Notices to Fish Harvesters
Index Fishery Plan
SNOW CRAB – AREA 12B – GASPE – LOWER ST. LAWRENCE
Approved March 15, 2021
This Index Fishery Plan applies to participants of the Snow crab index fishery in the area 12B. This Indicator Fishing Plan applies to participants in the Area 12B Snow Crab Indicator Fishery. Fishers identified by the Association des capitaines propriétaires de la Gaspésie inc. (ACPG) will have to fish the fleet allocation for which they hold valid Conditions of Licence.
2. Fishing Areas
Snow crab area 12B.
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 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: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/oceans/ceccsr-cerceef/egsl-eng.html.
3.2 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: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/regulations/SOR-2019-50/page-1.html.
4. Fishing seasons
The fishing season will start March 25 until June 30, 2021
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.
Forecasts of air temperatures below 0 ºC for the first week of fishing and / or ice cover may delay the opening. An opening committee is in place. The opening date will be confirmed by a Variation Order following the final recommendation of the opening committee and an agreement on the opening date.
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.
6. Management Regime
Competitive fishery regime.
7. Fishing Gear
Fishers are allowed to use 225 standard traps.
A standard trap (maximum 2.1 m3) may be replaced by two conical base trap having a maximum circular diameter of 1.22 m.
All traps used for fishing must be provided with a biodegradable escape mechanism.
All traps used for fishing must have a single annual tag (purple) with a unique identification number. Fishermen are required to obtain their tags from suppliers approved by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), the list of which is available at the following address:http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fisheries-peches/sdc-cps/nir-nei/tags-supplier-region-eng.html
Fishermen will receive replacement tags (gray) corresponding to 5 % of the number of gear allowed, during their initial order. Other replacement tags could be available upon request.
It is the responsibility of fishers to haul up their gear at least every 72 hours.
8. 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 marine mammal including 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 metres (3.5 fathoms) of rope shall be used when attaching secondary buoys to a primary buoy.
- At the exception of the rope attaching secondary buoys, , no rope attaching a trap to a primary buoy shall remain floating on the surface of the water.
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, targeted species and 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:
Twine colours for marking
Snow crab area 12
Snow crab area 12E
Snow crab area 12F
Snow crab area 12A
Snow crab area 12B
Snow crab area 12C
Snow crab area 13
Snow crab area 14
Snow crab area 15
Snow crab area 16
Snow crab area 16A
Snow crab area 17
Snow crab multiple areas
The gear marking requirement consisting of interlacing different coloured twine sections within existing rope must be implemented as follows:
a) The first colour to identify specific Region – to be interlaced on the same segment of rope as the second colour.
b) The second colour to identify target Species – to be interlaced on the same segment of rope as the first colour.
c) The third colour to mark different fishing areas must be interlaced. The third colour must be interlaced immediately before or after the segment of rope containing the first two colours. The third colour must not be interlaced within the same segment containing the first and second 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 for each fishery:
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 NARW 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
Lost gear reporting
The licence holder/operator must report any of their lost fishing gear within 24 hours of returning to port at the end of the fishing trip. Reports of lost gear must be submitted to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) by completing the Lost Fishing Gear form available online at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fisheries-peches/commercial-commerciale/reporting-declaration-eng.html. If the licence holder/operator is using and electronic logbook, Reports of lost gear must be submitted to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) by completing the section reserved for that purpose in its electronic logbook.
Retrieved gear reporting
The licence holder/operator must report the retrieval of any of their own previously reported lost gear within 24 hours of returning to port at the end of the fishing trip. Reports of retrieved gear must be submitted to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) by completing and submitting the Retrieval of Previously Reported Lost Fishing Gear form available online at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fisheries-peches/commercial-commerciale/index-eng.html. Retrieval can only occur during the validity period of these licence conditions and only in relation to the specific type of gear authorized to be used by these licence conditions.
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: XMARWhalesightings@dfo-mpo.gc.ca 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, behaviour 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 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 DFO.NAT.InteractionsMM-InteractionsMM.NAT.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca 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: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/mammals-mammiferes/report-rapport/page01-eng.html
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 hail prior departure must be placed at least 12 hours before departure.
11. At-sea Observer
The At-sea observers coverage is 15% of fishing trips made by the fleet, spread over the whole area and the fishing period.
12. Dockside Monitoring
Before the beginning of a fishing trip, fishers must have an agreement with a Dockside monitoring company legally designated by DFO.
An hail-in call is required 30 minutes before the expected time of arrival at port.
Dockside monitoring is mandatory for 100% of landings.
Offloading must take place in one of the designated ports identified in the document entitled Designated dockside monitoring ports, available on the Department website at the following address: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/sch-ppb/maps-cartes-eng.html.
When using an Electronic Logbook, you must communicate your unique Electronic Logbook Identifier to the Dockside Monitoring Company before hail in and also provide it to the dockside observer.
13. Electronic logbook
The use of an electronic logbook (Elog) is mandatory. Fish harvesters must use a client application approved by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the Quebec region for the form ELOG - Logbook - Traps (except lobster). Furthermore, fish harvesters must have obtained and installed their Elog Key in their client application in order to allow data transmission to the Department.
The Elog must be completed for each fishing expedition and “closed” before landing. A fishing expedition means a voyage that commences at the time a fishing vessel leaves a port to engage in fishing and terminates at the time fish caught during that period are offloaded. Hence, when a fisher goes back to port for a reason other than for offloading fish and leaves port again, the fishing expedition goes on until fish are offloaded.
To consult the list of client applications approved by the Department and to obtain your Elog key, visit Fisheries and Ocean’s web page at the following address: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/elogs
To request a modification to data that has been transmitted to Fisheries and Oceans, you must communicate with the client support service at 1-877-535-7307.
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. Data transmission every 15 minutes is required.
The current list of DFO-approved VMS units and the procedure and form to register a VMS unit are available at the following address: http://dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fisheries-peches/sdc-cps/vessel-monitoring-surveillance-navire/index-eng.html
15. Discarding of white crab and adolescent crab
The discarding of white crab and teenager crab (small claws) is allowed. These must be returned to the water, to the place of their capture, and if they are still alive, in a manner that caused it the least harm.
16. White crab Monitoring Protocol
Closure of the fishery upon reaching a percentage of 20% of soft-shell crab in catches at sea for a period of 14 consecutive days.
17. Simultaneous fisheries
During a same fishing trip or different fishing trips, the holder of valid Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut or Cod licence conditions who also holds valid snow crab licence conditions can conduct both fisheries simultaneously if Greenland halibut, Atlantic halibut or Cod fishery is conducted in subareas 4S1, 4S3, 4S4, 4T3a or 4T4.
Fishers may use a boat with a length less than 19.81 m.
A fisherman wishing to rent a boat must first inform the other fishers of the fishing fleet. No vessel rental will be allowed with commercial fishing license holders living outside the Gaspe Peninsula area.
19. Species At Risk Act
Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act, no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture, take, possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual or any part or derivate of a wildlife species designated as extirpated, endangered or threatened.
At the time this Conservation Harvesting Plan is promulgated, the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence species susceptible to being captured are the following: the Spotted Wolffish, the Northern Wolffish, the Leatherback Turtle and the Striped Bass (St. Lawrence River population). New species could be added during the course of the year.
All incidental captures of species at risk must be immediately returned to the water where they were captured and, if the animal is still alive, in the manner that causes it the least harm. All incidental captures of species at risk must be recorded in the « Species at Risk » section of the logbook. Furthermore, all interactions with species at risk, notably the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Blue Whale (Atlantic population), the Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population) and the White Shark (Atlantic population), must be recorded in this section of the logbook.
These requirements are additional to any obligation to declare an interaction with a marine mammal using the prescribed form (see section Marine mammal interaction reporting).
20. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fisheries Management Regional Director
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
For any question regarding this index fishery Plan
You may call at : 1-877-898-5559
For additional information
Please visit our website at the following address: http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/fisheries-peches/index-eng.htm.
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