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

Dates of season

Area 12 – April 22, 2016 to July 14, 2016
Area 12E – April 22, 2016 to July 14, 2016
Area 12F – April 13, 2016 to July 14, 2016
Area 19 – July 13, 2016 to September 12, 2016

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. By applying the harvest decision rules of the Precautionary Approach, the TAC for the 2016 fishery will be set at 21,758.96 t based on an exploitation rate of 37%.

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 assist with the financing of the annual scientific trawl survey, which is part of the DFO-Industry joint project to fund science support for effective management of the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab stock. This allocation will be taken off the top of the 2016 TAC.

As in 2015, 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 and supporting research activities. 

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 and the new access, to offer them the option to acquire a share of this allocation for the purpose of funding the 2016 scientific survey.

Area 12 Management Measures

April 7, 2016

2016 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN: CRAB FISHING AREA 12 (12, 18, 25, 26)

Moncton - Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) releases the details of the 2016 Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12 (12, 18, 25, 26) Conservation Harvesting Plan. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in CFA 12 is 19,171.64 t. Refer to the attached table for the TAC distribution.

Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation is applied in this fishery. Quota overruns during the 2016 season by a licence holder will be deducted in 2017 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. 

A change in the quota reconciliation procedure is in effect. DFO will no longer send a letter before the end of the management year to inform those who have experienced quota overruns:

  • For licence holders in the Gulf Region, the Schedule – Quota Table document sent to licence holders each year prior to the beginning of the fishery will reflect any overrun incurred during the previous fishing season; 
  • For licence holders in the Quebec Region, an information note will be attached to their conditions of licence available through the National Online Licensing System will indicate whether or not reconciliation will be applied to their individual quotas. 

Temporary transfers

Starting in the 2016 snow crab fishery, DFO will authorize licence holders who are subject to the owner-operator policy to transfer up to 50% of his or her quota on a temporary basis, within one fishing season. This decision follows the 2014 Ministerial decision to eliminate temporary quota transfers of up to 100% to respect the owner-operator policy which states that licence holders are required to fish their licences personally.

Temporary quota transfer mechanisms outlined in administrative guidelines for fleets under Individual Transferable Quota regimes will need to be revised and approved by DFO to ensure they are compliant with the new limit.           

At-Sea observer coverage

At-sea observer coverage representing 20% of fishing trips will be required for 2016.

Temporary flexibilities options

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 2016 fishing season. 

2016 Management measures

The management measures from 2015 are rolled over in 2016, 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 violet, while the color for replacement tags must be grey.
  • 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 Opening Date Committee of the fishery is assessing conditions and will recommend a targeted opening date. Opening the fishery 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 14, 2016 at 24:00 hrs (ADT). 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.
2016 – Distribution of Total Allowable Catch for Crab Fishing Area 12 (12, 18, 25, 26)
Distribution of the TAC Percentage of TAC 2016 TAC
(metric tons)
First Nations (Sub-Total) 15.816 % 3,032.187
  • New Brunswick
8.700 % 1,667.982
  • Quebec
6.239 % 1,196.064
    • Prince Edward Island
0.877 % 168.141

Traditional Fleets (Sub-Total)

69.307 % 13,287.289
  • Midshore, New Brunswick
39.408 % 7,555.210
  • Midshore, Quebec
21.169 % 4,058.378
  • Midshore, Nova Scotia
1.169 % 224.150
  • Inshore, Nova Scotia
4.002 % 767.249
  • Inshore, Prince Edward Island
3.559 % 682.261

New Access Fleets (Sub-Total)

14.877 % 2,852.222
  • New Brunswick (Sub-Total)
7.129 % 1,366.746
    • MFU
6.162 % 1,181.261
    • ITQ groundfish specialists
0.713 % 136.672
    • Competitive groundfish specialists
0.255 % 48.813
  • Quebec (Sub-Total)
4.837 % 927.332
    • Fixed gear and scallop fleets Gaspe Peninsula
2.166% 415.257
    • Fixed gear and scallop fleet Magdalen Islands
0.950% 182.035
    • Mobile gear fleet Gaspe Peninsula
0.113% 21.607
    • Mobile gear fleet Magdalen Islands
0.451% 86.427
    • Lobster harvesters Gaspe Peninsula : Regroupement des pêcheurs professionnels du sud de la Gaspésie (RPPSG)

0.886%

169.795

    • Lobster harvesters Magdalen Islands :  Association des pêcheurs propriétaires des Iles-de-la-Madeleine (APPIM)

0.272%

52.209

  • Nova Scotia*(Sub-Total)
0.913 % 175.037
  • Prince Edward Island (Sub-Total)
1.999 % 383.297
    • PEIFA
1.867 % 358.004
    • Paul Anderson
0.132 % 25.293

Total (All)

100% 19,171.70

*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 tons corresponding to the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in 2016 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 19,171.70 metric tons.

Area 12E Management Measures                                   

April 7, 2016

2016 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN:  CRAB FISHING AREA 12E

Moncton – Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) announces the 2016 Conservation Harvesting Plan for Crab Fishing Area 12E.

The Total Allowable Catch in Area 12E has been set at 144.90 t and is distributed to the existing fleet based on historic shares of 75% for New Brunswick (108.68 t), and 12.5% respectively for Quebec and Prince Edward Island (18.11 t each). 

Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation is applied in this fishery. Quota overruns during the 2016 season by a licence holder will be deducted in 2017 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. 

A change in the quota reconciliation procedure is in effect. DFO will no longer send a letter before the end of the management year to inform those who have experienced quota overruns:

  • For licence holders in the Gulf Region, the Schedule – Quota Table document sent to licence holders each year prior to the beginning of the fishery will reflect any overrun incurred during the previous fishing season; 
  • For licence holders in the Quebec Region, an information note will be attached to their conditions of licence available through the National Online Licensing System will indicate whether or not reconciliation will be applied to their individual quotas. 

Temporary transfers

Starting in the 2016 snow crab fishery, DFO will authorize licence holders who are subject to the owner-operator policy to transfer up to 50% of his or her quota on a temporary basis, within one fishing season. This decision follows the 2014 Ministerial decision to eliminate temporary quota transfers of up to 100% to respect the owner-operator policy which states that licence holders are required to fish their licences personally. 

Temporary quota transfer mechanisms outlined in administrative guidelines for fleets under Individual Transferable Quota regimes will need to be revised and approved by DFO to ensure they are compliant with the new limit.

Temporary flexibilities options

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 2016 fishing season. 

At-sea observer coverage

At-sea observer coverage representing 20% of fishing trips will be required for 2016. 

2016 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 violet, while the color for replacement tags must be grey.
  • 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 Opening Date Committee of the fishery is assessing conditions and will recommend a targeted opening date. Opening the fishery 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 14, 2016 at 24:00 hrs (ADT). 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.

Area 12F Management Measures                                   

Approved April 7, 2016
Modified April 12, 2016

2016 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN:  CRAB FISHING AREA 12F

Application

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to traditional fish harvesters holding a snow crab license for Area 12F from Quebec and the Gulf Regions.

Fishing Area

In part of Crab fishing area 12 (12F) delimited by the straight lines joining the following points in the order listed:

47º 50' 00''  N         61º 08' 27''  W
47º 26' 45''  N         61º 00' 00''  W
47º 30' 00''  N         60º 43' 20''  W
47º 32' 12''  N         60º 42' 15''  W
47º 18' 30''  N         60º 18' 00''  W
47º 21' 30''  N         60º 16' 00''  W
47º 44' 30''  N         60º 25' 15''  W
48º 02' 30''  N         61º 07' 00''  W
47º 58' 30''  N         61º 07' 30''  W
47º 50' 00''  N         61º 08' 27''  W

Permanent fishing closures

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

Fishing Season

From April 13, 2016 at 6:00 A.M. (ADT) to July 14, 2016, at 23:59 P.M. (ADT).
An opening committee of industry and DFO is in place. The opening date will be confirmed at least 72 hours before the start of the fishery. A Variation Order will be prepared following a confirmation by industry representatives.

It should be reminded that it is the responsibility of the captain to acquaint himself with the marine safety notices published by Environment Canada and Transports Canada as well as with the standards and best practices in marine safety and to take all measures necessary to insure a safe fishery during the period where fishing is authorized.

Quotas

Area 12F is fished by fishers from Quebec (10) who possess 68.75% of the quota and by fishers from the Gulf who possess 31.25% of the quota.

Total allowable catch (TAC) for 2016 has been set at 373.69 tons. The Quebec license holders therefore have access to 256.91 tons while 116.78 tons are allotted to eligible fishers from the Gulf.

Since this TAC is lower than the threshold of the sharing arrangement (544 tonnes), no sharing, as temporary allocations, is in place in 2016.

Management Regime

Individual transferable quotas (ITQ) program: The terms of ITQ management are contained in the Administrative Guidelines of the ITQ Program.

Temporary transfers of ITQ:

Starting in the 2016 snow crab fishery, DFO will authorize quota temporary transfers of up to 50% of licence holders subject to the owner-operator policy within one fishing season. This decision follows the 2014 Ministerial decision to eliminate temporary quota transfers of up to 100% to line up with the owner-operator policy which states that licence holders are required to fish their licences personally.

Temporary quota transfer mechanisms outlined in administrative guidelines for fleets under Individual Transferable Quota regimes will need to be revised and approved by DFO prior to the 2016 fishery to ensure they are compliant with the new limit.

Fishing Gears

Number of authorized traps: Maximum 75 standard traps. Additional traps may be allocated following the approval of permanent transfers, as provided in the administrative guidelines.

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 purple, while the color for replacement tags must be grey. Fishermen must obtain their tags from suppliers approved by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) whose list is available at the following address: /fisheries-peches/sdc-cps/nir-nei/tags-supplier-region-eng.htm.

All traps must be equipped with a biodegradable release mechanism.

Hail prior to Departure

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

At-sea Observers

The at-sea observers’ coverage is funded by the industry and should ensure a minimum of 15% of the fishing expeditions. 

Dockside Monitoring

A hail-in call is required before the arrival at port. Dockside monitoring is mandatory for 100% of landings.

Combined Form (Logbook)

Fishermen must acquire their booklet of Combined Forms from a prequalified supplier, identified by DFO, whose list is available at the following address: /fisheries-peches/sdc-cps/nir-nei/log-suppliers-eng.htm.

The Logbook section must be completed before arrival at port and the completed form must be sent to DFO after each fishing trip.

Vessel monitoring system (VMS)

All fishermen must possess a Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) active and approved by DFO. The data transmission frequency is established at 15 minutes.

Discarding of white crab and adolescent crab

The discarding of white crab and teenager crab (small claws) is allowed. These must be returned to the water to the place from which they were taken and where it is alive, in a manner that causes them the least harm.

Soft-shell crab Monitoring Protocol

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

Vessel

Fishermen may use a boat with a maximum length less than 19.81 m.

Quota reconciliation

DFO has been applying the quota reconciliation for snow crab in Area 12F since the 2011 season. Thus, any individual quota overrun incurred by a license holder in a season will be deducted from his individual quota for the following season on a one-to-one ratio. Fish harvesters are responsible for monitoring their quotas to ensure that catches from their fishing activities fall within their allocations.

A change in the quota reconciliation procedure is in effect. DFO will no longer send a letter before the end of the management year to inform those who have experienced quota overruns:

  • For licence holders in the Gulf Region, the Schedule – Quota Table document sent to licence holders each year prior to the beginning of the fishery will reflect any overrun incurred during the previous fishing season; 
  • For licence holders in the Quebec Region, an information note will be attached to their conditions of licence available through the National Online Licensing System will indicate whether or not reconciliation will be applied to their individual quotas. 

Other Management Measures

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

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 Harvesting 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 bycatches of species identified above must be returned to the water and released in the exact capture location and, if the fish is still alive, with as little harm as possible. 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 license

To obtain their conditions of license, fishermen 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

2016 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN:  CRAB FISHING AREA 19

June 24, 2016

Biomass

Based on the Stock Status Report, the biomass estimate for snow crab in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (SGSL) is 58,808 t.

Exploitation Rate

The exploitation rate for the SGSL is 37%.

SGSL TAC

The Total Allowable Catch for theSGSL is 21,758.96 t.

Area 19 TAC

The Total Allowable Catch for Area 19 is 1,668.73 t

Initial Individual Quota

Boat quota will be directly related to the number of trap shares held by a fish harvester. After utilizing the carried forward and quota reconciliation provisions, the TAC is divided by the 1,699 traps in the fishery, which equals 983 kg (2,167 lbs) per trap share.

  • 18 traps = 17,694 kg (39,009 lbs)
  • 4 traps =   3,932 kg (8,669 lbs)
  • 3 traps =   2,949 kg (6,501 lbs)

Individual Carried 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 carried forward provision. In 2015, this amount was 3,089 kg (6,810 lbs). This measure is to reduce the potential for fish harvesters to exceed their quota.

Individual Quota Reconciliation

Fish harvesters who exceeded their quotas in 2015 have had their 2016 quotas reduced by the same amount. The total amount of quota exceeded by individual licence holders in 2015 was 3,731 kg (8,225 lbs). This amount has been deducted from the 2016 quotas of the applicable harvesters. Again in 2016, any fish harvester who exceeds his / her quota will have their quota reduced in 2017 by the same amount.

Use of Fish Quota

The amount for the use of fish quota is 31,250 kg (68,894 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 13, 2016 at 05:00 hrs to September 12, 2016 at 23:59 hrs

Soft / White Shelled Crab

The soft / white shelled protocol will remain with 9 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, he 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 2016 in the fishery is 1,699.

Transfers

For the 2016 season, when a licence holder’s remaining quota reaches 50% (or less) of their 2016 allocation (after pooling), they will be permitted to transfer their remaining quota to one licence holder and exit the 2016 fishery. Licence holders who transfer their remaining allocation are not required to be on board during fishing. A licence holder who receives a transfer is permitted up to 200 % of their 2016 allocation. Traps are not transferred with the quota. Transfer recipients may only receive one transfer during the season.

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

The number of participants is 156 enterprises.

Observer Coverage

The observer coverage is ten observers for each day of the fishery.

License Fees

The fee is $137 per MT minus 40% or $1,000 whichever is the lesser.

Snow Crab Tagging Study

May 27, 2016

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is informing snow crab fish harvesters fishing in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence that a tagging study is currently being conducted by DFO Science to better understand the movement of snow crab.

What to do if you capture a tagged snow crab?

  • Record the tag number, the date and position of catch (minimum information required for the study) and then return the tagged crab (without cutting off the tag) to the water as soon as possible. Returning the tagged snow crab at sea allows multiple recaptures of the same animal during its lifespan.  
  • The following information would also be beneficial to DFO:
    • depth of water at catch position (fathoms);
    • name of fishing vessel;
    • carapace condition;
    • water temperature; and/or
    • any other information associated with the catch of the tagged snow crab.

The information can be emailed to: Mikio.Moriyasu@dfo-mpo.gc.ca  or sent by mail to the following address:

DFO Snow Crab Section
P.O. Box 5030,
Moncton, New Brunswick
E1C 9B6

Links to other information

An Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for the Snow Crab Fishery in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence in Crab Fishing Areas 12 (12, 18, 25, 26), 12E, 12F and 19 can be found at:   http://www.inter.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/Gulf/FAM/IMFP/2014-Snow-Crab-Gulf-Region