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Science Response 2011/006

Identification of Atlantic surfclam fishing areas off Grosse-Île (Magdalen Islands, Quebec) to avoid impacting lobster habitat


The economy in the Magdalen Islands is based on commercial fishing, but particularly on coastal species. With the decreased access to many offshore stocks (pelagic fish, groundfish, snow crab), the coastal area surrounding the archipelago is increasingly sought, increasing the likelihood of conflicts between different users. In fact, exceptionally serious conflicts took place in 2009 in the Grosse-Île area between Atlantic surfclam and lobster fishermen. In 2009, Atlantic surfclam fishermen, which for several years had focused their activities on the south side of the Islands, began to explore new areas between Pointe-de-l’Est and Grosse-Île. The arrival of these new fishermen using mobile gear in the vicinity of traditional lobster fishing grounds angered lobster fishermen who called for an end to this activity. Their concern was that the recurring passage of dredges could damage lobster habitat and potentially reduce lobster productivity. Fisheries Management is sensitive to this concern and they would like to introduce measures for managing the Atlantic surfclam fishery, and more typically the mobile gear fishery. Fisheries Management from the district office of Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada in Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Québec) requested that DFO Science identifies and accurately locates the bottoms that represent lobster habitats on the one hand and Atlantic surfclam habitats on the other, and based on this information, delineates areas where Atlantic surfclam fishing with a hydraulic dredge would be acceptable.

To answer this question, the results from a multibeam survey conducted in the summer of 2010 by the Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) in the Grosse-Île area, where the conflict appeared between the two groups of fishermen were used. An SSRP was used because Fisheries Management was seeking an advice before the beginning of the Atlantic surfclam fishing season in 2011.

The main conclusions are as follows:

This Science Response report is from the Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Regional Science Special Response Process (SSRP) of June 1, 2011 on the Identification of Atlantic surfclam fishing areas off Grosse-le (Magdalen Islands, Quebec) to avoid impacting lobster habitat.

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