2021 Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) NAFO Divisions 2GHJ3K Greenland Halibut (Turbot) fishery fixed gear fleet

The 2021 CHP for Greenland Halibut was developed in consultation with industry stakeholders and represents an approved plan for the upcoming fishing season.  At any time during the validity period of this plan, should circumstances deem it necessary, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans reserves the right to make changes to the management measures contained therein, in order to facilitate an orderly fishery in accordance with conservation objectives.

1. Eligibility

  1. Participation in the NAFO Divisions 2GHJ3K fixed gear Greenland halibut (turbot) fishery is restricted to inshore groundfish licence holders with vessels <27.4 m (90 feet), with a homeport in NAFO Divisions 2GHJ3KL.
  2. Groundfish licence holders in NAFO Division 4R are eligible to participate but are restricted to fishing in NAFO Division 2J.

2. Fishing areas

  1. This CHP governs the directed Greenland halibut fishery in NAFO Divisions 2GHJ3K for the management cycle which runs from January 1 to December 31 annually.

3. Fishing restrictions

  1. Gillnets          
    1. Fishing is not permitted within inshore and offshore Crab Management Areas.  This is a conservation measure to protect crab as it can become entangled and die in the gillnets used in the Greenland halibut fishery.
    2. In NAFO Divisions 2GH, fishing is not permitted in water depths less than 293 meters (160 fathoms).
    3. In NAFO Division 3K, fishing is not permitted in water depths less than 549 meters (300 fathoms).
    4. In NAFO Division 2J, fishing is not permitted within 37 km (20 nautical miles) from land when fishing south of 54 degrees 40 minutes North latitude.
    5. In NAFO Division 2J fishing with gillnets is not permitted in water depths less than 732 meters (400 fathoms)
  2. Longlines
    1. Fishing with longlines is permitted but not on the same fishing trip when fishing with gillnets. The longline fishery for Greenland halibut is permitted in all areas in water depths greater than 293 meters (160 fathoms) outside the inshore Crab Management Areas.
    2. In NAFO Division 2J, fishing is not permitted within 37 km (20 nautical miles) from land when fishing south of 54 degrees 40 minutes North latitude.

4. Catch limitations

  1. Given there is limited quota available to the fleet, expression of interests will be sought by DFO to determine the level of participation in the fishery
  2. Expression of interest will ask fishers to identify whether they plan to fish in either NAFO Divisions 2J3K or NAFO Division 3L. The catch limit for a permit to fish in NAFO Division 3L will be between 3,629 kgs and 5,670 kgs in round weight (8,000 lbs and 12,500 lbs) greater than the permit to fish in NAFO Divisions 2+3K, pending quota availability.
  3. Harvesters must indicate the gear they plan to fish, as well as the if they want to be included in the draw in the event there is quota remaining.
  4. Permit catch limits will be set once all expression of interests have been received. Harvesters will be given an opportunity to decline the permit prior to the start of the fishery. Permits will be valid for 2 months from the opening date.
  5. If necessary, a draw will be administered for permits to catch the remaining uncaught quota after the initial permits have expired.
  6. The maximum amount to be harvested under the draw will be 31,500 lbs (Round Weight) per permit.
  7. In an effort to ensure that the highest possible amount of Greenland halibut is landed under the initial permit, the Department will over allocate the TAC by not more than 15% and will close the fishery early should it appear likely that the TAC will be taken. This is meant to address issues with non-participation and inconsistent landings in this fishery.
  8. Harvesters who participated in the Greenland halibut fishery on the initial permit will have priority for any further permits that may be available.
  9. Once you have reached maximum catch limit identified on your permit, all Greenland halibut (dead or alive) that is harvested, shall be immediately returned to the water from which it was taken, and where it is alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm.
  10. Nominal quota over-runs from the previous year’s fishery will be deducted from the current year’s quota after the reconciliation process has been applied to individual harvesters.  The quota reconciliation process does not preclude the Department from further enforcement action should it be deemed necessary.

5. Season

  1. The fishery opens on June 1st  and will remain open for 2 months for the initial permit.
  2. The Department may close the fishery prior to the 2 month permit period should it be determined that 2J based harvesters have not had sufficient time to take part in the fishery due to the generally later starts of the Snow Crab fisheries.

6. Fishing gear

  1. As per the Groundfish General Licence Conditions and the species specific licence conditions.

7. Licensing policy

  1. The commercial fishery is guided by licensing policy which sets out requirements and eligibility criteria established by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada with respect to the licensing of commercial fishing and communal commercial fishing in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region.  The policies provide fish harvesters, Aboriginal Organizations, and the Canadian public with a clear and consistent statement regarding the Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s (DFO) policy respecting commercial fishing enterprises, the registration of vessels, and the issuance of recreational and commercial fishing licences in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region.  The complete policy document can be found at the following: Fisheries Licensing Policy Newfoundland and Labrador Region
  2. In Consultation with industry, a licensing policy has been created for the inshore (<90ft) Greenland halibut fishery in NAFO Divisions 2+3KLMNO in regards to vessel leasing. 
    1. The licence holder leasing the vessel must have fished and had verified landings on their disabled vessel within the 30 days prior to the lease request. In instances where the request is made at the beginning of the fishing season, the licence holder leasing the vessel must have fished and had verified landings on their disabled vessel the previous fishing season. In the case of Greenland halibut, the licence holder leasing the vessel must have fished and had verified, directed Greenland halibut landings on their disabled vessel in the month/season previous.

8. Small fish and by-catch protocol

  1. The minimum size for Greenland halibut is 45 cm (18 in). Areas will be closely monitored and may be closed to fishing when the number of Greenland halibut <45cm in length caught exceeds 15% of the total number of Greenland halibut caught, or when by-catch levels become a conservation concern.
  2. When a fishery is closed due to small fish, or when by-catch problems occur, closures will be in effect for a minimum of 10 days.
  3. When a fishery is closed, it will not reopen until it can be effectively monitored and controlled. Reopening will only be considered following a successful, observed, industry-funded test fishery.
  4. If a fishery in a particular area is closed twice during the year, it may remain closed for the remainder of the year.

9. Monitoring and reporting

  1. As per the Groundfish General Licence Conditions.
  2. The use of Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) is required while fishing for Greenland halibut in NAFO Divisions 2GHJ3K. This requirement applies to all vessels.

10. By-catch and incidental catch

  1. As per the Groundfish General Licence Conditions.

11. Species at Risk Act (SARA)

  1. The following species are considered at risk and listed under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) as either Threatened or Endangered:
  2. Northern wolffish (Anarchichas denticulatus ) – listed as Threatened
  3. Spotted wolffish  (Anarchichas minor) – listed as Threatened
  4. Leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) – listed as Endangered
  5. White shark (Carcharodon carcharias), Atlantic population  – listed as Endangered

In accordance with subsection 83(4) of SARA and the recovery strategy for northern wolffish, spotted wolffish, and leatherback turtle, and having met the conditions of sections 73(2) to (6.1) of SARA for white shark, the licence holder or vessel operator is permitted to carry out commercial fishing activities authorized under the Fisheries Act that may incidentally kill, harm, harass, or capture these species.

During these fishing activities, incidental catches of a these species must be returned to the place from which it was taken, and where it is alive, in a manner that causes the least harm.  The licence holder or vessel operator is also required to complete the SARA section in the fishing logbook to provide information regarding any interactions with these species. Please refer to the Groundfish General Licence Conditions for further information on these requirements.

12. Marine mammals

  1. As per the Groundfish General Licence Conditions, refer to Schedule 38 - Marine Mammal Interactions and Management Measures.   

13. Marine conservation targets: Closed areas

  1. As per the Groundfish General Licence Conditions, refer to Schedule 36 – Closed Areas.

14. Indigenous participation

  1. Allocations will be negotiated with applicable Indigenous communities for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes. Communal licences for FSC and commercial access will be issued under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licence Regulations.

15. Safety at sea

  1. Vessel owners and masters have a duty to ensure the safety of their crew and vessel.  Adherence to safety regulations and good practices by owners, masters and crew of fishing vessels will help save lives, protect the vessel from damage and protect the environment.  All fishing vessels must be in a seaworthy condition and maintained as required by Transport Canada and other applicable agencies.  Vessels subject to inspection should have a certificate of inspection valid for the area of intended operation.
  2. In the federal government, responsibility for regulating shipping, navigation, and vessel safety lies with Transport Canada, while emergency response is the responsibility of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). DFO has responsibility for the management of fisheries resources, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) has jurisdiction over health and safety issues in the workplace.
  3. Before leaving on a voyage the owner, master or operator must ensure that the fishing vessel is capable of safely making the passage.  Critical factors for a safe voyage include:
    1. seaworthiness of the vessel
    2. vessel stability
    3. having the required safety equipment in good working order
    4. crew training
    5. knowledge of current and forecasted weather conditions
  4. Useful publications include Transport Canada’s Small Fishing Vessel Safety Manual which can be obtained from TC or printed from their website.
  5. Fishing vessel safety includes three priority areas:
    1. vessel stability
    2. emergency drills
    3. cold water immersion

Fishing vessel stability

  1. Vessel stability is paramount for safety.  Care must be given to the stowage and securing of all cargo, skiffs, equipment, fuel containers and supplies, and also to correct ballasting. Fish harvesters must be familiar with their vessel’s centre of gravity, the effect of free surface liquids on stability, loose water or fish on deck, loading and unloading operations and the vessel’s freeboard.  Fish harvesters should know the limitations of their vessels. If unsure, the vessel operator should contact a qualified naval architect, marine surveyor or the local Transport Canada Marine Safety office.
  2. Fishing vessel owners are required to develop detailed instructions addressing the limits of stability for each of their vessels.  The instructions must be based on a formal assessment of the vessel by a qualified naval architect and include detailed safe operation documentation. Instructions should be kept on board the vessel at all times.
  3. Fishing vessel owners should also keep on-board detailed documentation on engine room procedures, maintenance schedules to ensure watertight integrity, and instructions for regular practice of emergency drills.

Emergency drill requirements

  1. The vessel master must establish procedures and assign responsibilities to each crew member for emergencies such as crew member overboard, fire, flooding, abandoning ship and calling for help.
  2. Since July 30, 2003 all crew members with more than six months at sea are required to have taken minimum Marine Emergency Duties (MED) training or be registered for such training.
  3. MED provides a basic understanding of:
    1. hazards associated with the marine environment
    2. prevention of shipboard incidents (including fires)
    3. raising and reacting to alarms
    4. fire and abandonment situations
    5. skills necessary for survival and rescue

Cold water immersion

  1. Drowning is the number one cause of death in the fishing industry. Cold water is defined as water below 25 degrees Celsius, but the greatest effects occur below 15 degrees Celsius.  Newfoundland and Labrador waters are usually below 15 degrees.
  2. The effects of cold water on the body occur in four stages:
    1. cold shock
    2. swimming failure
    3. hypothermia
  3. post-rescue collapse
    Vessel masters should know what to do to prevent themselves or their crew from falling into the water and what to do if that occurs. 

Other issues


  1. Vessel owners and masters are reminded of the importance of paying close attention to current weather trends and forecasts during the voyage.  Marine weather information and forecasts can be obtained from Environment Canada’s website.

Emergency radio procedures

  1. Vessel owners and masters should ensure that all crew are able to activate the Search and Rescue (SAR) system by contacting the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) early rather than later. It is strongly recommended that all fish harvesters carry a registered 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). These beacons should be registered with Coast Guard’s National Search and Rescue secretariat. When activated, an EPIRB transmits a distress call that is picked up or relayed by satellites and transmitted via land earth stations to the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC), which will task and co-ordinate rescue resources.
  2. All crew members should know how to make a distress call and should obtain their restricted operator certificate from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada). Whenever possible, masters should contact the nearest Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) station prior to a distress situation developing.  Correct radio procedures are important for communications in an emergency.  Incorrect or misunderstood communications may hinder a rescue response.
  3. Since August 1, 2003 all commercial vessels greater than 20 metres in length are required to carry a Class D VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) radio. A registered DSC VHF radio has the capability to alert other DSC equipped vessels in the immediate area and advise Coast Guard MCTS that the vessel is in distress.  Masters should be aware that they should register their DSC radios with ISED Canada to obtain a Marine Mobile Services Identity (MMSI) number; otherwise the automatic distress calling feature of the radio may not work.
  4. A DSC radio that is connected to a GPS unit will also automatically include the vessel’s current position in the distress message.  More detailed information on MCTS and DSC can be obtained by contacting a local MCTS center or from the Canadian Coast Guard.

Collison regulations

  1. Fish harvesters should have a thorough knowledge of the Collision Regulations and the responsibilities between vessels where risk of collision exists.  Navigation lights must be kept in good working order and must be displayed from sunset to sunrise and during all times of restricted visibility. To help reduce the potential for collision or close quarters situations that may also result in the loss of fishing gear, fish harvesters are encouraged to monitor the appropriate local Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) VHF channel, when travelling or fishing near shipping lanes or other areas frequented by large commercial vessels.
  2. Vessels required to participate in VTS include:
    • every ship 20 metres or more in length
    • every ship engaged in towing or pushing any vessel or object, other than fishing gear
    • where the combined length of the ship and any vessel or object towed or pushed by the ship is 45 metres or more in length, or
    • where the length of the vessel or object being towed or pushed by the ship is 20 metres or more in length

Exceptions include:

  • a ship towing or pushing inside a log booming ground
  • a pleasure yacht less than 30 metres in length, and
  • a fishing vessel that is less than 24 metres in length and not more than 150 tonnes gross
  1. Additional information can be found on the Collision Regulations page. 

Sail plan

  1. An important trip consideration is the use of a sail plan which includes the particulars of the vessel, crew and voyage. The sail plan should be left with a responsible person on shore or filed with the local MCTS centre. After leaving port the fish harvester should contact the holder of the sail plan daily or as per another schedule. The sail plan should ensure notification to JRCC when communication is not maintained which might indicate your vessel is in distress.  Be sure to cancel the sail plan upon completion of the voyage.
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