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

Dates of season

Area 12 – April 25, 2017 to July 28, 2017
Area 12E – April 20, 2017 to July 14, 2017
Area 12F – April 19, 2017 to July 14, 2017
Area 19 – July 13, 2017 to September 13, 2017

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 (SGSL). By applying the harvest decision rules of the Precautionary Approach, the TAC for the 2017 fishery will be set at 43,822.09 t based on an exploitation rate of 44.2%.

Scientific Survey Quota

The Department would like to advise you that under Section 10 of the Fisheries Act, a quota of 495 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 SGSL snow crab stock. This allocation will be taken off the top of the 2017 TAC.

As in 2016, 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 Indigenous communities and the new access, to offer them the option to acquire a share of this allocation for the purpose of funding the 2017 scientific survey.

Increased Access for Indigenous communities

Given the significant increase in the SGSL snow crab TAC in 2017, a one-time allocation up to 1,100 t will be taken from the CFAs 12 and 19 TAC for Indigenous communities in the area to increase Indigenous access to the fishery.

Distribution of the TAC

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:

Distribution of the TAC
  Quota 2017 (t)
Area 12 39,531.64
Area 12E 199.30
Area 12F 680.24
Area 19 2,915.91
Scientific survey quota 495.00
Total 43,822.09

Other information

Details on management measures for each Crab Fishing Area will follow in separate Notices to Fish Harvesters.  


Area 12 Management Measures

April 19, 2017

2017 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN:  CRAB FISHING AREA 12 (12, 18, 25, 26)

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) releases the details of the 2017 Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12 (12, 18, 25, 26) Conservation Harvesting Plan. 

Quota

The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in CFA 12 is 39,531.64 t. Details of the sharing of the TAC can be found in the CFA 12 snow crab administrative list. Also, details of the distribution of increased access for First Nation communities will be described in the CFA 12 snow crab administrative list once they have been confirmed.     

Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation is applied in this fishery. Quota overruns during the 2017 season by a licence holder will be deducted in 2018 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. 

Temporary transfers

Licence holders who are subject to the owner-operator policy may transfer up to 50% of his or her quota on a temporary basis, within one fishing season. 

At-Sea observer coverage

At-sea observer coverage representing 20% of fishing trips will be required for 2017.

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 2017 fishing season. The trap limit for partnerships and trios will be equal to the total traps of one licence, plus 50% of that number.

2017 Management measures

The management measures in 2017 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 pink, while the color for replacement tags must be orange.
  • 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.
  • New trap limits are in place starting in 2017:
    • Licence holders holding less than 0.22% of the CFA 12 TAC will be permitted 75 traps. For 2017, this limit applies to licence holders who are part of the following fleets:
      • Prince Edward Island Inshore Traditional Fleet
      • Area 18 Inshore Traditional Fleet
      • New access licence holders with individual quotas
    • Licence holders holding 0.44% or more of the CFA 12 TAC will be permitted 174 traps*. For 2017, this represents licence holders that are part of the traditional midshore fleet.
      * Note:  Additional traps may be permitted in accordance with the individual transferable quota program administrative guidelines.  
    • New access groups who further distribute their quotas or designate operators will be authorized one trap per 0.54 tonne (or 1 trap per 1,200 pounds). 
      • Traps may be distributed to each licence holder/operator the way that is most favorable to them; however, a maximum of 174 traps per licence holder/operator must be respected. 
    • First Nations have the ability to designate operators under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. An approach, similar to new access groups who further distribute their quotas will be used in discussion between DFO and the aboriginal communities.
  • In 2017, the snow crab fishery could be subject to a fishing trip catch limit. Industry will be notified by DFO in the event that catch limits are established.
  • 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, 2017 at 24:00 hrs (ADT). All gear must be removed from the water by the end of the day July 14. 

Area 12E Management Measures

April 19, 2017

2017 - SOUTHERN GULF OF ST. LAWRENCE SNOW CRAB CONSERVATION HARVESTING PLAN: CRAB FISHING AREA 12E

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) releases the details of the 2017 Conservation Harvesting Plan for Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12E. 

Quota

The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in CFA 12E has been set at 199.30 t and is distributed to the existing fleet based on historic shares of 75% for New Brunswick (149.473 t), and 12.5% respectively for Quebec and Prince Edward Island (24.913 t each). 

Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation is applied in this fishery. Quota overruns during the 2017 season by a licence holder will be deducted in 2018 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. 

Temporary transfers

Licence holders who are subject to the owner-operator policy may transfer up to 50% of his or her quota on a temporary basis, within one fishing season. 

At-Sea observer coverage

At-sea observer coverage representing 20% of fishing trips will be required for 2017.

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 2017 fishing season. The trap limit for partnerships and trios will be equal to the total traps of one licence, plus 50% of that number.

2017 Management measures

The management measures in 2017 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 pink, while the color for replacement tags must be orange.    
  • 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.
  • 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 opening date of the snow crab fishery in CFA 12E for the 2017 season has been set at 21:00 hrs ADT Thursday, April 20, 2017 following the recommendation of representatives of the fleet.
    Furthermore, it is reminded that, during the period where fishing is authorized, it is the responsibility of the licence holder to take into account the marine safety notices issued, among others, by Environment Canada and Transport Canada, as well as the standards and best practices in marine safety, and to take all measures to ensure a safe fishery.
  • The fishery will close on July 14, 2017 at 24:00 hrs (ADT). All gear must be removed from the water by the end of the day July 14. 

Area 12F Management Measures

Approved April 13, 2017

2017 - 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

An opening committee of industry and DFO is in place. The opening date will be confirmed by a Notice to Fish Harvesters before the start of the fishery and a Variation Order following a confirmation by industry representatives and an agreement on the opening date.

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

A sharing arrangement of the TAC is in place between the traditional fleet and to the eligible fish harvesters from the Quebec Region new access fleet and to multi-species organizations from the Gulf Region representing independent Core fish harvesters. According to this sharing arrangement, the excess of a threshold of 544 t, is shared on a ratio of 60%-40% to the traditional fleet and the temporary allocations respectively. Also, the traditional shares, 68.75% for Quebec Region and 31.25% for Gulf Region, are applied to the temporary allocations.

Total allowable catch (TAC) for 2017 has been set at 680.24 tons. The traditional fleet has access to 625.74 tons (which gives 430.20 tons for the Québec Region and 195.54 tons for the Gulf Region) while 54.50 tons are allotted to temporary allocations holders (which gives 37.47 tons for the Québec Region and 17.03 tons for the Gulf Region).

Management Regime

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

Temporary transfers of ITQ:

DFO authorizes quota temporary transfers of up to 50% of regular licence holders subject to the owner-operator policy within one fishing season.

Fishing Gear

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.

The maximum number of traps authorized for temporary allocations is as follows:

  • Less than or equal to 11.34 t (25 000 pounds): 35 traps
  • Between 11.34 t and 18.14 t (25-40 000 pounds) : 50 traps
  • Between 18.14 and 31.75 t (40-70 000 pounds) : 65 traps
  • Above or equal to 31.75 t (70 000 pounds) : 75 traps

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 pink, while the color for replacement tags must be orange. 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 a minimum of 15% of the fishing expeditions is necessary.

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

All fishermen must possess a Vessel Monitoring System 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 (65 feet).

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.

Other Management Measures

Partnership:

Partnership agreements (buddy up) are authorized: Two area 12F regular license holders (traditional fleet) may use a same vessel, with 100% of the traps of one licence holder and 50% of the traps of the other licence holder.

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 Planis 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.


Snow Crab Tagging Study

April 19, 2017

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, sent by text to (506) 852-0022 or sent by mail to the following address:

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


2017 – Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Snow Crab Trap and Vessel Limits in Crab Fishing Area 12 (12, 18, 25, 26)

February 21, 2017

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) releases changes in the trap and vessel limits in Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12 (12, 18, 25, 26) of the snow crab fishery. 

Trap Limits based on Individual Shares

DFO has consulted industry and is announcing the following changes in trap limits starting in the 2017 snow crab fishery:

  • Licence holders holding less than 0.22% of the CFA 12 TAC will be permitted 75 traps. For 2017, this limit applies to licence holders who are part of the following fleets:
    • Prince Edward Island Inshore Traditional Fleet
    • Area 18 Inshore Traditional Fleet
    • New access licence holders with individual quotas
  • Licence holders holding 0.44% or more of the CFA 12 TAC will be permitted 174 traps*. For 2017, this represents licence holders that are part of the traditional midshore fleet.
    An additional 2,736 traps is being added to the traditional midshore fleet and will be distributed equally between licence holders providing an additional 24 traps per licence holder and resulting in a total of 174 traps. The Department will further evaluate the possibility of reverting the traditional midshore fleet’s trap limit to 150 traps in the event of a drastic total allowable catch (TAC) decrease.
    * Note:  Additional traps may be permitted in accordance with the individual transferable quota program administrative guidelines  
  • New access groups who further distribute their quotas or designate operators will be authorized one trap per 0.54 tonne (or 1 trap per 1,200 pounds). 
    • Traps may be distributed to each licence holder/operator the way that is most favorable to them; however, a maximum of 174 traps per licence holder/operator must be respected. 

These new limits will allow better equity in the distribution of traps between the fleets and will prevent a high increase in total traps in situations of TAC increases. Licence holders who previously acquired additional traps as a result of past rationalization processes will be permitted to maintain those additional traps. DFO will develop, in collaboration with industry, a trap limit formula based on a scaled approach for licence holders who could increase in the future their individual quota/individual transferable quota between 0.22% and 0.44% of the CFA 12 TAC.  

First Nations

First Nations have the ability to designate operators under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. As a result, an approach similar to new access groups who further distribute their quotas will be used in discussions between DFO and the aboriginal communities. 

Vessels Limits

Starting with the 2017 fishery, the limit on the total number of vessels will be eliminated. 


Links to other information