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Precautionary approach harvest decision rules for the lobster fishery in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence: Lobster Fishing Areas 23, 24, 25, 26A, 26B

Fisheries and Oceans Canada Gulf Region, announces the approval of harvest decision rules in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence lobster fishery.

A joint DFO and industry working group was convened to develop harvest decision rules that conform to the precautionary approach (PA) framework for the lobster fishery. The working group submitted a recommendation to the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (sGSL) Lobster Advisory Committee which supported the approach during the meeting. The approved harvest decision rules will be incorporated in the next update of the integrated fisheries management plan.

Following the working group meetings and the comments received at the sGSL Lobster Advisory Committee, the objectives and key considerations of the PA process have been revised and are identified below.

Objectives and key considerations of the PA process of the lobster fishery in the sGSL:

Harvest decision rules for the lobster fishery in the sGSL
Precautionary Approach Reference points based on landings* Harvest Decision Rules

Healthy Zone

Greater than Upper Stock Reference (USR)
(13,798 t +)

No action required under the precautionary approach.
Working towards additional biological reference points.

Cautious Zone

Between the Upper Stock Reference (USR), and Limit Reference Point (LRP)
(13,798t- 6,899t)

Year 1: Indicator < USR: Science advice requested on stock status. Consultations will take place with Aboriginal organizations and industry on fishing effort reductions.

Year 2: Fishing effort reduction proportional to the landings’ decline according to the science advice and further consultations will occur. Request for a stock assessment based on indicators independent from landings.

Year 3+: Fishing effort adjustments, if required, based on the stock assessment until the stock is out of the cautious zone. Continue consultations.

*food, social and ceremonial fisheries will continue.

Critical Zone

Below Limit Reference Point (LRP)
(< 6,899t)

Minimal removal rates. Closure of commercial fisheries. Consultations will continue with Aboriginal organizations and industry. Development of a rebuilding plan and implementation measures to promote stock recovery and growth


Values of lobster landings corresponding to the proxy for biomass at maximum sustainable yield (BMSY), the upper stock reference (USR), and the limit reference point (LRP) for the entire southern Gulf of St. Lawrence lobster stock.

Reference Points for the sGSL Lobster Stock
Period Bmsy proxy USR (80% Bmsy) LRP (40% Bmsy) 2011 landings Stock status zone
1974-2009 17,247 t 13,798 t 6,899t 19,062 t Healthy


The latest stock status update done by DFO Science indicates that preliminary landings in 2015 have increased since 2011 to 27,462 t. Reported landings have reached a historical high at 28,186 t in 2014 positioning the sGSL lobster stock in the Healthy Zone.

For more information

Josiane Massiéra
Resource Management, Regional Headquarters
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Region
Moncton, NB
(506) 851-7290

Sandra Comeau
Resource Management, Eastern NB
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Region
Tracadie, NB
(506) 395-7765

Ben Moore
Resource Management, PEI
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Region
Charlottetown, PEI
(902) 370-7094

Alan Dwyer
Resource Management, Gulf NS
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Gulf Region
Antigonish, NS
(902) 735-7114

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