minimize the risks of interactions with the North Atlantic Right Whale 

Since 2017, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has put in place additional management measures to protect the endangered North Atlantic Right Whale from entanglement in fishing gear and ship strikes. These measures take into account the best available scientific data and can be adapted if necessary to take into account future developments regarding interactions prevention.


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:  

·         A maximum of 6.4 meters (3.5 fathoms) of rope shall be used when attaching a secondary buoy to a primary buoy.  

·         At all time, no rope attaching a longline to a primary buoy shall remain floating on the surface of the water after the fishing gear has been set. 

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 

As of 2020, licence holders using fixed gear must mark the rope used to attach a fishing gear to a primary buoy with colours specific to the region, the targeted species and to the fishing area in which they are authorized to fish. 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 gear marking requirement consisting of interlacing different coloured twine sections within existing rope must be implemented as follows:

  1. The first colour to identify specific Region – to be interlaced on the same segment of rope as the second colour.

  2. The second colour to identify target Species – to be interlaced on the same segment of rope as the first colour.

The above coloured twine markings must be permanently interlaced within the rope. Each coloured twine must be interlaced in the rope on a minimum length of 15 cm. The use of paint or tape is not an admissible alternative to twine.

The minimum requirements regarding the number and position of colour markings are detailed in the Conditions of licence.

For more information:        All the information on gear marking measures has been published in the January 31th, 2020 Notice to Fish Harvesters, available at the following link:

8.3      Additional identification of buoys 

In addition to the regulatory requirement to mark buoys with the vessel registration number (VRN), licence holders are required to add a sequential number on each primary buoy in order to be able to individually identify each fishing gear. 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:  

·         Without ornamentation;  

·         Written in a smaller or bigger font size than the VRN so as to be capable of differentiating the number from the VRN; and  

·         In a colour that contrasts with the buoy’s colour. 

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 allows the amount of gear lost annually to be quantified and helps 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 five 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 

Hail out is mandatory for all participants. 

Licence holders must call the DFO hail out system at 1-800-561-2467 or 1-902-464-8103 (satellite) by 19 h the day before each fishing expedition.

11    At-sea observers  

Industry-funded at-sea observers program applies to a minimum coverage of 10% of fishing expeditions.

12    Dockside monitoring 

The industry-funded Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) is mandatory for 100% of landings.  

Before the beginning of a fishing expedition, licence holders must have come to an agreement with a dockside monitoring company legally designated by DFO, a list of which is available at the following address: 

Landings must be done at a designated port which appears on the list published on DFO’s website at the following address:

Further information on designated ports is also available at the following address: 

13    Combined form / Logbook 

Licence holders must acquire their booklet of Combined form from a prequalified supplier identified by DFO, a list of which is available at the following address: 

The Logbook section must be duly completed before arrival at port on each fishing day.

14    Incidental catches 

Bycatch is defined as the round weight (entire fish) of a bycatch 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 bycatch are: 

Ø  Cod:                                    The greater of 30% or 45 kg per fishing trip. 

Ø  Greenland halibut:              3% per fishing trip. 

Ø  White hake:                         5% per fishing trip. 

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

licence holder must hold the Conditions of licence authorizing shark bycatch. 

Ø  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.

15    Small fish protocol 

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

Ø  Cod                                      43 cm 

Ø  American plaice                   30 cm 

Ø  Witch flounder                     30 cm 

Ø  White hake                          45 cm 

Ø  Winter flounder                    25 cm 

Ø  Yellowtail flounder               25 cm 

Ø  Atlantic halibut                     85 cm 

Ø  Greenland halibut                44 cm 

Ø  Redfish                                 22 cm 

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

16    Simultaneous fisherires 

It is not authorized to fish any other species simultaneously while directing fishing activities on Atlantic halibut.

17    Catch monitoring and test fishery 

Small fish and bycatch closures due to high catch levels 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 any particular fishery is closed twice during the same year because of high levels of bycatch or small fish, it may remain closed for the remainder of the year.

18    Boat 

Except under exceptional circumstances, vessel lease outside of the North Shore and use of a vessel over 15.20 m are not authorized.

19    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.

20    Quota reconciliation 

Groundfish quota reconciliation applies to the current fishing season. It will be applied individually. As such, IMCL overruns incurred by a licence holder during a fishery management year will be deducted by a one-to-one factor from next year or years IMCL, or individual transferable quota, if applicable.

21    Groundfish discards monitoring 

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 may be increased, in addition to other regulatory options, including fisheries closures and legal proceedings.

22    Other management measures 

Except under exceptional circumstances, fish harvester replacement is not authorized.

23    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).

24    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. Valid Conditions of licence will be available through the NOLS following 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 question regarding this CHP 

You may call at 1-800-463-1729 

For additional information 

Please visit our website at the following address:


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