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ARCHIVED - ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA - (Effective 2007)

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION
BIOLOGICAL SYNOPSIS

ATTACHMENTS
1. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Log Document
2. Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Log Instructions
3. ICCAT Bluefin Tuna Statistical Document

ANNEX I - ATLANTIC LARGE PELAGICS ADVISORY COMMITTEE
(a) Terms of Reference
(b) Departmental Contacts
(c) Structure

ANNEX II - NEWS RELEASES/ANNOUNCEMENTS
(a) Thibault Announces Adoption of Fleet Quotas for Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fishery – November 24, 2003
(b) Bluefin Tuna Management Plan for 2007 and Beyond - June 7, 2007

ANNEX III - Quebec Region
ANNEX IV - Newfoundland Region
ANNEX V - Gulf Region
ANNEX VI - Maritimes Region
ANNEX VII - Scientific Tagging Protocols
ANNEX VIII - Process for Bluefin Tuna Fleet Transfers

INTRODUCTION

This is an Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP ) for the Canadian bluefin tuna fishery.

This IFMP is in effect for the 2007 fishery and future seasons until such time as significant changes to the current management regime require publication of a new management plan.

The main objectives of this IFMP are:

  • To promote and ensure the sustainable utilization of the Atlantic bluefin tuna stock while respecting the Canadian allocation of this highly migratory species.
  • To gather timely and accurate data essential to assess the stock and to share this information with the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas that manages this stock.
  • To further promote the maximum return in value from this fishery.
  • To promote harvesting strategies which encourage compliance with management and conservation measures.

BIOLOGICAL SYNOPSIS

  1. Bluefin tuna are distributed from the Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland in the west Atlantic, from roughly the Canary Islands to south of Iceland in the east Atlantic, and throughout the Mediterranean Sea.
     
  2. Bluefin tuna fished in Atlantic Canada are part of the west Atlantic stock. Because of their migratory nature, bluefin are managed under the jurisdiction of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT ).
     
  3. Canada is one of 43 (as of 2007) Contracting Parties at ICCAT .
     
  4. ICCAT conventional tagging data have shown that a number of fish tagged in the west have been recaptured in the east and vice versa. The recent electronic tagging data from bluefin tagged in the west continues to provide details on movement paths of western released fish of spawning size travelling south to the Gulf of Mexico with some fish transiting to the east Atlantic before returning to the western Atlantic.
     
  5. Atlantic bluefin tuna can grow to over 300 cm in length and weigh more than 650 kg. Bluefin tuna in the west Atlantic generally reach a larger maximum size compared to bluefin caught in the east Atlantic and reach sexual maturity at an older age than they do in the east and the Mediterranean.
     
  6. In the west Atlantic, bluefin tuna are thought to spawn from mid-April into June in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Straits. Juveniles are thought to occur in the summer over the Continental Shelf, primarily from about 35ºN to 41ºN and offshore of that area in the winter.
Atlantic Bluefin Tuna (Thunnus thynnus, L)

Atlantic Bluefin Tuna
Thunnus thynnus, L

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ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA MANAGEMENT PLAN

1. OVERVIEW OF THE ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERY

1.1 Participants

In 2007, there are 602 bluefin tuna licences in the Gulf Region, 66 licences in the Maritimes Region, 55 in the Newfoundland Region and 54 in the Quebec Region.

Of the 55 Newfoundland licences, 13 are regular Atlantic-wide licences, 12 are regular 3LNOP licences, 26 are rotational 3LNOP licences and four are "charter vessel" rod and reel only licences. The rotational 3LNOP licences are issued annually to a list of eligible fish harvesters, which was established through a 1991 draw process.

Of the 66 licences in the Maritimes, 24 are trapnet licences held by 4 fish harvesters in St. Margaret’s Bay and 10 are rod and reel only licences restricted to 4Wd. The remaining 32 licences are rod and reel/tended line which are valid Atlantic-wide.

The table below reflects licence distribution by bluefin tuna management area. Commercial communal licences are included in the bluefin tuna management area totals.

TUNA MANAGEMENT AREA LICENCE
HOLDERS*
COMMERCIAL
COMMUNAL LICENCES
Prince Edward Island  360 11
Gulf Nova Scotia 135*** 14
Gulf New Brunswick 107 27
Newfoundland 55 1
Quebec 54 0
Southwest Nova Scotia 42** 3
St. Margaret’s Bay 24 0
TOTAL 777 56

* Includes commercial communal licences. **Includes 10 licences transferred from the Gulf Region to 4Wd in 1994. ***Includes 10 licences transferred from Gulf Nova Scotia in 2001/2002 to 4Wd.

1.2 Location of the Fishery

In Canada, the major bluefin tuna fisheries (Figure 1) are off southwest Nova Scotia (Hell Hole between Browns and Georges Banks); Bay of Fundy (off Grand Manan, NB); St. Margaret’s Bay (south shore of NS); Canso, NS (south of Canso Causeway); Gulf of St. Lawrence (off Cape George in the eastern part of Northumberland Strait, off North Cape and East Point in PEI and in St. Georges Bay, north of the Canso Causeway); and off Newfoundland (tail of Grand Banks and Virgin Rocks). Since 1996, bluefin have also been taken in a broader area off the coast of Nova Scotia between the Hell Hole and Canso fisheries, and particularly off Halifax. Bluefin are also taken as a bycatch from the edge of the Scotian Shelf by the pelagic longline fleet while directing for swordfish and tuna species other than bluefin.

Bluefin tuna are at the northern edge of their range in Canada and often show unpredictable and changeable distribution. This, combined with their schooling behavior, the patchiness of their prey, and age-specific preference for waters of particular temperatures associated with annual variability in hydrographic/oceanographic conditions, accounts for the considerable year-to-year variation in fishing location.

Considering recent distributions of the Canadian Atlantic fisheries, the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence 2005 fishery had a similar spatial distribution to that observed in 2002 -2004 (Fig. 2). The fishery typically is conducted in waters north of Prince Edward Island and west of Cape Breton Island. The fishery off south-west Nova Scotia, in contrast, differed in 2005 compared with 2002 – 2004, as fishing effort moved onto the northern edge of Georges Bank east of the international boundary (Fig. 3). There was also less effort in 2005 in the lower Bay of Fundy compared with the preceding three-year period. The fishery was less focused in the area known as the Hell Hole compared with recent years. Newfoundland-based fishermen did not pursue their fishery as far to the east in 2005 compared with 2002 –2004 (Fig. 4).

Figure 2

Figure 2a

Figure 2. Canadian bluefin catch (numbers) in the Gulf of St. Lawrence from log record data aggregated by 10 minute rectangles for the 2005 (top), shown in comparison to the 2002-2004 aggregated data (bottom).

Figure 3

Figure 3a

Figure 3. Canadian bluefin catch (numbers) off Nova Scotia, from log record data aggregated by 10 minute rectangles for the 2005 (top), shown in comparison to the 2002-2004 aggregated data (bottom).

Figure 4

Figure 4a

Figure 4. Canadian bluefin catch (numbers) off Newfoundland, from log record data aggregated by 10 minute rectangles for the 2005 (top), shown in comparison to the 2002-2004 aggregated data (bottom).

1.3 Timeframe of Fishery

The commercial fishery is influenced by availability and fat content of the bluefin as well as market conditions. With the introduction of fleet quotas in 2004, the length of the fishing season in Canada has been extended as most fleets now focus fishing based on market conditions to maximize value from the fishery. The bluefin tuna fishery usually commences in late July and concludes in mid to late November.

A hook, tag and release fishery may also be permitted outside the commercial catch and retain season for existing licence holders and in line with the established protocols for scientific tagging (Annex VII).

1.4 Landings/Value/Markets

Canadian bluefin tuna landings of 735t in 2006 represented an approximate landed value of $10 million (preliminary). The majority of the landings in this fishery occur between the last week of July and the first week in November annually. Fishing effort, gear type, the number of participating vessels and the areas of landing are closely monitored and this information is provided annually to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT ). While Japan has traditionally been the primary market for Canadian harvested Atlantic bluefin, in recent years other markets including the United States have become more prominent.

Table 1 summarizes Canadian bluefin tuna landings for the period 1973-2006.
Graph 1 illustrates landings compared to quotas for 1991-2006.
Graph 2 shows Canadian landings by fleet sector for 1991-2006.

1.5 Consultative Process

Given the highly migratory nature of bluefin tuna, stocks throughout the Atlantic Ocean come under the jurisdiction of ICCAT .

Domestically, the Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee (ALPAC) serves as the primary vehicle through which the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Management Plan covering the Maritimes, Quebec, Newfoundland and Gulf Regions is developed. Members of the Committee include DFO fishery managers and biologists, bluefin tuna fish harvesters, representatives from fishermen’s associations, processors and provincial governments. ALPAC also provides advice to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on matters related to bluefin tuna including: allocation of the resource among fish harvesters, methods of harvesting, research needs, enforcement requirements, licensing policy and economic analysis of fishing enterprises.

Issues specific to individual fleets or Regions are reviewed by the fleet and/or the regional Advisory Committees and Working Groups or through meetings of fish harvesters who make direct recommendatons to ALPAC . To the extent possible, members are asked to come to the annual ALPAC meeting with well-developed proposals/recommendations focusing on inter-regional issues. Local issues are traditionally dealt with at the sectoral or regional level.

TABLE 1 - ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA LANDINGS (MT) (PDF version, 59.3kb)



AREA 1973 1974 1975 1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989
P.E.I. 221.00 355.00 133.50 256.90 178.20 180.00 128.60 155.00 219.20 157.90 341.70 174.50 103.00 33.10 23.00 61.00 97.80
NEWFOUNDLAND 9.90 8.80 10.40 1.80 1.50 0.60 0.40 0.30 0.90 2.30 1.00 1.10 1.20 1.70 2.00 44.00 119.20
N.B. 1.50 33.80 57.30 71.80 77.90 14.70 21.80 47.30 10.90 21.10 52.40 33.30 20.10 1.00 0.40 - 34.30
QUÉBEC - 1.90 2.10 10.50 37.90 4.90 8.10 36.10 11.60 16.10 22.10 7.30 4.00 1.90 0.40 - 34.00
GULF N.S. 6.10 7.10 4.00 - 5.40 8.10 54.70 20.60 36.40 25.80 8.90 45.00 0.50 0.40 4.00 49.00 75.60
SOUTHWEST NOVA SCOTIA - - - - - - - - - - - 1.00 9.00 3.00 7.00 204.00 164.10
ST. MARGARET'S BAY 144.40 255.70 144.00 172.10 367.90 221.30 30.60 46.60 40.70 68.30 6.60 2.70 11.70 1.00 16.90 18.00 -
SEIZED - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 29.10
BERMUDA OPERATIONS - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
OFFSHORE - - - - - - - - - - - - - 32.00 32.60 146.60 12.20
TOTAL 382.90 662.30 351.30 513.10 668.80 429.60 244.20 305.90 319.70 291.50 432.70 264.90 149.50 74.10 86.30 522.60 566.30


  1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006*
P.E.I. 66.44 78.08 107.90 128.98 102.90 198.34 154.88 155.65 186.30 181.40 216.94 179.28 191.32 179.73 178.49 200.89 249.54
NEWFOUNDLAND 115.14 105.64 55.20 26.03 6.13 10.55 93.92 38.01 39.01 44.48 79.70 83.34 101.36 65.79 36.19 59.58 46.74
N.B. 33.69 34.75 36.20 30.35 34.98 33.27 36.50 28.16 37.21 36.51 33.20 37.36 41.10 39.50 41.89 41.56 52.56
QUÉBEC 33.67 36.62 35.20 34.39 33.92 32.61 36.44 18.03 25.44 32.81 16.47 29.36 28.79 32.14 31.99 38.95 39.90
GULF N.S. 38.33 55.37 56.60 72.52 56.14 92.05 57.13 67.93 53.44 64.18 68.44 43.29 64.58 33.89 69.84 68.79 100.74
SOUTHWEST NOVA SCOTIA 131.12 156.65 137.90 111.80 71.23 133.14 105.95 131.42 165.94 146.00 100.87 131.52 130.36 106.79 127.12 136.04 182.86
ST. MARGARET'S BAY 1.50 - 2.10 28.33 79.59 71.90 90.49 58.98 68.26 43.95 15.88 15.73 28.13 84.40 32.88 8.64 12.58
SEIZED
OTHER
0.54 1.32 1.70 1.99 0.52 - - 1.59 0.14 0.80 0.47 0.44 0.95 2.76 - 12.59 10.23
BERMUDA OPERATIONS - - - - 3.30 - - - - - - - - - -    
OFFSHORE (1) 28.50 13.30 1.00 24.20 - 4.21 22.67 4.81 7.33 18.52 13.01 3.18 15.55 11.52 15.46 30.71 40.33
TOTAL 448.93 481.73 433.80 447.01 391.73 585.80 597.97 507.42 583.07 568.65 544.97 523.50 602.13 556.51 533.86 597.75 735.48

 

GRAPH 1

Canadian Bluefin Tuna Quota and Catch (1991-2006)


GRAPH 2

Graph 2 - Canadian bluefin tuna landings - by fleet sectors

1.6 Management Styles

Annually Canada receives a quota of approximately 24% of the overall western Atlantic bluefin tuna Total Allowable Catch (TAC). Under the current management approach at ICCAT , unused bluefin allocations from one year can be carried forward to be fished in the following year.

In 2001, changes were made to the domestic allocation process in an effort to improve the management of the fishery that was being fished competitively. The previous system had become overly complicated in attempting to ensure that the Canadian quota was taken annually while ensuring that all seven fleet sectors had an opportunity to participate. This was difficult given the highly migratory nature of the species, which shows unpredictable and changeable distribution year to year. The new system was adopted based on catch history and established harvest "caps" for each of the seven fleet sectors.

In 2002, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans began a process of consultations with industry with a vision of introducing an equitable sharing of the Canadian bluefin tuna quota among the various inshore fleet sectors. As no consensus could be reached on a sharing formula, in November 2003, the Department introduced inshore fleet allocations in the bluefin tuna fishery for the 2004 fishing season. The inshore fleet shares were based on fleet catch history between 1993 and 2002.

The established inshore fleet shares remained in place from 2004 to 2006. For the 2007 fishery, inshore fleet percentages were adjusted slightly in order to provide for the re-integration of First Nations (FN) catches in the Gulf New Brunswick (GNB) fleet quota. From 2004-2006, GNB FN licence holder catches had not been counted against the fleet’s quota due to the large number of licences held by First Nations in this fleet and in order to evaluate the catch that would be expected from these licences. For 2007, fleet to fleet transfers were introduced in this fishery to allow individual fleets to better manage their quota through fishing it themselves or transferring a portion of their quota to another fleet.

In 2003, ICCAT established a 15t quota for the Canadian Pelagic Longline Fleet (PLL) to account for bluefin by-catches related to other directed pelagic longline fisheries in the Central North Atlantic. The PLL fleet continues to receive this allocation on an annual basis. The PLL fleet, which cannot direct for bluefin tuna, has also been permitted to receive transfers from inshore bluefin tuna fleets to eliminate the need for PLL vessels to discard any bluefin tuna incidentally harvested in the swordfish or other tunas fishery. For 2007, the PLL fleet also received an 18.76t by-catch allowance of western Atlantic bluefin. A by-catch allocation of 20t is also provided annually to the Canadian offshore “other tunas” licence holder to account for incidental harvests of bluefin in its pursuit of other tunas.

1.7 Links with Activities under the Oceans Act and Other Planning Initiatives

Linkages of this plan with other activities and initiatives pursuant to the Oceans Act continue to be under development. Such linkages may include the creation of offshore ocean management and marine protected areas. The Species at Risk Act legislation, may also have linkages at some point in the future.

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2. STOCK STATUS

2.1 Biology, Environment, Habitat

Present fisheries for Atlantic bluefin tuna are distributed from the Gulf of Mexico to Newfoundland in the west Atlantic, from roughly the Canary Islands to south of Iceland in the east Atlantic, and throughout the Mediterranean Sea. In 1982, ICCAT established a line for separating the eastern and western Atlantic management units (Figure 5) on the basis of separate spawning sites (Gulf of Mexico in the west and the western Mediterranean for the east). ICCAT conventional tagging data have shown that a number of fish tagged in the west have been recaptured in the east and vice versa. The recent electronic tagging data from bluefin tagged in the west provide new information on movement paths, but the picture throughout the entire range remains somewhat incomplete. The scientific arm of the ICCAT known as the Standing Committee on Research and Statistics (SCRS) continues to note concern about issues of mixing, and in particular, the inability to quantify the kind and extent of mixing for use in assessment models. The SCRS has noted that movement across the current assumed east/west boundary in the Atlantic does occur and that such movements can be extensive and complex. While the importance of the migrations are noted in SCRS documentation, the quantitative proportions are uncertain. Recognizing that quantitative knowledge of mixing rates is an important aspect of assessment models that explicitly attempt to describe the dynamics of migratory fish stocks, the SCRS noted a need to integrate recent advances in otolith microconstituent analyses, archival tagging and genetics into the assessment and management evaluation processes.

Atlantic bluefin tuna can grow to over 300 cm in length and weigh more than 650 kg. The oldest age considered reliable is 20 years, based on an estimated age at tagging of 2 years and about 18 years at liberty, although it is believed that bluefin tuna may live to older ages. Bluefin tuna are characterized by a late age at maturity (thus, a large number of juvenile classes) and a long life span, which make it well adapted to variations in recruitment success, but more vulnerable to fishing pressure than rapid growth species such as tropical tuna species. Bluefin tuna in the west Atlantic generally reach a larger maximum size compared to bluefin caught in the east Atlantic. Bluefin in the west are assumed to first successfully spawn at age 8 compared to ages 4 to 5 in the east. Distribution expands with age; large bluefin are adapted for migration to colder waters, such as in Canada. Bluefin tuna are opportunistic feeders, with fish, squid and crustaceans common in their diet.

Figure 5

Figure 5. The dashed red line represents the boundary between the eastern and western bluefin tuna stocks as recognized by ICCAT . Areas numbered 1 through 5 have been used by the SCRS to evaluate the implications of mixing of bluefin tuna.

In the west Atlantic, bluefin tuna are thought to spawn from mid-April into June in the Gulf of Mexico and in the Florida Straits. Juveniles are thought to occur in the summer over the Continental Shelf, primarily from about 35oN to 41oN and offshore of that area in the winter. In the east Atlantic, bluefin tuna generally spawn from late May to July, depending on the spawning area, primarily in the Mediterranean, with highest concentrations around the Balearic Islands, Tyrrhenian Sea and central Mediterranean where the sea-surface temperature of the water is about 24oC.

2.2 Species Interactions

Bluefin tuna are avid and active predators which typically prey on small fish such as capelin, herring, mackerel and squid when they are in Canadian waters during the summer months. As such, by-catch of bluefin tuna in herring weirs and purse seines, and on swordfish longline has been issues in the past, and some measures have been taken to avoid these problems. While the incidental harvest of bluefin is the most common in the swordfish longline fishery, this fleet has access to sufficient quotas of bluefin tuna to ensure that there is no dead discards of bluefin in this fishery.

As bluefin are traditionally harvested with rod and reel or harpoon, the incidental harvest of other species in the directed bluefin fishery are normally limited to sharks, most of which can be released alive.

As noted above, there are few natural predators of large bluefin, so predation has little influence on bluefin abundance.

2.3 Assessment

Stock assessments for west Atlantic bluefin tuna are conducted by the SCRS. Due to the highly migratory nature of bluefin tuna and their high individual value, scientists rely primarily on data derived from the commercial fishery. Canada, as a member of ICCAT , is obligated to provide catch, catch-at-size and catch-per-unit-effort information to ICCAT annually. The Canadian Regional Advisory Process (RAP) ICCAT Working Group is responsible for reviewing Canadian Atlantic Zonal information on tunas and swordfish (including incidental catch of these fisheries) in preparation for the scientific stock assessment meetings of ICCAT. This information is used by ICCAT scientists to conduct stock assessments during the ICCAT Bluefin Tuna Species Group meetings. Full stock assessments for bluefin tuna are usually conducted every two years. Canada participates in the ICCAT stock assessment process. The most recent bluefin tuna assessment was conducted in 2006 with the next one scheduled for 2008.

2.4 Research

The focus of the recent Canadian bluefin tuna research program has been to enhance knowledge of the biology of bluefin tuna relevant to the stock assessment. In particular, Canada has been active in improving age determination estimates. The ICCAT approach for age determinations involves use of ages assumed from fish length, based on earlier mark and recapture studies. Canada, along with other countries, has been evaluating alternative methods for obtaining age information, along with validating those estimates. Another stock assessment-related priority continues to be updating and improving the indices of relative abundance for the Canadian fishery using the most recent commercial catch rate data.

Canada is also an active collaborator in several satellite tagging programs, and in a new method to assess stock origin using the chemical composition of otoliths.

2.5 Resource Status

The most recent assessment of west Atlantic bluefin tuna (2006; Figure 6) indicated that biomass declined rapidly in the early 1970’s followed by a more gradual decline in SSB through the early 1990’s to about 21% of the 1975 level. During the period 1994-1998 it appears that SSB recovered somewhat to about 28% of the 1975 level in 1998. However, the assessment indicated gradual declines since then to about 19% of the 1975 level by the year 2004. Conversely, after the large decline in recruitment in the early 1970’s, recruitment since then has varied from year to year without trend. While the large decline in SSB since the early 1970s is clear from the assessment, the SCRS noted that the potential for rebuilding is less clear. The 1994 year class (recruitment in 1995) continues to be estimated as a relatively strong one, although it is still much less than the recruitment that occurred in the early 1970’s. The SCRS was uncertain as to the causes of the relatively poor recruitment since 1976 and, therefore, was less certain about the outlook for recruitment in the future.

It is also important to note that the 2006 assessment incorporated data through 2004, since 2005 data were not fully available. The catch data indicated that in 2005, about one third of the TAC was not taken, which is by far the largest shortfall since a TAC was established in 1981. Most of the shortfall was by the United States rod and reel fishery in terms of landings. The SCRS noted that the failure of a fishery to take about a third of its TAC, particularly for a valuable species like bluefin tuna, is a reason for concern. The SCRS cautioned that the conclusions of this assessment do not capture the full degree of uncertainty in the assessments and projections. An important factor contributing to uncertainty is mixing between fish of eastern and western origin. Furthermore, the projected trends in stock size are strongly dependent on estimates of recent recruitment, which are a particularly uncertain part of the assessment.

Figure 6

Figure 6. Median estimates of yield, spawning biomass, fishing mortality and recruitment for the base VPA model. The 80% confidence intervals are indicated with dotted lines.

2.6 Outlook

A short-term (five-year) outlook evaluation for changes in spawning stock size and yield under various management options was conducted by the SCRS. Future recruitment is expected to fluctuate around recent recruitment levels and five-year projections assumed this. In general, the outlook for bluefin tuna in the West Atlantic (Figure 7) is more pessimistic than that presented in the previous assessment (SCRS 2002), primarily because the 1994 and 1997 year classes, which were estimated to be about twice the average, are now estimated to be average. Projections show predictable degrees of short-term response in SSB, depending upon the amount of catch extracted.

Considering the results of the projection, the SCRS concluded that it is extremely unlikely that SSB can recover to levels that were exhibited in the 1970’s in the next 15 years or so without reducing catch to near zero. Harvesting at the previously established TAC (2,700 t) that was in place until 2006 was not expected to result in major changes in SSB from 2007-2009 (small declines on the order of 3% per year). A constant TAC over the period 2007-2009 which would produce slight gains in SSB was estimated to be about 2,100 t. The constant TAC over the period 2007-2009 which would be expected to maintain SSB at 2006 levels would be about 2,300 t.

Figure 7

Figure 7. West Atlantic bluefin tuna: Median projections of spawning stock biomass (SSB) under various levels of constant catch (top) and under various levels of constant fishing mortality rate (bottom). The figures in the right hand side are restricted to the more recent time period.

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3. CURRENT MANAGEMENT ISSUES

Given the reduced Canadian quota, it will be imperative that fleets design their conservation harvesting plans and prosecute the fishery in a manner that will maximize the return from the quota the fleet receives. As overcapacity exists in most fleets, fleets should strive to match harvesting capacity with the level of quota to which they have access.

The provision of accurate and complete logbook data, in acceptable format to departmental science personnel, had been an issue in the past. Industry has continued to make improvement in ensuring timely accurate data submission. This data is essential to the stock assessment process and Canada’s multilateral obligations.

By-catch of bluefin tuna in the pelagic longline (PLL) fishery had been the focus of increasing scrutiny by bluefin tuna licence holders since ICCAT adopted a rebuilding program in 1998, which required Canadian discard mortalities to be deducted from Canada’s national allocation. Under the previous management plan, measures were introduced that permitted the PLL fleet to obtain transfers of quota from inshore bluefin fleets and this continues. As a result, the PLL fleet could retain the incidentally harvest bluefin resulting in discards of bluefin tuna in Canada being reduced to virtually zero in recent years. The introduction of a PLL by-catch allocation of 18.76t in 2007 should ensure that annual discards of bluefin tuna remain at or as close to zero as possible.

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4. LONG-TERM OBJECTIVES FOR THE FISHERY

ICCAT has stated a goal of rebuilding to biomass levels that would support MSY with a 50% or greater probability by 2018 for west Atlantic bluefin. This is the goal of the 20 year rebuilding program first implemented in 1999.

5. SPECIFIC MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES

5.1 Conservation/Sustainability

In support of the ICCAT stated goal of rebuilding to biomass levels that will support MSY, Canada develops the integrated fisheries management plan to ensure that its annual allocation from ICCAT is not exceeded. Given the ICCAT rebuilding objective and the results of the most recent stock assessment, at the 2006 annual meeting of ICCAT , members agreed to reduce the western Atlantic bluefin tuna Total Allowable Catch (from 2,700t) to 2,100t for 2007 and 2008.

5.2 International Considerations and Obligations

Bluefin tuna are highly migratory, and Canada fishes from the west Atlantic stock. ICCAT was formed in 1966 as an international body responsible for consolidating scientific advice on tuna and tuna-like species in the Atlantic, and based upon that advice, makes recommendations on management measures for those fisheries.

Over-fishing in the late 1960s and 1970s caused a great deal of concern for the health of west Atlantic bluefin stock. Since the early 1980s, ICCAT has set quotas for the west Atlantic bluefin tuna. The annual country allocations for 2007, and 2008 are as follows: United States (1,190), Japan (380t), Canada (496t), Mexico (25), Bermuda (4t), and St. Pierre and Miquelon (4t). All harvests, by-catch and discards must be accounted for within the countries annual allocation.

5.3 Domestic Considerations

a) Aboriginal Fishery

It is the policy of DFO to encourage Aboriginal participation and integration into coastal commercial fisheries.

There are currently fifty six (56) tuna licences that are issued to Aboriginal groups in Atlantic Canada with up to an additional five (5) being committed to First Nations groups in the Gulf New Brunswick fleet. These licences are part of a number of different fleets and as such, fish under the same licence conditions as those fleets.

b) Scientific Fishery

A hook, tag and release fishery may be permitted outside the commercial season for existing licence holders in line with the protocols established for Scientific Tagging (see Sec. 6.1(b)). These protocols were developed to allow for tagging of bluefin tuna that will enhance the scientific knowledge.

c) Commercial Fishery

The objectives for the biological, social and economic elements of the fishery previously developed by industry stakeholders remain unchanged.

The common objectives are:

  1. The plan should contribute to ICCAT ’s objective of maintaining populations at levels that will support MSY by ensuring that the annual quota allocated to Canada is not exceeded. (Further biological objectives have not been considered since ICCAT already has a stated goal of MSY.)
     
  2. The plan should allow for the participation of all seven fleet sectors.
     
  3. The plan should allow for full utilization of the annual TAC, while at the same time maximizing value from the resource.
     
  4. The plan should ensure that data are collected from the fishery, which will contribute to the ongoing effective assessment of the stock.

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6. MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR THE DURATION OF THE PLAN

6.1 Fishing Seasons/Areas

a) The bluefin tuna commercial fishing season runs from January 1 through December 31 each year. Within this season individual tuna management areas may decide when to start their respective fishery, based on resource availability and market conditions. With the new inshore fleet allocations, fleets are able to establish their own openings in an attempt to maximize the value of their harvests.

b) A hook, tag and release fishery may be permitted when the commercial season is not operating, provided Bluefin Tuna Scientific Tagging Protocols (ANNEX VII) are followed.

c) Only one commercial fish harvester is currently permitted to fish in sub-Division 4Vn under a pilot project that is to be reviewed annually with ALPAC .

6.2 Control and Monitoring of Fishing Activities

The following management measures are important elements used to control and monitor the fishery.

Observer Coverage
Observer coverage is required in the bluefin tuna fishery for the collection of scientific data and to monitor fishing activity at-sea.

Fish harvesters will be required to carry an at-sea observer at the request of DFO. The fishing industry is responsible for funding a base level of observer coverage as determined necessary for each sector. Arrangements must be in place with a contracted observer company before the fishery opens.

Dockside Monitoring
Dockside monitoring is required for the verification and provision to DFO of accurate catch and landings data and for monitoring and reporting incidents of non-compliance such as with log book reporting and tagging provisions.

An industry-funded dockside monitoring program (DMP) must be in place for the tuna fishery in each sector before the fishery opens. It is the responsibility of the licence holder to ensure that dockside observers who monitor the offloading are certified by DFO. Instructions for the monitoring of offloading at dockside are outlined in the licence conditions.

Log books
Completion of a fishing log book is required as a condition of licence for all vessels fishing for tuna. Information collected in fishing log books is used for assessing catch and effort, collecting scientific data and as a compliance monitoring tool.

Log books must be completed (see Attachments 1 and 2) and forwarded as per condition of licence and must account for all fishing trips including those where bluefin tuna are not caught.

Tags
Tagging of all bluefin tuna caught is required under the Atlantic Fishery Regulations.

Tags are the principle control for determining whether or not a tuna has been caught legally. Tags assist in compliance monitoring and allow individual fish to be tracked from the point of harvesting to the market place.

Tags are also integral to the quota allocation and monitoring process and are a principal requirement of the ICCAT Bluefin Tuna Statistical Document Program (Attachment 3). This program allows for the authorized export of bluefin tuna to markets.

Tags are used for determining licence fees on a user pay basis at a cost of $150 per tag. Fees for unused tags are non-refundable. The Department will only replace tags at a cost of $150 per tag. These tags will only be available at DFO Licensing Centres during business hours.

When moving from one fishing sector to another, fish harvesters will be required to turn in unused tags to a DFO licensing centre. A “credit tag voucher” will be issued, which will enable the original tag holder to acquire an equal number of tags without further payment, for the purpose of fishing in another sector.

Unused tags must be returned to a DFO licence service centre in accordance with licence conditions.

Bluefin tuna tags may only be used when the bluefin tuna fishery is open or where specific licence conditions permit their use (i.e Fisheries (General) Regulations, Section 52 licence for scientific purposes). Possession of tags does not convey any commitment by the Department for their use other than that stated in Conditions of Licence.

Specific instructions concerning regional requirements are detailed in Annexes III, IV, V and VI.

6.3 Quota Allocations

A new inshore fleet allocation system was adopted for the 2004 season which provided each of the seven (7) inshore bluefin fleets with a percentage of the inshore quota. This system continues to be in effect however, slight modifications to the original percentage shares were introduced in 2007. This system is based on fleet quotas outlined in the table below. A News Release/Backgrounder and memo to stakeholders which outline the introduction of bluefin inshore fleet quota shares in 2004 and the subsequent changes in fleet percentages in 2007 are included as Annex II (a) and II (b).

Fleets will need to work cooperatively to address issues related to maximizing value from limited quotas through the transfer process.

2007 ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERY
Fleet Percentage of Inshore Quota
Prince Edward Island 30.02%
Newfoundland and Labrador 12.84%
Gulf New Brunswick 7.82%
Quebec 5.08%
Gulf Nova Scotia 11.27%
Southwest Nova Scotia 21.70%
St. Margaret’s Bay 11.27%

The allocation levels first established in November 2003 were based on catch history of the fleets between 1993 and 2002. Fleet quotas were introduced in 2004 to enable fleets to manage their specific quota, eliminate inter-fleet competition and allow fleets to focus on value, not just volume from this fishery. In 2007, inshore fleet quotas were adjusted slightly in order to re-integrate Gulf New Brunswick First Nations licence holder catches that had been managed outside of the fleet quota between 2004 and 2006.

As previously noted, the Pelagic Longline fleet received a by-catch quota of 18.76t of western Atlantic bluefin tuna beginning in 2007 as well as an allocation of 15t of central north Atlantic bluefin tuna. The Canadian offshore tuna licence also receives an allocation of 20t of bluefin.

6.4 Other Relevant Elements

a) Licensing

  1. Tuna licensing provisions as outlined in the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada apply.

    Bluefin tuna licences will be issued separate from the licence conditions. When licences are issued, they will be annotated as follows:

    "NOT VALID UNLESS LICENCE CONDITIONS ARE ATTACHED."

  2. The short-term leasing of vessels owned or registered by fish harvesters from another DFO Region, for use in the bluefin tuna fishery, is not permitted. A vessel may only be used once in the ex-sector fishery.

b) Gear

Under regulations, two methods of catching tuna are authorized: tended line and angling. Angling gear is defined as a rod and reel to which is attached a single line with only one hook. Tended line is a line equipped with only one hook, attached at all times to a fishing vessel, but does not include angling gear. The amount of tended lines and angling gear is limited by condition of licence. Other methods of fishing are authorized by licence conditions. Pelagic longline is used in the offshore tuna fishery. Electric harpoons are permitted in the inshore fishery upon request. Tuna trapnets are used in the St. Margaret’s Bay area of Nova Scotia, where there are 24 licensed trapnet sites.

Requests to entertain different types of gear will be evaluated according to the Exploratory Bluefin Tuna Licence Provisions (Annex VI – Appendix 2).

c) Small Fish

No person shall have in their possession any bluefin tuna that weighs less than 30 kg.

d) The ICCAT Bluefin Tuna Statistical Document Program

The ICCAT Bluefin Tuna Statistical Document (Attachment 3) is a form, which must be completed by all exporters wishing to have bluefin tuna imported into any ICCAT country. Previously, fish harvesters were requested to fill out this form, however, it is not a form required by DFO and plays no role in the monitoring of our fishery.

It is the responsibility of the buyers/exporters to fill out the form, which must accompany any shipment of tuna.

Fish harvesters still need to provide certain information required on the form, in particular the type of gear used to catch the fish. It is not necessary to include the name of the fishing vessel on the form, providing the tuna tag numbers are included.

Although fish harvesters are no longer required to fill out this form, it must be remembered that buyers/exporters could have difficulty getting shipments into the US or Japan if the forms are not filled in correctly.

Beginning in 2008, a Bluefin Tuna Catch Documentation Program will replace the Statistical Document and this form will be essential for the export of bluefin tuna. Fish harvesters will be required to provide certain information on the form.

e) Key Legislation

  • Fisheries Act
  • Fishery (General) Regulations
  • Atlantic Fisheries Regulations, 1985
  • Oceans Act

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7. ENFORCEMENT MEASURES

The purpose of conservation and protection strategies is to ensure adherence to the provisions of the management plan and regulations for the tuna fishery.

A number of strategies are used to achieve compliance in this fishery. These include a proactive communications strategy through contact with fish harvesters and other industry stakeholders to ensure a full understanding of legal requirements pertaining to this fishery. In addition, fishery officers conduct monitoring, control and surveillance through dockside inspections and vehicle inspections, at-sea surveillance and boarding of fishing vessels, air patrols and covert operations.

At-sea observers and dockside observers also monitor the fishery and observe, record, and report on incidents of non-compliance while collecting scientific data and landings data for quota control.

Fishery officers also respond to complaints of illegal activity and investigate incident reports provided by at-sea and dockside observers. Review of landings data and fishing logs are also conducted. Fishery officers take enforcement action when there is evidence of non-compliance. Enforcement activities can include search, seizure, arrest and the collection of evidence. Resulting legal action can be in the form of warnings, prosecutions, forfeitures and/or licence suspensions. DFO will publish notices of convictions for conservation related offences.

Some issues in the tuna fishery and the intended enforcement strategies are outlined below:

ISSUE STRATEGY
By-catch in other fisheries At-sea surveillance and boardings, observers, DMP
Mis-reporting area of capture, number of fish, weight and species Over-flights, at-sea surveillance and boardings, observers, DMP, dockside inspections, audits, covert operations
Unlicensed fishing At-sea surveillance and boardings, over-flights, observers, DMP
Illegal gear At-sea surveillance and boardings, over-flights, observers
Untagged Tuna Observers, at-sea boardings, dockside inspections, DMP
Transshipment at-sea Over-flights, at-sea surveillance and boardings, covert operations
Fishing closed areas or closed time Overflights, at-sea surveillance
Failing to comply with DMP conditions Dockside inspections and investigations

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8. PERFORMANCE REVIEW

8.1 Management Plan Evaluation Criteria

  1. Canadian quota levels not exceeded.
  2. Participation by all seven inshore directed tuna fleet sectors including First Nations licence holders within the various fleets.
  3. Maximizing economic returns by fully utilizing the Canadian TAC in a manner maximizes returns from the fishery (quantity and value).
  4. Essential data to assess the health of bluefin in Canadian waters is collected and supplied to Science for analysis and input to stock assessment at ICCAT .

8.2 Conservation and Protection Plan Evaluation Criteria

  1. Number of incident reports.
  2. Number of boardings (at-sea/dockside).
  3. Number of dockside checks.
  4. Number of vessel sightings.
  5. Number of violations.
  6. Number of violations as a result of vessel patrols.
  7. Number of violations as a result of air patrols.
  8. Results of client surveys (when applicable).
  9. Feedback from fishery officers.
  10. Feedback from advisory groups.

8.3 Annual Post Season Review

The management measures established for each year’s Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery are reviewed on an annual basis, both at the local and DFO Regional levels, and by an inter-regional working group of DFO led by Resource Management in Ottawa. These reviews take place following the fishing season, usually in January each year. Where the performance of the fishery or the existing management measures are considered inadequate to meet the objectives of the fishery, adjustments will be considered.

At the annual meeting of the Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee, a post season review of the previous year’s fishing activities is presented by the Department as well as any proposals to change existing measures. Results of the review and the subsequent discussions with stakeholders form the basis for any changes to the bluefin tuna management plan.

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9. OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES

9.1 Stakeholders/ Fish Harvesters

Where applicable, fish harvesters are responsible for:

  • acquiring and payment of fees for fishing licences and the required tags;
  • following the conditions as set out in their fishing licence including; the submission of fishing-related data, e.g. logbooks including scientific data to assist in research on a continuing basis;
  • carrying at-sea observers when requested, and paying for the sea-day charges and expenses related to the observer’s travel and accommodations; and
  • all costs associated with the Dockside Monitoring Program.

As required, all stakeholders in the bluefin tuna fishery are also responsible for:

  • providing independent advice and recommendations on both the domestic fishery and on Canadian positions to be brought forward to ICCAT at its annual meeting;
  • providing input on conservation objectives, how they might best be achieved, the enforceability of management measures and the socio-economic aspects and effects of proposed management measures;
  • developing management proposals;
  • in addition, provincial governments are responsible for the licensing of fish processing activities.

9.2 Fisheries and Oceans

The Department of Fisheries and Oceans pays the internal administration costs related to the dockside monitoring and at-sea observers, the production of logbooks; as well as the normal operating costs associated with other routine monitoring of landings, managing and surveillance of the fishery, the costs associated with the planning, direction, analysis and reporting related to the science program, consulting with the industry in public fora, and reporting on the fishery by various means. While working cooperatively with industry representatives, take the lead for international negotiations including providing the Head of the Canadian Delegation at the annual ICCAT meeting.

ATTACHMENTS

ATTACHMENT 1 – Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Log Document (PDF version, 141.7kb)

ATTACHMENT 2 – Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Log Document Instructions (PDF version, 272.7kb)

ATTACHMENT 3 – ICCAT Bluefin Tuna Statistical Document (PDF version, 100.5kb)

ANNEX I (a) - ATLANTIC LARGE PELAGICS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

TERMS OF REFERENCE

Purpose
The purpose of the Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee (ALPAC) is to provide advice to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) on the management and development of the fisheries for tuna, swordfish, porbeagle shark and other large pelagic species of Atlantic Canada. In doing so it replaced the former Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Advisory Committee (ABTAC) and Atlantic Swordfish Advisory Committee (ASAC).

Regional committees, similarly structured, will provide input to the Atlantic committee. Membership for the Atlantic committee is drawn from the regional committees.

Scope
The Committee will provide the opportunity for consultation between various parties with interest in, or jurisdiction over, the industry. Membership will include the federal government, provincial governments, fish harvesters and processors.

Advice from the various Regional Advisory Committees will be consolidated by the ALPAC .

The Committee will provide input on annual management plans which may include, but is not restricted to, advice on: quota allocations, regulatory amendments, enforcement efforts, licensing policies, seasons, size limits, gear restrictions, administration of enterprise allocation programs, allocation of foreign quotas and developmental activities.

The Committee will take into consideration biological, marketing and other relevant information when formulating its advice.

Chairman
The Committee chairmanship will be held by a DFO official.

Sub-committees
Ad hoc subcommittees and/or working groups can be established to review and assess specific policy options and management measures.

Meetings
Meetings will be held at the call of the Chairman and there will be no less than one meeting convened each year. Additional meetings may be necessary as determined by the Committee.

Meetings may be held in any of the participating Regions or at National Headquarters in Ottawa. When feasible, meetings will be held at times and places convenient to the membership.

Attendance
If a member cannot attend, an alternate may be nominated and the Chairman notified as far in advance of the meeting date as possible.

The proceedings of the Advisory Committee meetings will be open to the public and media representatives unless a majority of Committee members say otherwise before a meeting begins. Observers will sit away from the table and not take part in discussions unless asked by the Chairman. Numbers of observers may be restricted, at the discretion of the Chairman, in a case of limited space in the meeting facility.

Administration
Effective January 1, 1994, the Department will no longer reimburse expenses for attendance at meetings.

No formal voting procedures will be entrenched in the conduct of the Committee, but rather it will seek to operate on a consensus basis.

Summary results of each meeting will be prepared and distributed by DFO.

Membership
Membership of the Committee shall be made up of those industry sectors having major involvement in the harvesting and processing/marketing of the resource, as well as representatives of provincial governments and DFO. The structure of the Committee can be found in Annex I (c).

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ANNEX I (b) - DEPARTMENTAL CONTACTS

Mr. Barry Rashotte
Chairman, ALPAC
Resource Management Branch
200 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6
Tel.: (613) 990-0087
Fax.: (613) 990-7051
Mr. Brian Lester
Resource Management Branch - NHQ
200 Kent Street
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0E6
Tel.: (613) 990-0090
Fax.: (613) 990-7051
Mr. Leslie Burke
Chairman, Large Pelagics Advisory Committee
Swordfish Working Group
Maritimes Region
P.O. Box 550
Halifax, Nova Scotia
B3J 2S7
Tel.: (902) 426-2583
Fax.: (902) 426-7967
Mr. Ray Walsh
Newfoundland Region
Resource Management Branch
P.O. Box 5667
St. John’s, Newfoundland
A1C 5X1
Tel.: (709) 772-4472
Fax.: (709) 772-3628
Mr. Denis Tremblay
Laurentian Region
Resource Management Branch
P.O. Box 15,500
Quebec, Quebec
G1K 7Y7
Tel.: (418) 648-5885
Fax.: (418) 649-8002
Dr. John Neilson
Fisheries & Oceans Canada
Biological Station
531 Brandy Cove Road
St. Andrews, NB
E5B 2L9
Tel.: (506) 529-1213
Fax.: (506) 529-5862
Mr. Marc LeCouffe
Gulf Region
Resource Management Branch
P.O. Box 5030
Moncton, New Brunswick
E1C 9B6
Tel.: (506) 851-7845
Fax.: (506) 851-2607
Dr. Steve Campana
Bedford Institute of Oceanography
P.O. Box 1006
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 4A2
Tel.: (902) 426-3233
Fax.: (902) 426-9710
Ms. Linda Hunt
Maritimes Region
Resource Management Branch
PO Box 1035
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 1J3
Tel.: (902) 426-1488
Fax.: (902) 426-9683
Mr. Allan MacLean
Conservation & Protection
Maritimes Region
PO Box 1035
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
B2Y 1J3
Tel.: (902) 426-2392
Fax.: (902) 426-9683
Mr. Bobby MacInnis
Conservation & Protection Division
Gulf Region
PO Box 1236
Charlottetown, PEI
C1A 7M8
Tel.: (902) 566-7793
Mr. Gary Kelland
Conservation & Protection
Newfoundland Region
P.O. Box 5667
St. John’s, Nfld.
A1C 5X1
Tel.: (709) 772-5857
Fax.: (709) 772-2659

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ANNEX I (c) - ATLANTIC LARGE PELAGICS ADVISORY COMMITTEE

STRUCTURE

Commercial Tuna Harvesters - (Two seats per inshore fleet)

  • Newfoundland*
  • Quebec
  • Gulf New Brunswick*
  • Prince Edward Island*
  • Gulf Nova Scotia*
  • Southwest Nova Scotia*
  • St. Margaret’s Bay

Note * Additional seat(s) for Aboriginal Community/Organizations from the fleet will be permitted upon request to the Chairman

Tuna – Offshore - (One seat)

Provincial Governments - (One seat per province)

  • Newfoundland
  • Quebec
  • New Brunswick
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Nova Scotia

Commercial Swordfish and Other Tunas Harvesters - (Two seats each)

  • Longline fleet
  • Harpoon fleet

ICCAT Commissioners - (One seat each)

Commercial Shark Harvesters - (One seat per DFO region)

  • Newfoundland
  • Maritimes
  • Gulf
  • Quebec

Federal Government - (One seat each)

  • Chairman
  • Secretary
  • Science
  • Conservation and Protection
  • International

Other Invitees without a seat at the main table:

Fishermen’s Associations

  • Fisheries Food and Allied Workers Union
  • Maritime Fishermen’s Union
  • Eastern Fishermen’s Federation
  • P.E.I. Fishermen’s Association
  • Assoc. des pêcheurs-propriétaires des Îles-de-la-Madeleine
  • Fédération des pêcheurs semi-hauturier du Québec
  • SWNS Tuna Fishermen’s Association
  • Nova Scotia Swordfishermen’s Association
  • Newfoundland Fish, Food and Allied Worker’s Union

Processor/Buyer

  • Gulf
  • Scotia-Fundy
  • Newfoundland

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ANNEX II (a) - NEWS RELEASES

THIBAULT ANNOUNCES ADOPTION OF FLEET QUOTAS FOR ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERY

NOVEMBER 24, 2003

OTTAWA – The Honourable Robert G. Thibault, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), today announced that fleet quotas have been developed for the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery and will be implemented for the 2004 season.

Under fleet quotas, the seven Atlantic bluefin tuna fleets will be able to operate independently of each other, adopting their own strategies to address when and how to harvest this valuable, highly migratory fish. Fleet quotas will now be used in place of fleet sector "caps", which assigned each fleet a catch limit in a competitive fishery, but not a precise portion of the quota.

"Fleet quotas will enable each fleet sector to manage their specific quota, eliminating competition between fleets," said Minister Thibault. "It will also help maximize the Canadian value of this fishery while promoting safety at sea."

Department officials have been working closely with industry representatives since a review of the allocation process began in 2002, in an attempt to find a preferred formula for sharing the quota equitably among the fleet sectors. Although options for calculating percentage shares for the fleets were developed, agreement between the fleet sectors on a preferred option could not be reached.

"A number of options were discussed with the fleets and provincial representatives. In the absence of consensus, I decided to establish fleet quotas based on the most favourable option for each fleet," said Minister Thibault. "This is a compromise that is the fairest, most equitable and reasonable way to give all fleets an appropriate share of the fishery."

Fleet quota percentages for each of the seven fleets have been set for 2004-2006 using the formula outlined in the attached backgrounder. The Minister has accepted a recommendation by all fleets to periodically review the allocations. In order to allow the bluefin tuna fleets to take full advantage of their fleet quotas, DFO is prepared to entertain requests from fleets to move to individual quotas (IQs), individual transferable quotas (ITQs), or other means of managing their quota to maximize its value.

Fleet quota tonnages to be fished will be announced annually, based upon the Canadian allocation of bluefin tuna set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT ). The Commission allocates tunas in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, including Western Atlantic bluefin stock for Canada, the United States, Japan, Bermuda, and St. Pierre and Miquelon.

Fleet Quotas for the Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Fishery Backgrounder.

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BACKGROUNDERS

FLEET QUOTAS FOR THE ATLANTIC BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERY

NOVEMBER 2003

Introduction

In 2002, Fisheries and Oceans Canada undertook a review of the allocation process for the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery in an attempt to simplify the allocation process and provide industry with more stability and certainty in managing their participation in the fishery. In 2003, a discussion paper prepared for consultation with industry on the concept of fleet quotas was released, with the intention of establishing fleet quotas for the 2004 season.

Options for establishing fleet quota percentage shares

Options for calculating percentages per fleet were developed, and then narrowed down by the seven Atlantic bluefin tuna fleet sectors to four preferred options. Three options all assign a value to average catches over three different time periods. The fourth option selects the highest percentage share found under options one through three for each fleet. These percentages are totaled and adjusted to 100 per cent.

A consensus between fleets on a preferred sharing formula could not be reached. In the absence of agreement, option four was chosen as a compromise that is the fairest, most equitable and reasonable way to give all fleets an appropriate share of the fishery. Percentage shares for each fleet sector are outlined in the table below.

FLEET SECTOR FLEET SECTOR’S
STRONGEST AVERAGE
FLEET QUOTA PERCENTAGE
SHARE ADJUSTED TO 100%1
PEI 32.5% 30.52%
Nfld. 13.9% 13.05%
N.B. 6.7% 6.29%
Quebec 5.5% 5.17%
Gulf N.S. 12.2% 11.46%
Southwest N.S. 23.5% 22.06%
St. Margaret’s Bay 12.2% 11.46%
TOTAL 106.5% 100%

1. Adjusted to 100% by a factor of .9389671.

Bluefin tuna quotas to be fished by each fleet will be announced annually, based on the total Canadian allocation set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas. Transfers of quotas between fleet sectors will not be allowed in the first year but may be considered in the future. Other elements of the bluefin tuna management plan will be discussed at the next meeting of the Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee meeting in early 2004.

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ANNEX II (b)

TO: ALL ALPAC MEMBERS

(Original signed memo dated June 07, 2007)

BLUEFIN TUNA MANAGEMENT

I am writing to inform you that the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) has made a number of decisions concerning the management of bluefin tuna for future years.

The following measures will be applied beginning this year:

  1. An allocation of 8t will be provided off the top of the inshore quota to the Gulf New Brunswick fleet to assist in the integration of the First Nations (FN) licence holder catches in this fleet. There will be no further risk management of FN licence holder catches as in the past. Inshore fleet quotas, as established in 2003, will be amended to account for this adjustment to the GNB fleet quota (see attached table). These new fleet quota percentages will be in place for the next five years to promote stability in this fishery.
  2. Quota transfers between inshore bluefin tuna fleets, the pelagic longline fleet and the offshore tuna licence holder will be permitted subject to DFO approval. Transfers will be temporary, that is only for the year in which the transfer is made.
  3. The maximum limit of 35t for the ex-sector fishery will remain in place. Fleets may reduce this amount if they wish.
  4. A fleet’s uncaught quota in 2007 will be added to that fleet’s quota in 2008. Any uncaught quota in 2008 will be added to the Canadian quota in 2009.
  5. A fleet’s quota overrun will be deducted from that fleet’s quota in the following year.
  6. Other management measures in place in 2006 will be rolled over for the 2007 season including the 2t allocation for scientific tagging.

Specific rules and measures to implement these decisions will be included in Conservation Harvesting Plans and fishing licence conditions as appropriate. These should be discussed with your regional DFO large pelagics officer.

Barry Rashotte
Chairman
ALPAC

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ANNEX II (b) - BACKGROUNDERS

BLUEFIN TUNA MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR 2007 AND BEYOND

JUNE 2007

Allocations

The Canadian allocation of bluefin tuna is set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT ). The Commission allocates tunas in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea, including Western Atlantic bluefin stock for Canada, the United States, Japan, Bermuda, St. Pierre and Miquelon and Mexico. The annual quota that Canada received from ICCAT was reduced from 620t in 2006 to 546t for both 2007 and 2008.

The overall Canadian quota for 2007 is significantly reduced (571t for 2007) as a result of the reduced Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and Canadian quota for western bluefin tuna and given that Canada has only a small amount (approximately 25t) of uncaught quota to carry forward from 2006. In 2006, Canada had an allocation of 755t (620t annual allocation plus 135t uncaught from the previous year) of which approximately 735t was harvested.

2007-2008 Inshore Fleet Shares of Bluefin Tuna
Fleet Share % 2007 Quota
Prince Edward Island 30.02% 147.66
Newfoundland and Labrador 12.84% 63.13
Gulf New Brunswick 7.81% 38.43
Quebec 5.09% 25.01
Gulf Nova Scotia 11.27% 55.44
Southwest Nova Scotia 21.70% 106.73
St. Margaret’s Bay 11.27% 55.44
Total 100.00% 491.85

The remaining Canadian quota is allocated to the Pelagic Longline Fleet (57t) and the Offshore Tuna Licence (20t) to cover off by-catches of bluefin tuna in the swordfish and other tunas fisheries. There is also a 2 tonne allocation established for scientific tagging as recommended by industry representatives.

Fleet Quota Share Process

Since 2004, the Atlantic bluefin tuna fishery has been managed using fleet quota shares to provide stability for inshore fleets and allow them to focus on value from the fishery. The percentage shares that inshore bluefin fleets receive were established for the period 2004 to 2006 based on historical catches in the fishery between 1993 and 2002. The move to fleet quotas away from an Atlantic-wide competitive fishery eliminated the inter-fleet competitive "race for fish" and allowed fishers to operate with more stability and certainty. Each fleet operated independently by setting its own harvesting strategy.

The fleet quota system was reviewed at the end of 2006 to measure the impact of fleet allocations on management of the bluefin tuna fishery. It was concluded that overall the system should be maintained with some modifications.

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ANNEX III - QUEBEC REGION

MANAGEMENT PROVISIONS

1. General

In the spring of 2007, DFO announced the bluefin tuna allocation sharing that will be in place for at least the next three years.

The available quota for the inshore fleets in 2007 is 491.85 metric tons. The Quebec fish harvesters’ share is 25.01 metric tons (or 5.08%).

Starting in 2007, temporary quota transfers will be permitted, subject to DFO approval. The bluefin tuna fleet transfer procedure was announced on June 12th, 2007 and a copy of the announcement is appended in Annex VIII.

The present Quebec fleet plan is based on an initial allocation of 25.01 tons for 2007 and covers the bluefin tuna fishery for the Quebec fish harvesters in all Canadian waters, whether they fish in the Scotia Fundy Region, Newfoundland Region or in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The objective of the Quebec fleet in 2007 is to put in place a harvesting plan that will allow the fish harvesters to catch their initial allocation and the potential quantities received through transfers, without exceeding the total allocation available. The fishery will be managed on a competitive basis. This plan also takes into account the 35 metric tons limit authorised for the ex-sector fishery.

2. List of participants

All Quebec fish harvesters holding a bluefin tuna fishing licence and wishing to participate in the ex-sector fishery in the Scotia Fundy Region, must contact their DFO local office to register prior to the established date (August 17 for 2007). After that date, it will not be possible to register for ex-sector fishing for that fishing season in the Scotia Fundy Region.

Participants shall also prove, prior to their arrival in the Scotia Fundy Region that they have made their arrangements with:

  • Biorex Inc. (at-sea observer’s program);
  • A local dockside monitoring company.

Prior to their departure, fish harvesters must provide a copy of these contracts to their DFO local office in the Quebec Region and indicate the fishing sector where they plan to fish (Hell Hole and/or Halifax), along with their communication devices while fishing.

This procedure aims at establishing the List of the participants from the Quebec Region in the tuna fishery in the Scotia Fundy Region.

3. Licence Conditions

To fish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the licence conditions and initial tags will be issued by the fisher’s regular local DFO office in the Quebec Region.

To fish in the Scotia Fundy Region, licence conditions and initial tags will be issued via the DFO offices in that region, upon confirmation by the Quebec Region of the List of the participants from the Quebec Region in the Scotia Fundy Region tuna fishery.

4. Distribution of additional tags

Prior to presenting himself at a DFO office outside of the Quebec Region in order to obtain some bluefin tuna tags, the fisher shall contact his own DFO local office (Gaspe or Magdalen Islands).

The Magdalen Islands DFO local office will confirm to other DFO offices outside of the Quebec Region that they may issue additional tags to the fisher.

In Charlottetown, the opening hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m., from Monday to Friday. In the Scotia Fundy Region, the licensing center in Dartmouth is opened from 7:30 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., from Monday to Friday.

5. Daily catch limit

In order to ensure that all registered fish harvesters have access to the bluefin tuna fishery, fish harvesters agree to limit their catches to 2 bluefin tunas per day (from Midnight to Midnight). A fisher may not have more than three (3) tags in his possession.

6. Fishing season

The bluefin tuna fishery will open on pre-agreed upon dates (July 25th in 2007) for the Gulf of St. Lawrence. As recommended by the Committee, a 10 metric tons allocation is set aside for the Gulf fishery until the fishery opens in the Scotia Fundy Region. This allocation may be increased upon recommendation from the Committee. In order for the Committee to make a decision and to avoid the closure of the fishery in the Gulf, DFO will advise when the allocation is almost caught.

The ex-sector bluefin tuna fishery will open on September 20th, at the latest, in the Scotia Fundy Region, unless the Committee recommends to open earlier.

The fishing season will end when DFO reasonably thinks that the Quebec fleet’s allocation, including the transferred allocations if any, are about to be reached.

7. Tags transfer

The transfer and the banking of tags are not currently authorized.

8. Inter-fleet transfers

Inter-fleet transfers are authorised. DFO reminds all fish harvesters that only the fleets’ identified representatives may request transfers. These transfers will be approved by the ALPAC chairman (4 days delay). The representative of the Quebec fleet is Mr. Michael Taker.

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ANNEX IV - NEWFOUNDLAND REGION

MANAGEMENT PROVISIONS

1. Licensing
Fish harvesters who held a commercial bluefin tuna licence or a Rod & Reel “Charter Vessel” bluefin tuna licence in the preceding calendar year are eligible to renew that licence in the current year.

The 26 “rotational” 3LNOP licences issued in the Newfoundland Region will continue to be issued to the established list of eligible fish harvesters on a rotational basis.

All of the 3LNOP bluefin licences are subject to reduced access to the fishery in respect of both area to be fished and level of activity.

Licence conditions will be required for the bluefin tuna fishery and will be issued separate to licence renewals. Licence holders may obtain licence conditions (and condition amendments) at DFO Area Licensing Offices or Detachment Offices during regular business hours.

Commercial tuna licences, including rotational bluefin tuna licences, may only be reissued to eligible fish harvesters as per the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada. In respect of the Newfoundland Region, licence reissuance (licence transfers) may only occur between the following parties:

  1. Independent Core to Independent Core
  2. Core to Independent Core
  3. Independent Core or Core to Professional Level II as part of a complete Core or Independent Core enterprise. The Professional Level II fish harvesters must be independent in order to qualify.
  4. Professional Level I or II, to Independent Core.

Newfoundland fish harvesters eligible for a rotational 3LNOP licence may exchange their “positions” on the eligibility list in order to receive a rotational licence in any particular year.

The four (4) Rod & Reel “Charter Vessel” bluefin tuna licences in Newfoundland may be reissued to non-Core and non-registered fish harvesters resident within the Newfoundland Region and may be reissued only for charter vessel purposes. These licences cannot be reissued as “regular” commercial bluefin tuna licences or for use with any gear type other than angling gear (rod & reel). However, charter vessel catches may be sold commercially.

Registered commercial fish harvesters may not hold a commercial bluefin tuna licence and a “Charter Vessel” bluefin tuna licence concurrently.

Leasing of Newfoundland & Labrador based vessels will be permitted only if the disabled vessel being replaced has participated in the tuna fishery during the current year.

Other licensing provisions as outlined in the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada will apply to the commercial bluefin licences.

2. Gear
The four Newfoundland Region “Charter Vessel” bluefin tuna licences are limited to angling gear only with a maximum of 2 rods & reels (with one hook per line) per licence. Newfoundland commercial bluefin tuna licence holders are eligible to use a maximum of two tended lines (one hook per line), two rod & reels (one hook per line) and one electric harpoon. Tended line and angling gear may be fished at the same time up to a maximum of four lines. No more than two tended lines may be used at any time.

3. Dockside Monitoring Program
All bluefin tuna licence holders are required by licence conditions to adhere to a Dockside Monitoring Program, the provisions of which will be outlined in the Dockside Monitoring Schedule attached to the fishing licence.

4. At- Sea Observer Coverage
The Bluefin Tuna fishery is subject to at-sea observer coverage and licence holders fishing in the Newfoundland Management Area must make arrangements for coverage through the Newfoundland observer contractor. Bluefin tuna licences are not valid unless a "Letter of Arrangement" has been issued by the observer contractor and attached to the licence.

5. Season
The commercial bluefin tuna fishing season for Newfoundland Management Area will open on August 1 unless there is a consensus by the Newfoundland fleet to have either an earlier or later opening date. The recreational fishery for charter purposes only within the bays i.e. not more than 12 nautical miles from land, will open on July 15. A limited number of tags will be available for this purpose.

6. Tags
Licence holders operating in the Newfoundland Bluefin Tuna Management Area will be required to purchase a minimum of two Bluefin tags for their first fishing trip of the season. Thereafter, licence holders will be required to maintain one valid (unused) bluefin tag to remain active in the fishery.

Bluefin tags may be purchased at DFO Area Licensing Offices or Detachment Offices during regular business hours.

All unused tags must be returned to the Department within 7 days of ceasing Bluefin Tuna fishing or by December 31, of the fishing year, whichever occurs first.

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ANNEX V - GULF REGION

MANAGEMENT PROVISIONS

1. Licensing
Fish harvesters who held a permanent commercial bluefin tuna licence in the preceding calendar year are eligible to renew that licence in the current year.

Bluefin tuna licences will be issued separate to the licence conditions. Licences will be annotated as follows:

“NOT VALID UNLESS LICENCE CONDITIONS ARE ATTACHED”

Licence Holders may obtain licence conditions (and condition amendments) at DFO Area Licensing Offices during regular business hours.

Commercial tuna licences may only be reissued to eligible fish harvesters as per the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada.

Fish harvesters from New Brunswick who want to obtain a temporary vessel replacement or lease a vessel must do so using a vessel already registered in Eastern New Brunswick.

2. Gear
Angling gear and tended lines may be used for a maximum of four lines of which no more than two (2) lines may be tended lines. The maximum number of hooks per line is one. Electric harpoon may also be used.

3. Dockside Monitoring Program
All bluefin tuna licence holders are required by licence conditions to adhere to a Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP). Requirements concerning hailing in and out to the local dockside monitoring company will be specified in the condition of licence. Detailed provisions of the DMP, which are outlined on the conditions of the licence, must be attached to the fishing licence.

Also as a condition of licence, the catch and effort data for all bluefin tuna fishing trips must be entered by a dockside monitoring company in the DFO Gulf Region database. The entry of the data must be made on a real time basis and in a format approved by DFO. The final data entry must be completed within 2 weeks of the conclusion of the fishery.

4. Concurrent Licences
Holders of a shark longline licence or a shark recreational licence, the period of validity of which is concurrent with bluefin tuna licence conditions, are not permitted to fish pursuant to both licences during the same fishing trip.

5. By-catch of Shark
The retention of an incidental catch of shark is authorized. However, special provisions, which are outlined on the licence conditions, will apply.

6. Season
Each Management Unit will determine the season for their respective fleet in home waters and ex-sector. Each Management Unit must formally advise, via letter or fax, the DFO Halifax Licence centre (fax no. 902-426-9683) at least three weeks in advance of intending to participate in the ex-sector fishery, the names of the vessels, and the vessel’s registration number.

7. Tags
Licence holders operating in the Gulf Region Bluefin Tuna Management Area will be required to purchase a minimum of two bluefin tags for their first fishing trip of the season. Thereafter, licence holders will be required to maintain one valid (unused) bluefin tag to remain active in the fishery.

Bluefin tuna tags may be purchased at DFO Area Licensing Offices in the Gulf Region during regular business hours.

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BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERY IN THE GULF (4T)

Pursuant to subsection 22 (1) of the Fishery (General) Regulations, the following conditions apply:

LICENCE CONDITIONS WHEN FISHING BLUEFIN TUNA IN 4RST:

1. Logbook

1.1 When fishing with a valid tuna license condition, you are required to maintain a true and up-to-date record of your fishing activities and catch in the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) logbook, which can be obtained from your local Licensing Service Centre at the DFO.

1.2 This logbook must be completed as per instructions contained within the logbook, at the end of each fishing day and prior to entering a port.

1.3 Immediately upon landing at port with a tuna the Captain/licence holder is required to provide a copy of the true and completed logbook to the observer (dockside observer) for verification.

1.4 You must submit a copy of your logbook to the Dockside Monitoring Company that you hailed out to within seven (7) days following the end of the fishing trip when no tuna has been caught or immediately at the end of each trip when you have a tuna onboard.

1.5 This logbook must be signed by the captain. If a tuna has been off-loaded, the logbook must also be signed by the weighmaster and observer.

1.6 The Captain/licence holder is required to have the logbook catch and effort data for all Bluefin Tuna fishing trips entered into the DFO database. The final data entry must be completed within two (2) weeks of the conclusion of the fishery.

2. Monitoring

2.1 Hailout: For the purpose of these licence conditions "Hail" means to call in or communicate the information requested below to the appropriate person/company. The following information must be hailed to a designated Dockside Monitoring Company at least one hour before leaving port or changing fishing area to go fishing. A "Hail Out" to a designed Dockside Monitoring Company may be made up to seven (7) days prior to leaving port to go fishing. In addition to licence number, the hail must include:

(a) the date;
(b) the local time (using the 24 hour system);
(c) the vessel name;
(d) the vessel Registration number;
(e) the captain’s name and name of the licence holder (if different);
(f) the date, time and port of departure;
(g) the species you are directing for;
(h) the sub-area and division where you intend to commence fishing.

You shall not fish for any species of fish other than the species authorized by the licence conditions. You will be issued a confirmation number by the designated Dockside Monitoring Company confirming that your hail has been received. This number is to be made available when requested by a fishery officer. This number is to be recorded in the logbook/landing report.

Cancellation: You must advise the designated Dockside Monitoring Company if you cancel a hailed fishing trip. This must be done no later than 12:00 hrs. (noon) on the day the fishing trip was originally scheduled to occur. After having advised the designated Dockside Monitoring Company of a cancelled fishing trip, and you wish to resume fishing, you must again "Hail Out" as described above.

2.2 Hail in when you have caught a bluefin tuna: For the purpose of these licence conditions, "Hail" means to call in or communicate the information requested below to the appropriate person/company. Along with licence number, the following information must be hailed from sea to a designated Dockside Monitoring Company immediately after a tuna has been caught and tagged:

(a) the date and local time (using the 24 hour system);
(b) the vessel name;
(c) the vessel registration number;
(d) the captain’s name and the name of the licence holder (if different);
(e) the fishing area or sub-area where the fish was taken;
(f) all the species of fish which have been caught and retained;
(g) the landing port and off-loading site;
(h) the date and estimated time of arrival at the landing port;
(i) the estimated time of off-loading;
(j) the serial number of the bluefin tuna tag used;
(k) the accurate weight of the bluefin tuna; and
(l) the length of the bluefin tuna measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail. (flank length – see illustration below)

flank length and dressed length measurements

You will be issued a confirmation number by the designated Dockside Monitoring Company confirming that your hail has been received. This number is to be made available when requested by a fishery officer. This number is to be recorded in the logbook/landing report. Should the time and designated port of arrival change for any reason, an additional hail to the designated Dockside Monitoring Company is required at least one (1) hour prior to arriving in port.

2.3 You are required to separate your fish by species and product form prior to having your catch weighed and you are required to weigh all your catch, including all fish to be utilised by the Captain/licence holder/operator and the crew. Except for the weight of the containers, there shall be no deduction from the weight for ice, water, slime, gills and other things.

2.4 You may only off-load your catch in a port located in the Gulf Region.

2.5 You are required to provide access to your vessel including all fish holds, containers, and other things, to an observer (dockside observer) for the purpose of verifying the species and amount of fish caught and retained and observing the landing of all fish and recording the weight or quantity of all off-loaded fish.

2.6 You are required to have your catch verified by weight and by species of fish by an observer (dockside observer) designated under section 39 of the Fishery (General) Regulations. No off-loading of any fish may occur in the absence of an observer (dockside observer). Also, you may be required to have your catch sampled by DFO personnel to conduct biological examinations and sampling of fish.

3. Incidental Catch

3.1 You are authorised to retain an incidental catch of shark.

3.2 At the time of landing and weighing, all or a portion of the tail fin must be attached to the carcass. Also, the pelvic fins (the paired fins adjacent to the cloaca or "vent") must be left intact and attached to the carcass.

3.3 Finning (the practice of removing only the fins from the sharks and discarding the remainder of the shark at sea) is strictly prohibited.

3.4 After the weight of the shark has been verified by an observer (dockside observer), fins may be sold, traded or bartered, but only in proper proportion to carcasses sold, traded or bartered with a maximum of 5% fins per dressed carcass weight.

3.5 Fins may not be stored aboard the vessel after associated carcasses are sold, traded or bartered. Fins must be weighed and inspected by an observer (dockside observer) at the time of landing.

4. Gear

4.1 Angling gear, tended lines or electric harpoon may be used. A maximum of four lines may be used of which no more than (2) lines may be tended lines. There must only be one hook attached to each line.

4.2 Fishing bluefin tuna by means of an electric harpoon can only take place at a time when fishing for bluefin tuna is open to angling gear and tended line.

5. Other

5.1 While fishing under the authority of this license, no person on board the vessel may participate in recreational fishing of any kind.

5.2 While fishing under the authority of this license you cannot engage in the shark longline fishery.

5.3 You must have on board your vessel at least one unused tuna tag which has been issued to you in order to fish for tuna.

5.4 Unused tags must be returned to a DFO’s Licensing Service Centre located in Antigonish, N.S., Charlottetown, PEI, Richibucto, NB or Tracadie, NB within seven (7) days of ceasing your bluefin tuna fishing activities or by December 31, of the fishing year in which they were issued, whichever comes first.

5.5 THE FOLLOWING RECORD OF TAGS MUST BE KEPT CURRENT: (To view or print the table)

TAG NUMBER DATE ISSUED DFO’S SIGNATURE DATE TAG RETURNED DFO’S SIGNATURE DATE TAG UTILIZED FISHER’S SIGNATURE
             
             
             
             
             
             
             

This condition cancels and replaces any previous licence conditions issued for this licence.

Signature of Licence Holder:


Date: ________________________________________

NOT VALID UNLESS SIGNED AND DATED BY THE LICENCE HOLDER AND ATTACHED TO THE COMMERCIAL FISHING LICENCE.

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ANNEX VI - MARITIMES REGION - SCOTIA-FUNDY

MANAGEMENT PROVISIONS

TABLE OF CONTENTS

OVERVIEW OF MARITIMES REGION - SCOTIA-FUNDY SECTOR BLUEFIN TUNA FISHERIES

The bluefin tuna fishery throughout the Maritimes Region - Scotia-Fundy Sector has, during recent years, occurred in three principle areas (refer to charts shown in Appendix 5):

  1. The Hell Hole (a five square nautical mile area 80 km SW of Yarmouth, NS on the southern edge of Brown’s Bank and the Fundian Channel).
     
  2. Bay of Fundy and eastern coastline of Nova Scotia including Halifax, Lunenburg, Queens and Shelburne counties. Most notably Chebucto Head near the entrance to Halifax Harbour and SW along the outer line of St. Margaret’s Bay.
     
  3. The 4Wd area encompassing the Maritimes Region - Scotia-Fundy sector regulated herring and mackerel fishing area off of Canso Nova Scotia

All seven inshore bluefin tuna sectors fish throughout the Scotia-Fundy Fisheries in addition to an offshore tuna licence. During recent years, approximately 110 vessels from ex-sector fleets fished in the 4WX waters outside 4Wd.

In 2006, approximately 396t of the total Canadian catch were caught in all Scotia-Fundy waters by all fleets.

As a consequence of a combination of:

  • a large number of licensed tuna vessels fishing along hundreds of miles of remote coastline;
  • often with inclement weather;
  • relatively small bluefin tuna quotas per sector;
  • fluctuating average weights; and
  • high prices for bluefin on the international markets; there is a requirement for strict conservation controls.

These controls include;

  • limits on the number of vessels (such as by requiring that each vessel have a minimum of two tags per vessel);
  • Conditions of Licence detailing type of gear used when and where fishing can occur;
  • registration and daily computer monitoring of bluefin tuna tags per vessel;
  • industry funded Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP);
  • hails from sea and prior to each trip;
  • at-sea observers; and
  • provision by ex-sector fleets of a CHP annually to fish in 4WX.

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APPENDIX 1

MARITIMES REGION - SCOTIA-FUNDY SECTOR BLUEFIN TUNA OPERATING PROVISIONS - 2007

The following operating provisions will be applied to bluefin tuna licensed vessel fleets while fishing in Scotia-Fundy Fisheries waters.

All Areas

Conservation Harvesting Plans must be submitted by all fish harvesters or fisher groups proposing to fish in Scotia-Fundy waters annually to the Scotia-Fundy office in Dartmouth, NS for approval prior to the end of each year. These Plans must:

  • commit the fish harvesters to being able to provide proof of valid contracts for the year in question (before licence conditions are issued) for both dockside monitoring and for at-sea observers for the bluefin tuna fishery in Scotia-Fundy for coverages similar to previous years;
  • must indicate the general areas to be fished and how the at-sea hails will be made from these areas;
  • must indicate the intended start date and number of vessels and nominate a fleet representative;
  • must indicate available technology and ability to comply with all Hail requirements;
  • These Plans will be reviewed by the Maritimes Region - Scotia-Fundy Sector, Resource Management Branch and Conservation and Protection Branch staff prior to the opening of the fishery to the various sector fleets.

Area 4Vn

  • This area remains closed to all bluefin tuna fishing, with the exception of the one licence holder on a pilot basis.

Area 4Wd

  • All bluefin tuna licensed vessels will be subject to specific 4Wd Conditions of Licence issued from a Scotia-Fundy Sector, Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) licensing center (St. George, NB, Yarmouth, Dartmouth and Sydney, NS) or from the Antigonish, NS licensing center in the Gulf;
  • Bluefin tuna licensed vessels fishing 4Wd will be limited to fishing angling (maximum four rods and reels) only. While licensed to fish bluefin in 4Wd, vessels are not permitted to have any fishing gear other than angling gear on board;
  • Conditions of Licence will specify that vessels must have at least two valid bluefin tuna tags on board the licensed vessel before commencing fishing in 4Wd, but may fish down to one tag before being required to obtain a subsequent set of tags;
  • Vessels must hail out and hail in to a DFO registered dockside monitoring company each time area 4Wd is fished;
  • Vessels must hail to a DFO registered dockside monitoring company, the weight and length of bluefin tuna and tag number used to tag the fish, immediately as the fish are caught;
  • All tuna must be offloaded in 4Wd.

Area 4VsW, 4X and 5

  • Vessels licensed to fish 4VsW, 4X and 5 are subject to Conditions of Licence issued from a Scotia-Fundy Fisheries Licensing Center located in St. George, NB and in Sydney, Yarmouth or Dartmouth, NS;
  • Vessels from all sectors will be limited to a minimum of two tags and a maximum of ten tags per vessel per trip;
  • Ex-sector vessels are requested to advise, via letter or fax, the DFO Dartmouth Licensing center (fax no. 902-426-9683) the names of the vessels, and the vessels’ registration numbers as soon as those are known, preferably two weeks in advance of their intended start of fishing, or submit with fishing plans by June 30;
  • The number of tags issued to ex-sector fleets will depend on the CHP for that ex-sector to a maximum of 35t round weight of allocation per ex-sector fleet;
  • Once all ex-sector tags are used and accounted for and it is substantiated that additional tags are required to catch the quota allocated according the CHP or the 35t ex-sector quota, a DFO Scotia-Fundy Fisheries Licence Center can allocate the specific number of tags sufficient to catch the remaining portion of the quota. The determination as to which ex-sector vessels will be eligible to receive additional tags will be the responsibility of the ex-sector fleet;
  • Individual ex-sector 35t quotas will not be allowed to be overrun;
  • Vessels authorized to fish 4VsW, 4X and 5 will not be permitted to commence fishing with less than two valid (unused) bluefin tuna tags on board that vessel, when fishing west of 64º 30’W;
  • Vessels authorized to fish 4VsW, 4X and 5 will be permitted to commence fishing with one tag when fishing east of 64º 30’W;
  • Vessels licensed to fish 4VsW, 4X and 5 will be authorized to fish up to a maximum of four, lines of which no more than two (2) lines may be tended lines. Electric harpoons are also permitted;
  • Vessels using the above types of gear will not be permitted to fish in St. Margaret’s Bay inside a line drawn from Cross Island, located at 44º 18’ 40” N, 64º 10’ 01” W and Pennant point located at 44º 25’ 51” N, 63º 39”00” W;
  • Vessels will be required to hail out and hail in to a DFO registered dockside monitoring company each time they intend to fish 4VsW, 4X and 5;
  • Vessels are required to hail the weight and length of bluefin tuna and the bluefin tag number used to a DFO registered dockside monitoring company immediately after each fish is caught;
  • Swordfish longline licences may be fished concurrently with bluefin tuna licences in accordance with the additional reporting and monitoring requirements in the licence conditions.

St. Margaret’s Bay

  • All bluefin tuna licensed trapnets are required to obtain a St. Margaret’s Bay Bluefin Tuna Trapnet Condition of Licence from a designated DFO Scotia-Fundy licensing center prior to commencing to catch tuna;
  • Registered trapnet berth sites inside a line drawn between Cross Island located at 44º 18’ 40” N, 64º 10’ 01” W and Pennant Point located at 44º 25’ 51”N, 63º 39” 00” W are eligible to be registered as bluefin tuna trap net berth sites for the purpose of catching and retaining bluefin tuna;
  • Bluefin tuna trapnet licence transfers between registered berth sites must be requested (accompanied by a Licence Berth Transfer Document) by licence holders to the DFO office in Bridgewater, NS at least 24 hours prior to any authorization for licence transfer. Licence transfers between registered berth sites will not be considered retroactively, i.e., after tuna have entered into trapnets;
  • Conditions of Licence stipulate that licence holders must be present during the harvesting of all directed and licence berth transfer (joint venture) harvesting of all bluefin tuna;
  • Conditions of Licence require that licence holders shall be responsible for hailing tuna weights and lengths and tag numbers directly to a DFO registered dockside monitoring company immediately when fish are caught;
  • By-catches of St. Margaret’s Bay bluefin tuna by mackerel trapnets operating inside a line stipulated by the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, Section 103 (see Appendix 5) that are not licensed to catch tuna, will be limited to 7% of the total directed St. Margaret’s Bay bluefin tuna quota. By-catch bluefin tuna must be harvested directly in the presence of a DFO Fishery Officer or an authorized designate. The by-catch trapnet operator is required to purchase a tag from DFO and must immediately hail directly to a DFO registered dockside monitoring company the weight, length and tag number of the tuna caught. The by-catch trapnet operator is subject to all industry funded DMP requirements, including compiling logs and direct data entry;
  • Should licence holders intend to hold live tuna in a registered tuna trapnet berth site, the estimated weight and tag numbers credited against individual bluefin tuna must be immediately hailed to a DFO registered dockside monitoring company and weights of the bluefin tuna reconfirmed with that dockside monitoring company when the tuna are harvested.

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APPENDIX 2 - EXPLORATORY BLUEFIN TUNA LICENCE PROVISIONS

The Maritimes Region, Scotia-Fundy sector has approved the following process to enable eligible bluefin tuna licence holders to apply new and innovative methods of tuna fishing.

  1. The process requires a legitimate bluefin tuna licence holder to provide a formal proposal to the Maritimes Region, Scotia-Fundy Fisheries offices for review by the Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee followed by a review of DFO Science, Enforcement and Fisheries Management personnel.
     
  2. Industry-funded observer coverage is a prerequisite for the project to proceed.
     
  3. Once the project has been completed, the original DFO panel will evaluate the conclusions with the proponent and determine whether or not the project can proceed under an Exploratory Licence and, if so, under what terms and conditions.
     
  4. If a vessel is authorized to apply new gear or fishing methods, etc., an exploratory licence must accompany the vessel while operating under these terms. In addition, an industry-funded observer may be required throughout the period of operation.
     
  5. Once a thorough evaluation of the operation of the experimental licence has occurred, the conclusions and any proposals for formal adoption will be directed to the Maritimes Region, Scotia-Fundy Fisheries Large Pelagics Advisory Committee and subsequently to the Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee (ALPAC ) for consideration.

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APPENDIX 3 - TAG DOCUMENT FOR MONITORING COMPANY (To view or print the table)

MONITORING COMPANY

TAG# LICENCE # VESSEL
REG. # 
VESSEL NAME FISHERY
AREA 1
MANAGEMENT
AREA 2
VALID FROM VALID TO
               
               
               
               
               
               
               

NOTE:

1. FISHERY: Southwest Nova (SWNS), 4Wd (4Wd)

2. MANAGEMENT AREA: Scotia-Fundy (SF), St. Margaret’s Bay (SMB), Gulf NS (GNS), Gulf NB (GNB), Nfld (NFLD), Quebec (PQ), Offshore (OSH), Grand Manan (GM)

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APPENDIX 4 - FLANK LENGTH/DRESSED LENGTH MEASUREMENTS REQUIRED FOR HAIL-INS

flank length and dressed length measurements

The above illustration demonstrates the correct flank length and dressed length measurements required for hail-in purposes.

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APPENDIX 5 -

Bluefin Tuna Fishery Area 4Wd

St. Margaret’s Bay Line

The Hell Hole

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ANNEX VII - SCIENTIFIC TAGGING PROTOCOLS

Bluefin Tuna Scientific Tagging Protocols

Purpose:

To develop standards and criteria for industry participation in bluefin tuna tagging projects.

Background:

Since 1998, the fishing industry and scientists from Canada and the United States have been working together to conduct bluefin tagging using pop-up satellite tags. The Department of Fisheries and Oceans has supported these tagging initiatives with the goal gaining a better understanding of Atlantic bluefin tuna biology, migrations and stock structure.

In 2005, two separate tagging initiatives resulted in a total of 16 satellite tags being deployed on bluefin tuna in Atlantic Canada. While currently unknown, it is expected that a number of tags will be available in 2006 for further such projects.

Items for Consideration

1) Eligibility for Participation:

  1. Limited to existing Bluefin Tuna licence holders only.
  2. Fleets/ Individual Fish harvesters identified by a fleet must provide ‘Expression of Interest’ to DFO (Regional Large Pelagics Advisor) by September 15, each year, if they wish to participate in tagging program.
  3. A DFO technician (or other researcher/observer/ contractor identified by the Department) must be on board during tagging operations to observe the operation. The costs of deploying a technician or other individual designated by the Department will be assumed by the project proponents.

2) Requirement for bluefin tags

  1. A valid Scientific Licence (S52) and conditions and a minimum of one valid commercial tag must be on board fishing vessel in case a fish is deemed unfit for tagging and to prevent the possibility of having to release fish as dead discards.
  2. Tagging activity must cease when available commercial tags have been utilized.
  3. Two options exist for providing commercial quota/ tags to account for any fish unsuitable for tagging:
  • Nominal upfront allocation from TAC*
  • Through existing fleet allocation

* For 2006 and 2007, a reserve of 2 tonnes has been established.

3) Other

  1. Upon capture of a bluefin tuna, the fish must be tagged and released alive immediately to the waters from which it was taken, if it is deemed the fish is suitable for research tagging purposes. For all other tuna caught, the participating vessel is required to adhere to the provisions of the Scientific licence.
  2. Operation will be limited to the home sector tuna management area of the licence holder if the ex-sector fishery is closed.
  3. Operator must maintain a written record of all fish caught and tagged and released or retained with details of times and locations of fishing activity.
  4. The operator must provide a copy of the written record (as per 3 c above) to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans within 15 days of the conclusion of the research tagging experiment.
  5. DFO will provide an annual update to ALPAC on previous year tagging initiatives.
  6. The project proponents shall provide DFO Science with a copy of the track of the fish within the Canadian EEZ, and associated depth and temperature data. It is understood however, that publication rights reside with the project proponents.

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ANNEX VIII - PROCESS FOR BLUEFIN TUNA

FLEET TRANSFERS

To: Atlantic Large Pelagics Advisory Committee Members June 12, 2007

PROCESS FOR BLUEFIN TUNA FLEET TRANSFERS

In line with the Minister’s decision to permit direct fleet to fleet transfers, I provide the following process to be followed if a fleet transfer is to be requested.

  1. Transfers will be from fleet to fleet only, not to or from individual licence holders (with the exception of the offshore tuna licence holder). Only the identified fleet representatives (see attached list) can request a fleet transfer. Any change or addition to the identified fleet representatives list must be communicated to my office in writing. An acknowledgement of this change will be provided.
     
  2. A request to transfer quota to another fleet is to be made through your regional DFO Large Pelagics Officer who will verify that the fleet has sufficient quota available to make the transfer. Once this is confirmed, the region will submit the transfer to my office for approval and the quota table will be amended accordingly with a footnote outlining the transfer. My office will notify the representatives of the two fleets involved in the transfer.

    As previously noted, transfers are temporary, that is only for the year in which the transfer is made. Any uncaught transferred quota will remain with the fleet that received it and will be rolled over to that fleet in 2008. Uncaught quota in 2008 (including transferred fish) will roll into the Canadian quota for 2009.
     
  3. The maximum limit of 35t for the ex-sector fishery will remain in place even if fish is transferred.

    Specific transfer requests are to be made to the Department at minimum four business days in advance of their requirement. Regional officials will verify that sufficient quota exists and submit it to my office within two business days of receiving the request. My office will approve the transfer, amend the quota table and provide written notification of the transfer to the appropriate fleet representatives within two business days of the request being received from the region.

Original signed by
Barry Rashotte
Chairman, ALPAC

 

FLEET REPRESENTATIVES

  • Newfoundland and Labrador: Gerard Chidley
  • Quebec: Michael Taker
  • Gulf New Brunswick: Michel Richard
  • Gulf Nova Scotia: Jason Macdonald/Moses Coady
  • Prince Edward Island: Walter Bruce
  • Southwest Nova Scotia: Sam Elsworth
  • St. Margaret’s Bay: Robert Conrad
  • Pelagic Longline Fleet: Troy Atkinson
  • Offshore Tuna Licence: Andy Henneberry