Notices to Fish Harvesters

Atlantic halibut 4RST, Gaspé fixed gear of less than 13.71 m - Conservation Harvesting Plan



2021-2022 SEASONS


Approved June 4, 2021

1. Application

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for Atlantic Halibut applies to all licence holders in the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of less than 13.71 m from the Turbot fishers under an ITQ group and the Association des morutiers traditionnels de la Gaspésie (AMTG) group fishing in the 4RST divisions from May 15, 2021 to May 14, 2022.

Note that:

2. Fishing Areas

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

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 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) represent the permanently closed area (red area), which is known as the Miscou box.

The lines joining points 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 2 (in that order) represent 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

The allocation of Atlantic halibut from divisions 4RST granted to the Turbot fishers under an ITQ group and AMTG group is derived in part from the basic quota granted to the Gulf fleets of less than 19.81 m with fixed gear and from the allocation of the mobile gear fleet transferred to the Gaspe 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 2021-2022, 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 173.360 t.

Based on the permanent sharing agreement of the fleet of less than 13.71 m, the part granted to the licence holders from the Turbot fishers under an ITQ group corresponds to 47.75% of this allocation, or 82.779 t, while the part granted to the licence holders from the AMTG group corresponds to 9.75% of this allocation, or 16.903 t.

6. Management Regime

ITQ management regime (Turbot fishers under an ITQ group) or I(t)Q (AMTG group).

Turbot fishers under an ITQ group: Administrative guidelines of the ITQ program are included in the regional guidelines, which is available on the DFO Quebec Region website at the following address:


AMTG group: Administrative guidelines of the ITQ program are renewed in 2021 according to the terms and conditions described in the Notice to Fish Harvesters regarding the extension of transitional measures published on January 23, 2019. The Notice to Fish Harvesters is available on the DFO Quebec Region website at the following address for each fishery:

7. Fishing Gear

The specifications for fishing gear authorized are:

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:

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

Groundfish (longline)


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. 

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:

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

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

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: 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 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

Licence holders are required to contact the vessel hail-out system before 19:00 the day before each fishing trip.

11. At-sea Observer

Industry-funded at-sea observer coverage at a minimum of 10% applies to this group.

Prior to starting a fishing trip, the licence holder must have an agreement with a company designated by the Quebec Region of DFO with regard to at-sea observer coverage.

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:

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. 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:

15. Incidental Catches

Bycatch is defined as the round weight of a bycatch species divided by the round weight of the target species.

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

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

Authorized groundfish bycatch limits per fishing trip: 


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

White Hake

5% per fishing trip.


The lesser of 10% or 500 kg. At the time of landing and weighing, at least a portion of the tail fin must be attached to the shark's carcass. Also, the pelvic fins (the paired fins adjacent to the cloaca or “vent”) must be intact and attached to the carcass.

Other groundfish species

10% per fishing trip.

16. Small fish protocol

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


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


22 cm


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

Areas could 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 operator who holds Atlantic Halibut 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:

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 not reopen 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 small fish or incidental catch, the fishery may remain closed for the remainder of the year.

19. Boat

Vessels with an LOA less than 15.24 m may be used, regardless of cubic number.

Turbot fishers under an ITQ group: No rental of boats that served into groundfish fishery outside of the Gaspe, or that are registered to the name of a commercial licence holder residing outside of the Gaspe, will be authorized, except under exceptional circumstances.

AMTG group: Only rental of vessels from AMTG group licence holders will be authorized, except under exceptional circumstances.

20. Partnership (combining of licences)

Partnerships between two members of the same group are authorized. Both licence holders shall be onboard and are allowed to use 200% of authorized number of fishing gear. The partnership agreement must be submitted to DFO at least 5 working days before the first fishing trip and, except for exceptional reasons, the partnership shall be effective for the entire fishing season of the species concerned. In addition, unhless there are exceptional reasons, DFO will not deliver replacement authorizations to licence holders involved in a partnership agreement. Landings are accounted for in proportion to the respective individual quotas. Both licence holders will be held jointly responsible of illegal acts committed during the fishing activities, if any.

21. Conversion Rate

The following conversion ratio is used in order to convert the weight of eviscerated catches to round fish weight:

Atlantic Halibut


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

Carry forward of individual quotas

The carry forward of uncaught quotas from last year may be authorized in 2020-2021 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. Crew registry

As of April 1st, 2021, inshore commercial licence holders, and their approved Substitute Operators, must keep records of all the crew members working aboard the vessel on every fishing trip. These records must be maintained by the licence holder for a period of five (5) years. This requirement does not apply to pre-1979 corporation licence and to any licence issued under the authority of the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. For further details, refer to the March 17th, 2021 Notice to Fish Harvesters at or contact the Licensing Office at 1-877-535-7307 or 

26. 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: 1-877-898-5559

For additional information

Please visit our website at the following address:

Date modified: