Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Gaspe-Lower St. Lawrence - Fixed Gear 13.71m and over - ITQ - Longliners

Conservation Harvesting Plan (2016-06-17)




Approved on June 8, 2012

Amended May 12, 2014

Amended March 25, 2015

Amended May 22, 2015

Amended on June 17, 2016

1. Application

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for cod, Atlantic halibut and Greenland halibut applies to fixed gear groundfish licence holders belonging to the Gaspé Longliners fleet fishing cod (including allocations transferred to the fleet from mobile gear from Group B) in divisions 3Pn4RST of NAFO, Atlantic halibut 4RST and Greenland halibut 4RST from May 15, 2012 to May 14, 2017.

It should be noted that: 

2. Fishing areas

Based on valid Conditions of licence and subject to a Variation Order, the authorized fishing areas are the following:  

Information regarding fishing areas is available on our website at:

3. Permanent closure of fishing areas

Protecting fish during their 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) show the permanently closed area (red area), known as the Miscou box. 

The lines joining points 2, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 2 (in that order) show the area open to the directed halibut fishery (green area) from June 24 to December 31.

4. Fishing seasons

The following fishing seasons are in effect for the validity period of this CHP. They represent the maximum fishing periods, subject to, among others, specific orders and closure periods.  Also, openings may vary depending on particular circumstances and fisheries management considerations, including industry demand and announcements of TAC, whereas closures can be expected in particular when quotas have been reached or when the probability of exceeding them is high. Exact periods will be confirmed by notice to fish harvesters or variation orders.

During the period where fishing is authorized, it is the responsibility of the captain to acquaint the marine safety notices, among others by Environment Canada and Transport Canada, as well as the standards and the best practices in marine safety, and to take all measures to insure a safe fishery.

5. Allocations

3Pn4RS Cod

The allocation of cod from divisions 3Pn4RS granted to the Gaspé Longliners fleet is the sum of:

Longliners are also authorized to receive temporary ITQ transfers on an individual basis from groundfish ITQ holders from the mobile gear fleet from Group B. 

4T Cod

The commercial cod fishery in division 4T is under a moratorium. Cod bycatches by the Gaspé Longliners fleet count towards the allocation reserved for all groundfish fleet bycatches in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. 

4RST Atlantic halibut

The allocation of Atlantic halibut from divisions 4RST granted to the Longliners group of 13.71 m and over corresponds 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:

- Quebec North Shore = 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. 

In 2016, the total quota allocated to the three Quebec geographic fleets corresponds to 505.882 t. The sharing of this quota then corresponds to:

- North Coast = 92.54 t + (3.702 t x 18.4277 % = 0.682 t) = 93.222 t;

- Gaspe = 336.16 t + (3.702 t x 66.9401 % = 2.478 t) = 338.638 t;

- Magdalen Islands = 73.48 t + (3.702 t x 14.6322 % = 0.542 t) =74.022 t.  

According to the permanent sharing agreement between the fixed gear fleet of 13.71 m and over and the fleet of less than 13.71 m from Gaspe, respectively established to 63.5 %: 36.5%, the allocation of the fleet of 13.71 m and over corresponds in 2016 to 215.035 t. 

Based on the permanent sharing agreement of the fleet of 13.71 m and over, the part granted to the licence holders from the longliners group corresponds to 86.89 % of this allocation, which is of 186.844 t. 

Greenland halibut

The allocation for fixed gear fleets from Quebec corresponds to 82% of the allocation of the fixed gear fleet under 19.81 m from the Gulf, to which is added a temporary transfer from the mobile gear fleet under 19.81 m, distributed according to the sharing formula in effect, amongst the following fleets: 

6. Management regime

ITQ management regimes for fisheries for cod 3Pn4RS, cod 4T, Atlantic halibut 4RST and Greenland halibut 4RST.

7. Fishing gear

The specifications for fishing gear authorized for the following directed fisheries are: 


The handline is defined as a single line to which are attached a weight and baited hooks or feather hooks. 

Atlantic halibut

Longline with a maximum of 8000 hooks used or aboard vessel with a legal opening of 12.6 mm or more and with at least 50% of the hooks used having a legal opening of 15.4 mm or more. 

Greenland halibut


A maximum number of 120 gillnets with a minimum mesh size of 152 mm and a maximum of 165 mm, hung so that the hanging ratio is 50%. As of May 15, 2013, fish harvesters under the individual transferable quota regime for Greenland halibut must exclusively use gillnets configured to have a maximum of 20 meshes vertically. 

All nets aboard the vessel must bear a single permanent tag.

8. Hail-out

The licence holder must contact the hail-out system at least 12 hours prior to departure on each fishing trip.

9. At-sea observers

The industry-funded At-Sea Observer program is applicable to this fleet with a minimum coverage of 15% of fishing trips targeting Greenland halibut and 20% of fishing trips targeting Atlantic halibut and cod. 

The license holder must have made an agreement with regard to at-sea observer coverage with a company designated by DFO's Quebec Region, prior to starting a fishing trip.

10. 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:

Landings must be made at designated ports from the list posted on the DFO website ( 

11. 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 monitoring company or DFO within 10 days of the landing.

The logbook portion of this form must be properly completed each fishing day before docking.

12. Vessel monitoring system

An active vessel monitoring system approved by the DFO is mandatory. The maximum position recording interval is established as 30 minutes.  Data, including position data, must be transmitted at a maximum interval of 60 minutes. 

13. Bycatch protocol

Bycatches are determined by the round weight of the species caught accidentally, divided by the round weight of the target species. 

Authorized groundfish bycatch limits, per fishing trip:





3Pn4RS Cod


4T Cod


4RST Atlantic Halibut


4RST Greenland Halibut


4T Hake


Other groundfish species

Targeted species

3Pn4RS Cod

Not applicable

Fishing using hooks with an opening less than 15.4 mm: 40%

Fishers with no ITQ for this species: 5%



4T Cod

4RST Atlantic Halibut

Between April 1 and June 23: 30%


Not applicable

4RST Greenland Halibut



Between April 1 and June 23: 10%


Fishing using hooks with an opening less than 15.4 mm: 40%

Not applicable

4RST Greenland Halibut






If bycatch limits per fishing trip are exceeded, the fishery could be closed and legal action may be taken.
Fishers must make sure they hold the ITQs required to cover the bycatch that will likely be caught during their fishing trips. 

14. Small fish protocol

The minimum size of fish within 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 Atlantic halibut under 85 cm must immediately be returned to the water. When live fish are returned to the water, they must be handled in a manner that causes them the least harm possible. 

Areas may 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.

15. 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 remain closed until DFO determines 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.

16. Vessel

Vessels with an LOA less than 19.81 m can be used, regardless of their cubic number. 

Only the rental of vessels from the Longliners fleet will be authorized for the cod and Atlantic halibut fishery. 

17. Partnering

Not applicable.

18. Participation exclusivity

Not applicable.

19. Conversion factors

The following conversion factors are applied in order to convert the weight of gutted fish catches into round fish weight: 



Atlantic halibut:


Greenland halibut:

1.05 (partially gutted – landed in Quebec)

1.10 (gutted – landed in Newfoundland)

20. Simultaneous fishing 

The licence holder/vessel operator who holds Greenland halibut, Atlantic Halibut or Cod, and also valid snow crab license conditions can conduct both fisheries simultaneously, during a same fishing trip or different fishing trips, if fisheries are conducted in the following areas and subareas:  

The licence holder/vessel operator can, under valid conditions of licence for these species, fish for the following groundfish species in the same sub-area and during a same fishing trip: 

The licence holder/vessel operator can, under valid conditions of licence for these species, fish for the following groundfish species in the same sub-area and during different fishing trips: 

21. Gear soak time 

However, fish harvesters are obligated to lift each of their fishing gears at least every 72 hours, when fishing for one or multiple species.

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, it is the responsibility of the licence holder to adhere to the quantity allocated (ITQ), 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. Carry forward of individual 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.

24. Other management measures

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

25. 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-catch of species identified above must be returned to the water and released in the exact capture location and, if the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm. 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.

26. Conditions of licence

To obtain Conditions of licence, fishers must log on to the National Online Licensing System. For help with the National Online Licensing System, please contact customer support by calling 1-877-535-7307 or by sending an email to

Approved by:

France Simard

Area Director

Gaspe – Lower St. Lawrence Area

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

For additional information

Please visit our website at the following address: 

Note : In the case of discrepancies between the English and the French version, the latter prevails.

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