Inshore Lobster

American Lobster
American Lobster
(Homarus americanus))

Integrated Fishery Management Plan (Summary)
Lobster Fishing Areas 27 - 38
Scotia-Fundy Sector - Maritimes Region - 2011

FOREWORD

This document constitutes the summary for the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP). The IFMP was developed in conjunction with lobster harvesters, and covering the Maritimes Region inshore lobster fleets within Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 27-38 of the fishery.

Stefan Leslie's siganture block
Stefan Leslie
Director Resource Management
Maritimes Region

INSHORE LOBSTER (Homarus americanus)
INTEGRATED FISHERIES MANAGEMENT PLAN (SUMMARY)
MARITIMES REGION

Introduction

The Maritimes Region inshore lobster fishery is comprised of twelve (12) individual LFAs (27-41; Figure 1), stretching from the northern tip of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, along the Atlantic coastal waters into the Bay of Fundy to the border with the United States. General management characteristics of the inshore fishery are identified in Table 1.

Figure 1 - Lobster Fishing Areas - Maritimes Region

Lobster Fishing Areas - Maritimes Region
Table 1 - Current Tactical Management Measures
LFA Season Trap Limit1 Legal Size (mm) Other Measures
27 May 15 - July 15 275 81  
28 April 30 - June 30 250 84 Max entrance hoop 153mm
29 April 30 - June 30 250 84 Max entrance hoop 153mm
30 May 20 - July 20 250 82.5 Max. CL-135mm (female);
31A April 29 - June 30 250 82.5 Closed window (female),
114-124 mm
31B April 19 - June 20 250 82.5 V-notching2
32 April 19 - June 20 250 82.5 V-notching2
33 Last Mon. Nov - May 31 250 82.5  
34 Last Mon. Nov - May 31 375/400 82.5  
35 Oct 15 - Dec 31;
March 1-July 31
300 82.5  
36 2nd Tues Nov - Jan 14; March 31-June 30 300 82.5  
37 Shared between LFA 36 and 38      
38 2nd Tues Nov - Jun 30 375 82.5  
38B June 30 - Nov 6 375 82.5  
(1) Trap limit is for “A” licence holder. Part-time or “B” licences are allowed 30% and Partnerships 150% the limit of a single full-time licence.
(2) V-notching means there is an active program to V-notch female lobsters. There is a possession restriction of V-notched lobsters in all LFAs except in LFA 27 and LFA 31A.

Stock Assessment and Status

Lobster assessments are conducted periodically through the Regional Assessment Process (RAP) coordinated by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). The target frequency for full assessments for each LFA is every 5 years. The assessments are peer reviewed and information is made public through publications available on the Web in the form of Stock Advisory Reports (SAR), Research Documents and meeting proceedings.

In the absence of direct estimates of population abundance or biomass, lobster assessments develop a number of indicators that can provide knowledge on trends in the stock and assist in determining appropriate management and harvest strategies. The Maritimes Region's Lobster Conservation Strategy (2004-2008) requires that easy to measure and easy to understand “indicators” are developed within each LFA to evaluate the status of the lobster stock. These indicators are supported by a broad representation of stakeholders, and can be used to develop decision rules that will influence management actions based on analytical results from appropriate, accurate and timely data sources.

Precautionary Approach (PA):

Currently there are no direct indicators of abundance available for the lobster fishery and more work is needed to develop more biologically based levels. The only long-term information available for all Maritimes region based LFAs is total landings. It is recognized that landings are not a very sensitive indicator of biomass given the influence of changes in effort, efficiency and catchability. However, until there can be peer reviewed input on the potential use of other indicators this is the only available proxy for abundance that has a significant time series (> 20 years). The potential for using alternate proxies for biomass will be evaluated and candidate reference points for selected indicators will be examined in a Science RAP process.

No introduction of responses will be implemented without prior consultation with industry. Both indicators and responses may vary between LFAs. However, introducing significantly different approaches within neighbouring LFAs may require extended consultations.

These candidate interim thresholds are informed by what has been adopted in the document “A Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach”.

Management Issues

Use of by-catch

License holders in all LFAs may use Green Crab, male Rock Crab or Sculpin by-catch as bait. In addition, male Jonah Crab may be used as bait or landed and sold in LFAs 34-38. Male Rock Crab by-catch may be landed and sold in all areas. Directed commercial fisheries also occur for Rock and Jonah Crab. In order to accurately assess these stocks by-catch information should be collected from other fisheries. Licence holders are required to record the amount of crab used as bait on reporting documents, and all crab landings must be reported via completion of the crab monitoring document.

Tag replacement policy

All lobster licence holder are subject to a trap limit and are issued a yearly set of numerically numbered and dated plastic tags to attach to their traps which match the trap limit. Compliance of the trap limit is monitored through verification of validly tagged traps. When traps are lost, damage, destroyed or need to be replaced, the licence holder must obtain a replacement tag. In an effort to ensure that tag replacement policies are documented and consistent among LFAs the Regional approach is being considered. Tag replacement procedures should ensure that requests are formal, and accurately track the number of traps lost each year.

Reporting requirements

Data provided through the submission of logbooks is the primary method through which catch, effort, landings, value, by-catch, species at risk, and positional information is collected for this fishery. Historically, compliance with reporting requirements was approximately 75%. In 2008 DFO announced that effective for the 2009 season, licences for lobster fishing will not be issued until fish harvesters have filed reporting documents (logbooks) for all months of the previous lobster season.

Logbooks must be submitted to a certified Dockside Monitoring Company (DMC) recognized by DFO Maritimes Region.

Species at Risk Act (SARA)

Effective 2010 all lobster licence holders are required, through conditions of licence, to submit a SARA logbook (available at DFO Licensing Centres) at the end of each fishing season whether or not species at risk are encountered. In addition, when lobster licence holders receive their licence conditions they will be provided with a telephone number (1-866-567-6277) to report sightings of entangled or injured whales.

For more information please visit the Environment Canada Web page.

Objectives

Conservation Objectives

DFO's conservation objectives are as follows:

  • Do not cause unacceptable reduction in productivity so that components can play their role in the functioning of the ecosystem
  • Do not cause unacceptable reduction in biodiversity in order to preserve the structure and natural resilience of the ecosystem
  • Do not cause unacceptable modification to habitat in order to safeguard both physical and chemical properties of the ecosystem.

Social, Cultural and Economic Objectives

One of the Department's social, cultural and economic objectives is to support healthy and prosperous Aboriginal communities, and to ensure respect for the constitutional protection afforded Aboriginal and treaty rights.

A second objective is to help create the circumstances for economically prosperous fisheries.

Strategies

Conservation Strategies

Explicit strategies (with specified references where these have been developed) have been developed for the key pressures imposed by the inshore lobster fishery, as follows.

Productivity

  • Keep lobster fishing mortality moderate
  • Keep fishing mortality moderate for by-catch species, i.e. Jonah crab, rock crab
  • Allow sufficient escapement from exploitation for spawning
  • Limit disturbing activity during important reproductive seasons

Biodiversity

  • Control unintended incidental mortality of North Atlantic right whales
  • Control unintended incidental mortality of other species

Habitat

  • Manage area disturbed of bottom habitat
  • Limit introduction of pollutants
  • Minimize introduction of debris

Social, Cultural and Economic Strategies

In the inshore lobster fishery, the strategy for supporting healthy and prosperous Aboriginal communities is as follows:

  • Respect Aboriginal and treaty rights; facilitate Aboriginal participation in fisheries and associated economic opportunities;

The strategies for achieving the more general prosperity objective are as follows:

  • Offer flexibility in policy and licensing to individual enterprises/licence holders
  • Promote stability in access to resources and allocations
  • Provide internal mechanisms that allow self-adjustment of capacity to resource availability
  • Support certification for sustainability.

Tactical Management Measures for the Duration of the Plan

Productivity

Keep lobster fishing mortality moderate

  • Limited entry
  • Prescribed access areas (LFAs)
  • Trap limits
  • Minimum legal sizes
  • Window in some LFAs (i.e. release of mid-sized lobsters)
  • Seasons (i.e. closures during spawning/molting/extrusion periods)
  • Gear fitted with escape vents and biodegradable panels
  • Studies on improving gear efficiency and selectivity

Keep fishing mortality moderate for by-catch

  • Minimum legal size of Jonah crab
  • Gear fitted with escape vents and biodegradable panels

Allow sufficient escapement from exploitation for spawning

  • Release of berried female lobsters
  • V-notching of berried female lobsters
  • Release of female Jonah and rock crab
  • Allow sufficient escapement from exploitation for spawning

Biodiversity

Control unintended incidental mortality of North Atlantic right whales

  • Voluntary standards of practice developed with the World Wildlife Federation (e.g., avoidance protocols, gear setting techniques)
  • Outreach and information provided to harvesters

Control unintended incidental mortality for other species

  • Gear fitted with escape vents and biodegradable panels
  • Completion of SARA monitoring documents

Habitat

Manage area disturbed of bottom habitat

  • Coral closures
  • Marine Protected Areas
  • Gear handling (weighted traps, proper hauling)

Limit introduction of pollutants

  • Periodic reminders at meetings of proper disposal of waste material
  • Minimize introduction of debris

Prosperity

Facilitate Aboriginal participation in fisheries and associated economic opportunities, and in the management of aquatic resources

  • Provide for food, social and ceremonial fisheries for First Nations
  • Continue to meet the Marshall Response Initiative for the lobster fishery

Offer flexibility in policy and licensing

  • Maintain the allowance for the formation of partnerships and stacking of licences so fleets may rationalize capacity during periods of changing price or abundance

Promote stability in access to resources and allocations

  • Limit entry to fishery through licensing policy so that licence holders may develop long-term business plans

Allow self-adjustment of capacity to resource availability

  • Maintain the allowance for the formation of partnerships and stacking of licences so fleets may rationalize capacity during periods of changing price or abundance

Support certification for sustainability

  • Collect data on discards of some crab species
  • End of season submission of SARA reporting document

Access and Allocation

Commercial access to this resource is managed as a limited entry, competitive fishery. Access is provided through commercial licences identified as category “A” licences, category “B” licences (1/3 the number of traps of a Category “A” licence) or partnerships (1.5 times the number of traps of a Category “A” licence). First Nation organizations are provided commercial access through communal commercial licences equivalent to category “A” licences.

There are no aquaculture licences and no recreational fishery is under consideration.

Shared Stewardship Arrangements

As with other fisheries in Maritimes Region, the advisory committee process is the primary consultation forum for inshore lobster fishery. Committees typically consist of representatives of industry, Aboriginal communities, Provincial governments, community stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, and DFO. Harvester representatives generally include elected port representatives (or an alternate). Advisory committees provide an interface for discussion on issues such as conservation, protection, science, and fisheries management. Many day-to-day management concerns are addressed through the work of these committees. In addition to advisory committees other committees are place to discuss specific matters including science and enforcement, and DFO engages in issue specific consultation, formally and informally, on an on-going basis.

Compliance

For Maritimes region overall, Fishery Officers dedicate a considerable proportion of the overall enforcement effort to the Inshore Lobster Fishery. For the years 2000 to 2008, lobster enforcement accounted for 32% of officer time and has risen closer to 40% in more recent years. C&P may not always be able to sustain this effort in the face of conservation risks elsewhere.

Performance Review

Long-term objectives for the IFMP center on maintaining viability of the stock and existing fleet, promoting shared stewardship and optimizing benefits for participants and local communities. Evaluation criteria include:

  • Collection of Catch and Effort information through monitoring documents
  • Dockside checks by DFO staff
  • Essential data to assess the health of the lobster stock collected and supplied to Science
  • Communications to Industry
  • Feedback from industry
  • Overall adherence to the plan

The development of a precautionary approach with identification of effective measures will be a major performance indicator.

Plan Enhancement

Three areas for enhancement have been identified as follows:

  • Improve data quality
  • Improve protection for mature females
  • Improve governance

Efforts to develop a framework for development and implementation of the Precautionary Approach for this fishery are underway. Progress in this regard is expected to advance the efforts to achieve both conservation and socio-economic goals.