Notices to Fish Harvesters

Greenland Halibut (turbot) - 4RST - Quebec - Fixed Gear less than 19,81m QIT (General)

Conservation Harvesting Plan 2015-2017 (2016-05-12)





 Approved May 11, 2015 

Modified, May 12, 2016


This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to all fixed gear groundfish licence holders associated with vessels less than 19.81 meters from Québec Region fishing Greenland Halibut in NAFO Divisions 4RST from May 15, 2015 to May 14, 2017. It is to be noted that this CHP is subject to changes following ministerial decisions or annual review. 

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

 The conservation measures during the fishery are as follows: 


1.            Protection of spawning and of concentrations of Cod

 The protection of fish during the spawning period and areas where there are concentrations of Cod is a priority that the Department and the industry consider very important for the rebuilding of Cod stocks in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The following conservation measures will apply:

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

              Permanent closure of the Greenland Halibut fishery in part of NAFO division 4R where water depth is less than 125 fathoms;

              Permanent closure of the Greenland Halibut fishery in part of NAFO division 4T south of Cap Gaspé.


 2.            Fishing gear 

The fishing gears that are authorized are gillnets or longline.

 a)            Gillnets


             Number of gillnets with a maximum length of 50 fathoms subject to item 2c:     


Ø   Fleets under the ITQ fishing regime from Gaspe Peninsula and Upper and Middle North Shore

Ø  a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized.

Ø  for fish harvesters with a partnership agreement, a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized per pair of fish harvesters.

Ø   Fleet under the competitive fishing regime :

-          Gaspe               Peninsula           less    than 13.71 m

-          Upper and Middle North Shore

Ø  a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized;

Ø  for traditional crab licence holders except Crab Fishing Area 12A licence holders or lobster licence holders from Gaspe Peninsula, a maximum of 60 gillnets or the amount indicated on the licence.

Ø   Fleet under ITQ fishing regime from the Lower North Shore

Ø  a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized;

Ø  for fish harvesters with a partnership agreement, a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized per pair of fish harvesters.

Ø   Fleet from the Lower North Shore non ITQ Program


Ø  a maximum of 120 gillnets is authorized.




             Minimum mesh size of 152 mm and maximum mesh size of 165 mm. 

             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. 

             Nets will be mounted to give a hanging ratio of 50%. 

             Fish harvesters under Individual Transferable Quota regime shall only use gillnets configured with a maximum height of 20 meshes. This measure will progressively come into effect on the Lower North Shore, and all gillnets renewed from May 2016 must encounter this requirement. 


 b)           Longline 

Subject to fishery management considerations, the use of longlines can be authorized only when the Atlantic Halibut fishery is opened and only to fish harvesters who are directing their fishing activities simultaneously for Greenland Halibut and Atlantic Halibut. 

Subject to item 2c, the use of longlines is authorized with a maximum of 8,000 circular hooks which must have an opening equal to 12.6 mm except for the Gaspe Peninsula fish harvesters under a competitive regime holding at least one traditional crab, except area 12A, or lobster licence who are authorized to use a maximum of 4,000 hooks with an opening equal to 12.6 mm. 

c)            Latent fishing effort 

In order to limit the risks relative to latent fishing effort associated with groundfish licences under a competitive regime that were not exploited for several years, the number of gillnets authorized for the Greenland Halibut fishery will, on a permanent basis, be limited to 10 and the number of hooks to 500 for groundfish licences whose gear number have not already been reduced according to the control of latent fishing effort and for which no landing of groundfish in directed fishery has been recorded over the last ten years. 

3.            Allocations 

The allocation for Québec’s fixed gear fleets corresponds to 82% of the allocation of the fixed gear fleet less than 19.81 m of the Gulf of St Lawrence. On the basis of a TAC of 4,500 t, the six fleets from Québec share an overall allocation of 3,107 t (including a 295 t temporary transfer coming from the less than 19.81 m mobile gear fleet) distributed according to the established sharing formulas:

              Fleet under individual transferable quotas (ITQ) regime                2,478.3 t

              Fleet under ITQ regime from the Lower North Shore      353.0 t

              Fleet from the Lower North Shore non ITQ Program        18.6 t

              Fleet less  than 13.71 m under competitive regime from the Gaspe Peninsula     167.4 t 

             Fleet 13.71 m and greater under ITQ regime from the Gaspe Peninsula (Others)                58.8 t 

             Fleet under competitive regime from Upper and Middle North Shore     30.9 t


An allocation of approximately 3% is deducted from each competitive quota in order to cover Greenland Halibut by-catches during other groundfish species directed fisheries. 

Note that fishery statistics for the current seasons will not be accounted for should a change in the competitive fishery management regimes occur.


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.


5.            By-Catch Limits 

By-catch is defined as the weight of a by-catch species divided by the weight of the directed species, in this case, Greenland Halibut.

 The by-catch limits of groundfish while directing for Greenland Halibut in 4RST are as follows: 

 The by-catch limits for the longliner fleet and the Gaspe Peninsula fixed gear fleet of 13.71 meters and over under ITQs are specified in the CHP for this fleet.

 If daily by-catch limits are exceeded, the fishery could be closed and legal action could be taken.

 For licence holders that will obtain an ITQ allocation of any groundfish species in 2016- 2017, by-catch of those species will be deducted from the fish harvester’s ITQ.


6.  Small Fish Protocol


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

Cod  43 cm 

American Plaice 30 cm

Witch Flounder30 cm

White Hake  45 cm

Winter Flounder/Yellowtail  25 cm

Atlantic Halibut  85 cm

Greenland Halibut  44 cm

Redfish  22 cm

 Areas could be closed for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of any of the above species.

 All catches of Atlantic Halibut less than 85 centimeters must be returned to the water immediately and, when the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm.


7.  Hail out

 The licence holder/vessel operator must contact DFO’s hail out system by phone at 1-800-561-2467 or 1-902-464-8103 (satellite) before 19:00 h the day before each fishing trip.


8. Observer Coverage

 Industry funded at-sea observer program for this fleet will apply at a minimum coverage level of 5% of the fishing trips, except for the longliner fleet and the fleet 13.71 m and over under ITQ regime from Gaspe Peninsula (Others) for which the minimum coverage is 15% of fishing expeditions.

 Before the beginning of a fishing expedition, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with an at-sea observer company designated by DFO-Quebec Region. The complete list of designated at-sea observer companies is available on MPO website:


9.            Combined form 

The logbook portion of the Combined form must be completed daily. A Combined Form must be acquired from a Pre-qualified Supplier identified by DFO whose list is available at the following address: It must be completed according to the instructions specified in the document and submitted to the dockside monitoring company or to DFO within 10 days of landing. The logbook section of the Combined Form must be completed for each fishing day and before arriving to port.


10.          Daily Hail 

Fish harvesters of the Gaspe Peninsula less than 13.71 m fleet under competitive regime carrying out fishing trips longer than 30 hours must make a daily hail to declare daily catches during their fishing trip. These calls are not mandatory when an at-sea observer is on board the boat during the fishing trip.


11.          Vessel Monitoring System 

Fish harvesters of the Gaspe Peninsula and Upper and Middle North Shore fleets under ITQ regime as well as fish harvesters of the Gaspe Peninsula and Upper and Middle North Shore fleets under competitive regime shall use an active Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) approved by Department of Fisheries and Oceans. The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) signal transmission frequency should be set to 30 minutes.


12.          Dockside Monitoring 

Dockside monitoring program (DMP) at 100% of the landings is mandatory.

 Lower North Shore fish harvesters landing their catches in Newfoundland must communicate with DFO at one of the following number in order to register their landings as soon as reaching the wharf: 1-877-962-8222 or 1-877-962-8309.

 Before the beginning of a fishing expedition, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with a company legally designated by DFO-Quebec Region for hail-ins and dockside monitoring. The complete list of designated companies can be found on DFO website: 

Offloading must take place in one of the designated ports identified in the document entitled Designated dockside monitoring ports, available on the department’s website at the following address: 

13.          Catch Monitoring and Test Fishery 

Fishery closures due to small fish and excessive by-catch will have a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of conducting all test fisheries will be borne by industry. If a fishery is closed, it will not re-open unless DFO feels that it can be effectively monitored and controlled. If any particular fishery was closed twice during the year because of excessive by-catch or small fish, the fishery could remain closed for the remainder of the year.

 14.          Other Management Measures 

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 could be increased in addition to other regulatory options, including fishery closures and legal proceedings. 

15.          Conversion Rate 

For landings in Quebec, a 1.05 rate will be applied to convert the partially gutted weight into round weight. On the other hand, a 1.10 rate will be applied to convert the gutted weight into round weight for landings in Newfoundland. 

16.          Partnership (combining of licences) 

Temporary combining of two groundfish licence holders for the Greenland Halibut fishery is authorized for fish harvesters under ITQs and from the same fleet. The maximum number of gillnets permitted per team is 120. Fish harvesters must first register with the DFO office in their respective sector.


17.          Exclusivity of participation

 Unless for exceptional circumstances, no vessel leasing will be permitted between the different fishing fleets except between the fleet under individual transferable quota (ITQ) regime and the fleet 13.71 m and greater under ITQ regime from Gaspe Peninsula (Others) during a same management year.

 Furthermore, no rentals or vessel transactions shall be allowed with commercial fishing licence holders residing outside the Québec Region.


18.          Simultaneous fishing


Simultaneous Greenland Halibut gillnet fishing and Atlantic Halibut longline fishing is authorized only during the same fishing trip.

 However, fish harvesters must obtain Licence Conditions for this simultaneous fishery.


19.          Soak Time 

It is compulsory for fish harvesters to lift every single fishing gear at least every 72 hours, whether for regular fishing or simultaneous fishing.


20.          Quota Reconciliation 

In accordance with quota reconciliation, any overharvest of a quota in one year, on an IQ or in a competitive fishery, will be accounted for in advance of the following fishing season. For example, overharvest of quotas in a fishing management year will be deducted on a one-to-one basis from the licence holder quota or fleet level the next year. 

Quota reconciliation will facilitate the management of all fisheries and promote the observance of harvest limits. Quota reconciliation will help achieve the conservation objectives for the resource, ensure that overruns by a fleet/harvester do not affect the others, and provide industry with an increased responsibility in meeting conservation objectives. 

Implementing quota reconciliation, the Department authorizes quota transfers in order to allow individuals or fleets to cover quota overruns until a limit date after which the department will compare final fishing data. This date corresponds to the end of the groundfish management year, May 14. Furthermore, during the month following this date, the department will bring necessary adjustments to the quotas of the current year by considering competitive quota and ITQ overruns if the need arises. 

In addition, within an individual transferable quota regime, it is the fish harvesters’ responsibility to respect the quantity granted (ITQ) while taking into consideration transfers and landings. The fish harvesters shall take the necessary arrangements to cover any quota overrun from previous fishing trips, if applicable, before departing for another fishing expedition and to have the necessary quota to cover the expected catches.

 21.          Carry forward quotas


As a pilot project, the carry forward of uncaught quotas from last year will be authorized for 2016-2017 up to 15% of the original quota.


22.          Species at Risk Act  

Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act (SARA), 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 Management Plan is promulgated, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic species targeted by these measures are the following ones: Spotted wolffish, Northern wolffish, Leatherback Turtle and Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population). New species could be added in the course of the year. 

All by-catches of species identified above must be returned to the water and released in the exact capture location and, if the fish is still alive, with as little harm as possible. In addition, information regarding interactions with species at risk, including species mentioned above as well as the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Blue Whale (Atlantic population) and the Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population) must be recorded in the Species at risk section of the logbook. 

23.          Licence Conditions 

To obtain Licence Conditions, 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 fishing-


For additional information 

You can obtain additional information on our website at http://www.qc.dfo-


Approved by: 

Dario Lemelin Resource Management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada


Date modified: