Snow Crab in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence – Areas 12, 12E, 12F and 19

Dates of season (subject to change)

Area 12 – May 11, 2015 to July 21, 2015*
Area 12E – May 8, 2015 to July 21, 2015*
Area 12F – May 15, 2015 to July 21, 2015*
Area 19 – July 15, 2015 to September 14, 2015

* Initial closing date: July 15, 2015. Season extended until July 21, 2015

Precautionary Approach Harvest Decision Rules and Total Allowable Catch

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announces the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for snow crab in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. For 2015, the TAC will be set at 26,036 t based on an exploitation rate of 38.552%, as specified in the harvest decision rules. 

The distribution of the TAC in each of the management zones in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence and the scientific survey allocation is as follows:

Area 12 - 22,844.24 t
Area 12E - 192.27 t
Area 12F - 502.47 t
Area 19 - 2,097.02 t
Scientific survey quota - 400.00 t
Total - 26,036.00 t

Scientific Survey Quota

The Department would like to advise you that under Section 10 of the Fisheries Act, a quota of 400 t of snow crab has been identified to pay the costs associated with the annual scientific survey and the analysis of data supporting the scientific assessment of this resource. This allocation will be taken off the top of the 2015 TAC.

As in 2014, a joint project agreement will be in place with eight snow crab fish harvesters associations who expressed interest in the project and will manage and transfer the necessary funds to carry out DFO’s scientific survey. 

The eight associations will designate the Association des Crabiers Acadiens (ACA) to manage the associated quota. The ACA will be contacting the various groups representing the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence stakeholders, as well as First Nations, to offer them the option to acquire a share of this allocation for the purpose of funding the 2015 scientific survey.

Temporary Quota Transfers

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has released the details on snow crab temporary quota transfers. 

The one-year transitional approach implemented in 2014 authorizing temporary quota transfers (up to 100%) is being extended for the 2015 fishing season for fleets that require this interim measure. This measure will be authorized for fleets currently undergoing rationalization or restructuring processes as well as for current operational needs that support the economic viability of licence holders.

However, the Department would like to inform industry to expect changes to the level of temporary transferability for the 2016 season. All fleets will be required to be compliant with the Owner-Operator Policy before the beginning of the 2016 snow crab fishery, with respect to how allocations are being fished.  

The Department will continue to work with the various affected fleets to support them in adopting new administrative mechanisms that align with the Owner-Operator Policy. Additionally, temporary quota transfer mechanisms outlined in administrative guidelines for fleets under Individual Transferable Quota regimes will need to be revised prior to the 2016 fishery.

Area 12 Management Measures

April 17, 2015

2015 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN: CRAB FISHING AREA 12 (12, 18, 25, 26)

Moncton - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has released the details of the 2015 Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12 (12, 18, 25, 26) Conservation Harvesting Plan. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in CFA 12 is 22,844.24 t. Refer to the attached table for the TAC distribution.

Quota reconciliation
As in 2014, there will be quota reconciliation in this fishery. Quota overruns during the 2015 season by a licence holder will be deducted in 2016 on a one-for-one basis. It is the responsibility of the licence holder to respect the allocation granted while taking into consideration transfers and landings and to make the necessary arrangements before departing for a fishing expedition to have quota to cover expected catches for the expedition. 

At-sea observer coverage
At-sea observer coverage representing 20% of fishing trips will be required for 2015.

Temporary Flexibilities Options
Temporary quota transfers (up to 100%), the creation of partnerships and trios, as well as the waiver of the 30-day minimum policy for transfer of vessels, will be permitted for the 2015 fishing season. More details on temporary quota transfers are available in the Notice to Fish Harvesters published on April 10, 2015.

2015 Management Measures
The management measures from 2014 are rolled over in 2015, which include, amongst others:

  • The soft-shell crab protocol.
  • Only one valid tag per trap. Tags from previous years must be removed. The color for original tags must be yellow, while the color for replacement tags must be pale blue.
  • 100% dockside monitoring.
  • Landings weighed in kilograms on an electronic scale with a memory.
  • The use of a vessel monitoring system (VMS). Harvesters are asked to register their VMS with DFO as soon as possible.
  • Maximum mesh size of 75 mm.
  • Authorized release of commercial-sized male crab with small claws back in the water.
  • A delayed season opening to June 1 applies to an area in CFA 12 for one nautical mile bordering on CFA 19. The buffer zone between CFAs 18 and 19 remains in effect.
  • The Irving Whale Exclusion Zone is maintained.
  • For proper management and control purposes, the targeted total number of vessels for all fleets on the water at any time is 150 for the Gulf Region and 75 for the Quebec Region.  
  • For proper management and control purposes, traps will be issued on the same basis as in the past:
    • 150 for midshore vessels;
    • 75 for the traditional inshore Prince Edward Island fleet;
    • 75 for CFA 18;
    • New access and First Nations: those receiving quotas of up to 50 t will be entitled to 75 traps, while fish harvesters receiving over 50 t will be able to use 150 traps;
    • Additional traps may be permitted in accordance with the individual quota transfer program administrative guidelines or regional temporary flexibility options in effect.  
  • The industry-led Committee of the opening date of the fishery is assessing conditions and will recommend a targeted opening date. Opening the fishery on this target date will be subject to weather conditions and to DFO operational requirements. The opening date will be confirmed in a separate Notice to Fish Harvesters and by the issuance of a variation order. 
  • The fishery will close on July 15, 2015. All gear must be removed from the water by the end of the day July 14. Extensions to the fishing season will not be considered.
2015 Distribution of Total Allowable Catch for Crab Fishing Area 12 (12,18,25,26)
Distribution of the TAC Percentage of TAC 2015 TAC
(metric tons)
First Nations (Sub-Total) 15.816 % 3,613.045
New Brunswick 8.700 % 1,987.507
Quebec 6.239 % 1,425.187
Prince Edward Island 0.877 % 200.351
Traditional Fleets (Sub-Total) 69.184 % 15,804.571
Midshore, New Brunswick 39.408 % 9,002.517
Midshore, Quebec 21.169 % 4,835.814
Midshore, Nova Scotia 1.169 % 267.088
Inshore, Nova Scotia 4.002 % 914.226
Inshore, Prince Edward Island 3.436 % 784.926
New Access Fleets (Sub-Total) 15 % 3,426.857
New Brunswick (Sub-Total) 7.129 % 1,628.559
  • MFU
6.161 % 1,407.542
  • ITQ groundfish specialists
0.713 % 162.853
  • Competitive groundfish specialists
0.255 % 58.164
Quebec (Sub-Total) 4.837 % 1,104.976
  • Fixed gear and scallop fleets Gaspe Peninsula
2.1660% 494.806
  • Fixed gear and scallop fleet Magdalen Islands
0.9495% 216.906
  • Mobile gear fleet Gaspe Peninsula
0.1127% 25.745
  • Mobile gear fleet Magdalen Islands
0.4508% 102.982
  • Lobster harvesters Gaspe Peninsula : Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG)
0.8857% 202.331
  • Lobster harvesters Magdalen Islands :  Association des pêcheurs propriétaires des Iles-de-la-Madeleine (APPIM)
0.2723% 62.205
Nova Scotia*(Sub-Total) 0.913 % 208.568
Prince Edward Island (Sub-Total) 2.122 % 484.755
  • PEIFA
1.867 % 426.584
  • PEI Groundfishermen’s Association
0.255 % 58.171
Total (All) 100% 22,844.473

* Distribution of quota will be provided by the Gulf-Nova Scotia Area Office

The table contains three columns. The first column lists the sectors of the fishing fleet by grouping such as First Nations, traditional fleets and new access fleets. Subtotals are indicated by associations, group or provinces. The second column lists the percentage share of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) associated to the list in the first column. The third column lists the metric tonnes corresponding to the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in 2015 associated to the list in the first column. The all fleets total of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12 (12, 18, 25, 26) is 22,844.473 metric tonnes.

Area 12E Management Measures

April 17, 2015

2015 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN: CRAB FISHING AREA 12E

Moncton - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announced the 2015 Conservation Harvesting Plan for Crab Fishing Area 12E. 

The Total Allowable Catch in Area 12E has been set at 192.27 t and is distributed to the existing fleet based on historic shares of 75% for New Brunswick (144.203 t), and 12.5% respectively for Quebec and Prince Edward Island (24.034 t each). 

At-sea observer coverage
At-sea observer coverage representing 20% of fishing trips will be required for 2015. 

2015 Management Measures

  • 100% dockside monitoring.
  • The use of a vessel monitoring system (VMS). Harvesters are asked to register their VMS with DFO as soon as possible.
  • The soft-shell protocol.
  • Only one valid tag per trap. Tags from previous years must be removed. The color for original tags must be yellow, while the color for replacement tags must be pale blue.
  • Authorized release of commercial-sized male crab with small claws back in the water.
  • Maximum mesh size of 75 mm.
  • Landings weighed in kilograms on an electronic scale with a memory.
  • For proper management and control purposes, traps will be issued as described in the individual transferable quota (ITQ) program:
    • ITQ up to 45 tons:  100 traps
    • ITQ > 45 to 68 tons:  125 traps
    • ITQ > 68 to 90 tons:  150 traps
    • ITQ > 90 tons:  175 traps

The industry-led Committee of the opening date of the fishery is assessing conditions and will recommend a targeted opening date. Opening the fishery on this target date is subject to weather conditions and to DFO operational requirements. The opening date will be confirmed in a separate Notice to Fish Harvesters and by the issuance of a variation order.

The fishery will close on July 15, 2015. All gear must be removed from the water by the end of the day July 14. Requests for extensions will not be considered.

Area 12F Management Measures

2015 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN: CRAB FISHING AREA 12F

April 17, 2015

Application
This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) for snow crab applies to the Area 12F snow crab licence holders from Quebec and Gulf Regions.

Fishing areas
Subject to any Variation Order and based on valid Conditions of licence, the authorized fishing area is part of Crab fishing area 12 (12F) situated in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Permanent fishing closures
The fishery remains prohibited in a buffer zone that separates Areas 12F and 19.

Fishing seasons
An industry-led committee of the opening date of the fishery will assess environmental conditions and recommend a targeted opening date. Opening the fishery on this targeted date is subject to weather conditions and to DFO operational requirements. The opening date will be confirmed through a Notice to fish harvesters and a Variation Order.

The fishery will close on July 15, 2015; all gear must be removed from the water by July 14 at 23:59 h (ADT).

Quotas
As indicated in the April 10, 2015 Notice to fish harvesters, the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in Area 12F for 2015 is 502.47 tonnes and is allocated to the traditional fleet based on historical shares or 68.75% for the Quebec region and 31.25% for the Gulf Region. Since this TAC is lower than the limit of the sharing arrangement (544 tonnes threshold), there will be no temporary allocations in 2015.

Management Regime
Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ).

Fishing Gear
Number of traps: The maximum number of traps for the traditional fleet is 75. Additional traps may be allocated following the approval of temporary or permanent transfers, as provided in the administrative guidelines of the ITQ program.

Trap mesh size: maximum 75 mm.

Trap tagging: One valid tag per trap is required. Tags from previous years must be removed. The color for original tags must be yellow, while the color for replacement tags must be pale blue.

Hail Prior To Departure
The hail prior to departure must be placed at least 12 hours prior to departure for a fishing trip.

At-sea Observer
Industry-funded at-sea observer coverage at a minimum of 15% applies to this group.

Before the beginning of a fishing trip, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with a company designated by DFO with regard to at-sea observer coverage.

Dockside Monitoring
The Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) applies to 100% of the landings.

Before the beginning of a fishing trip, the licence holder must have entered into an agreement with a dockside monitoring company legally designated by Fisheries and Oceans Canada for the hail in and the landing of fish.

Combined form / Logbook / Purchase Slip
The Combined form must be obtained from a prequalified supplier identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Logbook portion must be properly completed for each fishing day, before arriving to port.

Vessel Monitoring System
A vessel monitoring system, operational and approved by DFO, is mandatory. Signal transmission interval is 15 minutes.

Catch monitoring and test fishery
White crab and adolescent crab: Releasing white-shell and adolescent crab is permitted, as stipulated in the conditions of licence.

Soft shell crab: A protocol for soft shell crab by sector is in place.

Vessel
Vessels with a length overall less than 19.81 metres (65 feet) may be used.

Partnership (combining of licences)
Partnership agreements (buddy up) are authorized: Two area 12F regular license holders (traditional fleet) may use a same vessel, with 200% of the number of traps normally permitted.

An Area 12F licence holder from Quebec may, upon request and subject to various conditions, use the vessel of an Area 12 licence holder from Quebec to fish in Area 12F.

Quota reconciliation
Quota reconciliation is applied in this fishery. Therefore, all individual quotas overrun during a given season by a licence holder will be deducted from his or her individual quota the following year on a one for one basis. The licence holder is responsible for adhering to the quantity he or she is allocated (ITQ and IQ) by taking into account his or her transfers and landings and making the necessary arrangements before leaving on a fishing expedition to have the necessary quota to cover presumed harvest.

Species At Risk Act
Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act (SARA), no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture, take, possess, collect, buy, sell or trade an individual or any part or derivate of a wildlife species designated as extirpated, endangered or threatened.

At the time this Management Plan is promulgated, the Gulf of St.-Lawrence and the Atlantic species targeted by these measures are the following ones: Spotted wolffish, Northern wolffish, Leatherback Turtle and Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population). New species could be added in the course of the year.

All by-catch of species identified above must be returned to the water and released in the exact capture location and, if the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm. In addition, information regarding interactions with species at risk, including species mentioned above as well as the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Blue Whale (Atlantic population) and the Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population) must be recorded in the Species at risk section of the logbook.

Conditions of licence
To obtain Conditions of licence, fish harvesters must access the National Online Licensing System. For National Online Licensing System assistance, please contact customer support by phone at 1-877-535-7307 or by email at fishing-peche@dfo-mpo.gc.ca.

Area 19 Management Measures

Area 19 Management Measures

2015 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN: CRAB FISHING AREA 19 

July 7, 2015

Total Allowable Catch
The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for Area 19 is 2,097.02 t.

Initial Individual Quota  
Boat quota will be directly related to the number of trap shares held by a fish harvester. After utilizing the carry-forward and quota reconciliation provisions, the TAC is divided by the 1,699 traps in the fishery, which equals 1,234.5 kg (2,722 lbs) per trap share.

  • 18 traps =  22,221 kg (48,989 lbs)
  • 4 traps =   4,938 kg (10,886 lbs)
  • 3 traps =   3,704 kg (8,166 lbs)

Carry-Forward Provision
On an annual basis, fish harvesters have the opportunity to leave up to 113 kg (250 lbs) of their quota in the water as per the carry-forward provision. In 2014, this amount was 2,563 kg (5,650 lbs). This measure is to reduce the potential for fish harvesters to exceed their quota.

Quota Reconciliation      
Fish harvesters who exceeded their quotas in 2014 have had their 2015 quotas reduced by the same amount. The total amount of quota exceeded by individual licence holders in 2014 was 2,690 kg (5,930 lbs). This amount has been deducted from the 2015 quotas of the applicable harvesters. Again in 2015, any fish harvester who exceeds his/her quota will have their quota reduced in 2016 by the same amount.

Use of Fish Quota
Amount 32,700 kg (72,091 lbs)
Resource Management at the GNS Area Office will transfer this allocation to the individual Area 19 licence holders as notified by the Area 19 Snow Crab Fishermen’s Association.

Regular Season
July 15, 2015 at 05:00 hrs to September 14, 2015 at 23:59 hrs.

Soft / White Shelled Crab
The soft / white shelled protocol will remain with nine sectors.

  • Daily report for soft / white shelled crab percentages will be sent to the association when the average percentage of soft/white shelled crab exceeds 10% in a given sector.
  • Consistent with the soft shell protocol below, should the incidence of soft/white shelled crab (durometer readings less than 72 units) taken at sea exceed 20 % for a 15 day period in a given sector, the following action will be taken:
    • A Notice will be broadcast and the sector will close for the remainder of the season.

Communication of Soft / White Shelled Closures
When a sector is closed in accordance with the Soft / White Shelled Crab Protocol, you must stop fishing when notified by one of the following methods:

  • Broadcasting the notice over commercial or marine radio station, a radio station operated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (“Department”) or radio station located on a vessel under contract to the Department that broadcasts in the area or vicinity of the area affected by the closure notice; or
  • Transmitting the notice by electronic means to the licence holder; or
  • Having a fishery officer or fishery guardian give oral notice thereof.

The Association will strive to alert their membership as efficiently as possible.

Trap Limit                       
The maximum number of traps in 2015 in the fishery is 1,699.

Transfers
For the 2015 season, fish harvesters will be permitted to transfer their allocation, one time, before the season begins. Fish harvesters are permitted to combine 26 trap share allocations per vessel. Fish harvesters who transfer their allocation are not required to be on board during fishing.

Pooling                           
Fish harvesters are permitted to pool their allocations. An operator per licence is required to be on board during fishing. Fish harvesters are permitted to combine up to 26 trap allocations per vessel.

Participants
A total of 156 enterprises.

At-Sea Observer Coverage
Ten observers for each day of the fishery.

Link to other information