2021 - Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Snow Crab Conservation Harvesting Plan Crab Fishing Area 12E

Moncton and Quebec – March 29, 2021

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) releases the details of the 2021 Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12E Conservation Harvesting Plan.


The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in CFA 12E is 288.45 t and is distributed to the existing fleet based on historic shares of 75% for New Brunswick (216.337 t), and 12.5% respectively for Quebec and Prince Edward Island (36.056 t each).

Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation is applied in this fishery. Quota overruns during the 2021 season by a licence holder will be deducted in 2022 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 has 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 initial quota on a temporary basis, within one fishing season.

Partnership arrangements

The creation of partnerships is permitted. The trap limit for partnerships will be equal to the total traps of one licence, plus 50%.

New in 2021: Crew registry

The inshore regulations require inshore commercial licence holders, and their approved Substitute Operators, to keep records of all the crew members working aboard the vessel on every fishing trip. These records must be maintained by the licence holder for a period of five (5) years. Refer to the March 17th, 2021 Notice to Fish Harvesters for further details and contact the Licensing Office at 1-855-634-2335 or gulfinfogolfe@dfo-mpo.gc.ca for more information.

2021 management measures

Unless indicated otherwise, existing management measures remain in place. Please refer to your Snow crab licence conditions for further details. The management measures in 2021 include, amongst others:

  • At-sea observer coverage representing 20% of fishing trips will be required for 2021.
  • The soft-shell crab protocol.
  • 100% dockside monitoring.
  • Only one valid annual tag per trap. Tags from previous years must be removed. The color for original tags must be light brown, while the color for replacement tags must be pale blue.
  • Paper logbook requirement is maintained. Refer to the following list of Prequalified Logbook Suppliers.
  • Landings weighed in kilograms on an electronic scale with a memory.
  • Maximum mesh size of 75 mm.
  • Gear marking requirements are maintained.
  • 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 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 use of a vessel monitoring system (VMS) with five (5) minutes reporting intervals.  Harvesters are asked to register their VMS with DFO as soon as possible. Here’s information on developing a new VMS standard.
  • 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 June 30, 2021 at 23:59 hrs (Atlantic Daylight Time).

2021 management measures to minimize interactions with North Atlantic Right Whales

The management measures to minimize interactions with North Atlantic Right Whales (NARW) can be found here.

Permanent fishing closures

Coral and sponge conservation areas:  On December 15, 2017, Fisheries and Oceans Canada created eleven coral and sponge conservation areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence in order to protect areas with high concentrations of sponges and sea pens.                                                    

All fishing activities that use bottom-contact gear or gear designed to come into contact with the sea bed, including but not limited to bottom trawls, dredges, gillnets, bottom longlines, bottom seines and traps, are forbidden in the conservation areas.   

For more information and maps of the eleven coral and sponge conservation areas, please visit the following website: Coral and Sponge Conservation Measures in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

For more information:

Josiane Massiéra
Resource Management
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Moncton, New Brunswick
Jérôme Beaulieu
Resource Management
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Quebec, Quebec
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