Notices to Fish Harvesters

Halibut - 4RST - Gaspe-Lower St. Lawrence - Fixed Gear less than 13,71m - I(t)Q - Association des morutiers traditionnels de la Gaspésie

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Conservation Harvesting Plan (2016-06-17)




2015-2017 SEASONS

Approved: May 22, 2015

Amended on June 17, 2016

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 Association des morutiers traditionnels de la Gaspésie (AMTG) group fishing in the 4RST areas from May 15, 2015 to May 14, 2017. 

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. 

Information regarding fishing areas is available on our website at: 

3. Permanent fishing closures

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. 

4. Fishing seasons

The fishing seasons below are in effect for the validity period of this CHP. They represent the maximum fishing periods, subject to, among other things, specific orders and closure periods.  Therefore, openings may vary depending on particular circumstances and fisheries management considerations, including industry demand and TAC announcements, 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 through Notices to fishers 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. Quotas

The allocation of Atlantic halibut from divisions 4RST granted to the Association des morutiers traditionnels de la Gaspésie (AMTG) group 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:

- 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. 

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 less than 13.71 m corresponds in 2016 to 123.603 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 AMTG group corresponds to 9.75 % of this allocation, which is of 12.05 t.

6. Management regime

IQ management regime.

7. Fishing gear

The specifications for fishing gear authorized are: 

To limit risks posed by the latent fishing effort associated with groundfish licences under a competitive fishery regime with no harvest for many years, the number of hooks authorized for the Atlantic Halibut fishery will now be limited to 200 for groundfish licenses for which no directed fishery groundfish landings have been recorded in the past 10 years.

8. Hail-out

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

9. At-sea observers

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. 

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 DFO is mandatory. The maximum interval for recording the position is set at 30 minutes. 

13. Bycatch protocol

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.

14. 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.

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 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.

16. Vessel

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

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

17. Partnership

Partnerships between two members of the group are authorized. Both license holders shall be onboard and are authorized to use up to 200 % of the gear. The partnership agreement needs to be submitted to DFO at least 5 working days before the first fishing expedition and, except for exceptional reasons, DFO will not deliver replacement authorizations to license holders involved in such agreement. The landings will be accounted against each of the IQ following their prorate. Both license holders will be held jointly responsible of illegal acts committed during the fishing expeditions.

18. Participation exclusivity

Not applicable.

19. Conversion ratio

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

Atlantic Halibut


20. Simultaneous fishing

The licence holder/vessel operator who holds Atlantic Halibut 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: 

21. 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 addition, for fishing under individual transferable quotas, it is the responsibility of the licence holders to adhere to the quantity allocated (ITQ) and hold the quota necessary to cover the catches that will be made during said trip.

22. 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.

23. Other management measures

If an individual or fleet 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.

24. 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.

25. Conditions of license

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 versions, the latter prevails.



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