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Capelin Newfoundland & Labrador Region 2+3
(Capelin Fishing Areas 1-11) - Effective 2017


(Mallotus villosus)

This is the multi-year Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region’s capelin fishery in NAFO Divisions 2J3KLPs (2+3) developed in consultation with capelin fish harvesters and other stakeholders. This is an evergreen IFMP.

The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region capelin fishery in NAFO Division 2+3, as well as the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate basic information on the fishery and its management to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff, legislated co-management boards and committees, and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

This IFMP is not a legally binding instrument which can form the basis of a legal challenge. The IFMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister's discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act. The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

Where DFO is responsible for implementing obligations under land claims agreements, the IFMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an IFMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claim agreements, the provisions of land claims agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

As with any policy, the Minister retains the discretion to make exceptions to, or to change, this policy at any time. It is, however, DFO’s expectation and intention to follow the management process set out in this IFMP, with a view to contributing to increased certainty and direction for the capelin fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This IFMP is in effect until it is replaced. While the elements of this plan will remain in effect indefinitely, quotas are subject to annual review and may be adjusted based on updated Science information. This could include changes to the total allowable catch (TAC), as well as adjustments to annexes and website listings.

Jacqueline Perry
A/Regional Director General
Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Table of Contents

1.0 Overview of the fishery
2.0 Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge
3.0 Economic, social and cultural importance of the fishery
4.0 Management issues
5.0 Objectives
6.0 Access and allocation
7.0 Management measures
8.0 Shared stewardship arrangements
9.0 Compliance plan
10.0 Performance review
11.0 Glossary of Terms

1.0 Overview of the fishery

1.1 History of the fishery

Historically, a domestic fishery with an estimated annual harvest of about 25,000 tonnes existed for spawning capelin on Newfoundland and Labrador beaches to provide food, bait and fertilizer for local residents.

In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s a very small number of fish harvesters prosecuted the capelin fishery for commercial purposes; however with the increased demand for roe in the Japanese capelin market from the mid to the late 1980’s, so too did the number of commercial fish harvesters participating in the fishery.

The inshore fishery for roe capelin began during the late 1970s with Japan being the primary market destination for roe-bearing females. In recent years, new markets are being developed for non-roe-bearing females and males. Meanwhile, difficulties with the capelin fisheries in Norway and Iceland have resulted in increased demand for capelin products from Newfoundland and Labrador resulting in improved market opportunities and prices.

1.2 Type of fishery

For ease of reference, the 2J3KLPs capelin fishery will hence be referred to by the abbreviated reference of 2+3 capelin fishery.

Of the four capelin stocks around Newfoundland and Labrador, only 2J3KL and 3Ps capelin in eastern and southern Newfoundland and Labrador are covered by this IFMP. Although they are currently considered two separate stocks, both elements are managed under the same management plan.

The capelin stock in 3NO is managed by the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) and does not include a Canadian fishery. The 4RST capelin stock on the west coast of Newfoundland and Southern Labrador, and the Gulf of St. Lawrence is covered under a separate IFMP.

Capelin is fished using both fixed and mobile gear. The fixed gear capelin fishery uses traps and modified bar seines known as tuck seines. The mobile gear fleet uses purse seines.

The capelin 2+3 fishery is managed on the basis of a single total allowable catch (TAC). The TAC is managed under the IFMP with a mix of competitive and individual quota (IQ) fisheries, depending on the capelin Fishing Area (CFA) and gear type involved. IQ fisheries are implemented in portions of:

1.3 Participants

There are approximately 71 active mobile gear participants and 207 active fixed gear participants in the capelin 2+3 fishery for a total of 278 active participants.

In 2017, capelin licenses were issued to 1,259 fixed gear fish harvesters and 195 mobile gear fish harvesters. There is limited entry in the capelin 2+3 fishery; no new licenses are available.

By way of comparison, there were 947 licenced capelin fish harvesters in 2+3 in 1984. This increased to a high of 2,693 in 1989 with most of the expansion in the fixed gear sector. Mobile gear licences increased from 190 licenses in 1984 to a peak of 233 licenses in 1988.

Included in the number of commercial licences are communal commercial capelin licences issued to Indigenous organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

1.4 Location of the fishery

The bulk of today's inshore capelin fishery occurs along the east and northeast coast of Newfoundland and Labrador where the major stock component is located (NAFO Division 3KL).

Figure 1: Map of Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Management NAFO Divisions
Figure 2: Map of capelin fishing areas around Newfoundland and Labrador

1.5 Fishery characteristics

The capelin 2+3 fishery is managed on the basis of an annual management plan. The current management cycle runs from January 1 to December 31. Science advice on the stock and subsequent advisory meetings with stakeholders and Indigenous groups occur every year. Additional meetings with stakeholders may be added to this schedule for any reason deemed appropriate by DFO.

Capelin is fished using both fixed and mobile gear. The fixed gear fishery in all areas uses traps and modified bar seines known as “tuck seines”. The fixed gear fishery occurs in specific areas or bays. The mobile gear fleet is made up of <65’ purse seine vessels. The mobile gear fishery occurs where the resource is available in Capelin Fishing Areas (CFAs) 1-11.

1.6 Governance

The capelin 2+3 fishery is governed by the Fisheries Act, regulations made pursuant to the Act; and Departmental policies. The key regulations and policies that apply include, but are not limited to:

Capelin management is conducted through an advisory process. The advisory committee solicits the opinions of stakeholders on past management practices and focuses on management measure recommendations for the upcoming season’s fishery. This includes recommendations on the TAC.

The last 2+3 capelin advisory meeting was held in Gander, NL on March 17, 2017. A list of advisory committee members is provided in [Appendix 3].

1.7 Approval process

The Integrated Fisheries Management Plan is approved by the Regional Director General of Newfoundland and Labrador Region. Opening and closing dates for specific areas and gear types are determined by DFO area staff in consultation with industry. Other issues that arise will be addressed through similar consultative processes. Any changes to licence conditions are tabled by DFO officials at the annual advisory meeting.

Unless there are conservation issues, the intent is to manage the fishery based on the measures outlined in this IFMP. Stakeholders seeking new management measures are required to table their requests at the next scheduled DFO-Industry advisory meeting.

2.0 Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

2.1 Biological characteristics

Juvenile capelin of the NAFO subarea 2 + Division 3KL stock can be found both in major bays and in offshore waters, although the northern Grand Bank and Northeast Newfoundland Shelf are thought to be major nursery areas. When mature, capelin migrate inshore to spawn on beaches and demersally. The amount of off-beach spawning has been assumed to be variable from year-to-year. Recent genetic studies support findings of previous tagging studies suggesting that beach spawning capelin in the SA2+Div 3KL area are from a single population and so are managed as one unit. However, it is not clear whether off-beach spawners in this area constitute the same stock as those spawning on beaches.

Historically, spawning capelin were composed of primarily three and four-year old fish. Since the early 1990s, spawning populations have consisted predominantly of two and three-year old fish. Few age‑classes in the mature stock and highly variable recruitment offer the potential for large year to year fluctuations in mature biomass, and less resilience than longer lived species. 

Research has indicated that the abundance of a year class is determined early in the life history and larval survival depends largely on environmental conditions experienced by emerging and early feeding larvae. As adults, other environmental conditions, namely the timing of sea ice retreat in the spring, may also act to modulate cohort strength of pre-spawning capelin. The impact of ice on the timing of the spring bloom and prey availability to maturing capelin may also impact spawning times. Late spawning impacts both the availability of capelin to the fishery and may also impact the likelihood of a strong cohort being produced.

During the 1970s and 1980s, beach spawning typically started in late June, however, since 1991 beach spawning has been delayed up to four weeks with spawning now taking place in July and August. Soon after the eggs have hatched, the larvae exit the gravel and most are carried away from the beaches and eventually out of the bays by surface currents.

Adult fish range in size from about 12 to 23 cm with males being larger than females. The average size of spawning capelin continued to be smaller than observed during the 1980s, due to the increased proportion of fish spawning at age two.

The offshore distribution of capelin shifted southerly in the early 1990s and has remained southward in most of the subsequent years. Capelin vertical distributions have also changed. Both horizontal and vertical shifts in distribution are coincident with a decreased proportion of fish initially maturing at age three and lower abundances of capelin in offshore acoustic surveys.

Declines in mean age-at-maturity and body condition, in addition to shifts in offshore distribution are likely environmentally-driven and may be related to the quality and availability of suitable zooplankton. While these changes were initially linked with colder water temperatures, subsequent data has shown the relationship between these key capelin attributes and oceanographic conditions to be more complex.

Following a dramatic decline in capelin abundance and numerous changes in capelin behaviour and biological characteristics in 1991, a small improvement in abundance was observed from 2006-2009, followed by a very poor year in 2010 and return to 2009 levels in 2011-2012. In 2013 and 2014, offshore abundance indices for capelin observed during spring acoustic surveys were the highest since 1990, at approximately 25% of historic levels.

Elevated offshore abundances in 2013 and 2014 were consistent with the strength of the main contributing cohorts (2011 and 2012) as observed as larvae in Bellevue surface tows series, as well as in observations from industry.

Figure 3: Index of offshore capelin abundance (line) with 95% confidence intervals (broken lines)
for the NAFO Division 3L index area.

Source: DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2015/036.
Figure 4. Surface densities of capelin larvae off Bellvue Beach, Trinity Bay.
Source: DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2015/036

The proportion of age two capelin found to be maturing during spring surveys increased from 5% in the 1980s to a peak of 80% in 2005. Since 2011 the proportion of age two maturing fish has continually declined to a low of 19% in 2014. Delayed maturation is associated with slower growth but improved survival of age two capelin. This change in the age composition of spawners resulted in larger, heavier fish being available to and harvested by the fishery.

From the early 1990s through 2010, spawning times have been delayed by as much as four weeks. Peak spawning at index sites at Bryant’s Cove and Bellevue Beach from 2011-2014 has occurred in early to mid-July (only two weeks later than in the 1980s).

The collapse of capelin in the early 1990s was associated with a southerly shift in fall distribution and a severe decrease in vertical migration. Spring and fall distribution patterns of capelin in 2013 and 2014 were more similar to those typical of the late 1980s, with a more coastal distribution in the spring and a more northward distribution in the fall. Capelin vertical distribution patterns remained attenuated.

Stomach fullness indices from the spring acoustic surveys have been monitored since 1999. Capelin feeding in 2014 was among the poorest in the time series. Good feeding success in 2011 was associated with increased amounts of copepods and Oikopleura in the spring diet and higher proportions of euphausiids in the fall. Survival of larvae produced in 2011 and 2012 has been two to three times better than that of any cohort since 2003.

This two-year period corresponds to one of increased zooplankton production and improved condition and feeding in adult capelin. However, feeding and size-at-age information from the capelin acoustic survey in 2014 suggests that feeding conditions this year may not have been as favourable as from 2011-2013. Zooplankton monitoring indicated that the biomass of macrozooplankton larger than 1mm (the prey size preferred by capelin) returned to near-normal in 2014 after several years of above average levels. Peaks in this zooplankton size fraction occurred in 2007 and 2011 coinciding with peaks in standardized recruitment indices of capelin.

Preliminary ecosystem model estimates of consumption of capelin by fish have been increasing since 2010, which is consistent with the increasing abundance observed in the acoustic surveys. Consumption by seals, whales and seabirds have not been updated.

The abundance of the 2012 and 2013 cohorts in the acoustics survey were each the highest since 1996. These cohorts are expected to comprise the majority of spawners in 2015 and 2016. However, both larval indices of abundance for the 2014 year class were below average. Other cohorts of similar magnitude have not contributed significantly to the maturing spawner biomass in subsequent years. Given the poorer environmental and feeding conditions seen in 2014, coupled with the below average strength of the 2014 larval cohort, and the importance of capelin as a forage species, it was suggested that a cautious approach to increasing the TAC be adopted.

2.2 Stock assessment process

Details of the most recent assessment of NAFO sub-area 2 + Division 3KL capelin in February 2015 can be found in the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) Science Advisory Report 2015/036.

2.3 Precautionary approach

In general, the precautionary approach in fisheries management is about being cautious when scientific knowledge is uncertain, and not using the absence of adequate scientific information as a reason to postpone or fail to take action to avoid serious harm to fish stocks or their ecosystem. This approach is widely accepted as an essential part of a sustainable fisheries management. Applying the precautionary approach to fisheries management decisions entails establishing a harvest strategy that:

Although there is currently no Blim for 2+3 capelin, all stock assessments will be written in a manner consistent with DFO’s precautionary approach.

2.4 Aboriginal traditional knowledge

Aboriginal traditional knowledge and traditional ecological knowledge in the form of observations and comments provided by Aboriginal groups are considered in management decisions when provided.

3.0 Economic, social, and cultural importance of the fishery

3.1 Socio-economic profile

The TAC for capelin in NAFO Division 2+3 was 30,496 tonnes from 2008 to 2010 and from 2015 to 2017 where it now remains. From 2011 to 2014, it was reduced to 24,396 tonnes.

Capelin landings declined from approximately 28,908 tonnes in 2008 to 15,472 in 2010. This was followed by a steady increase in the subsequent six years, reaching about 27,394 tonnes in 2016, before a decline to 19,917 tonnes in 2017.

In 2016, the capelin 2+3 fishery was open from mid-July to mid-August. The fixed gear sector accounted for approximately 66% of total capelin landings that year, while the mobile gear sector accounted for approximately 33%. A similar pattern appeared in 2017 with fixed gear accounting for about 63% and mobile gear for 37% of landings.

In 2016, landings occurred in 42 ports around Newfoundland and Labrador, of which nine accounted for over half of total capelin landings in 2+3. The top capelin landing ports (in terms of volume) were Port De Grave, Hickman’s Harbor, Leading Tickles, Burnside, Harbour Grace, Dover, Triton, Englee, and Fleur De Lys. This trend continued in 2017 with Port De Grave, Hickman’s Harbor and Leading Tickles as the top three ports for capelin landings.

Figure 5: Landing Data from 2008 to 2017.
Source: Fisheries Management – Total Allowable Catch; Policy and Economics –
Landings, DFO NL Region. (Data is preliminary and subject to revision).

3.2 Landings and landed value

The landed value of 2+3 capelin increased steadily from a low of approximately $1.8 million in 2008 to a peak of just over $10 million in 2016. Landed value subsequently declined to about $6 million in 2017. 

The average price per pound has fluctuated annually. In 2008, the average price was relatively high at $0.12 per pound, followed by a significant decline in 2010, and an increase over the next six years to a high of $0.17 per pound in 2016. The price subsequently declined to $0.14 per pound in 2017. [See figure 6]

capelin fisheries in other countries can be a factor in influencing the level of demand and price for Newfoundland and Labrador capelin. Of note, the capelin fishery in the Barents Sea will re-open in 2018 after two years without fishing. The new quota will be shared between Norway and Russia and will be set at 205,000 tonnes. Also of note, Iceland raised its capelin quota by 87% to 299,000 tonnes in 2017, but this is expected to be reduced to 208,000 tonnes for 2018.

The capelin fishery in these countries typically peaks during the months of January to March, much earlier than the capelin fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Figure 6. Landed value 2008 to 2017.
Source: Policy and Economics Branch, DFO NL Region. (Data is preliminary and subject to revision).

3.3 Dependence on capelin

The following section provides an overview of capelin dependence and is based solely on inshore and nearshore enterprises that harvested 2+3 capelin in 2016. “Dependence” in this instance is considered to be the percentage contribution of capelin to the total landed value of all species harvested by these enterprises.

In 2016, there were 218 active <35’ enterprises with capelin landings. capelin accounted for 22% of the total landed value of all species harvested by these enterprises in 2+3. The vast majority of enterprises in this fleet sector were primarily dependent on snow crab, which accounted for about 55% of the total landed value. The remaining landed value was comprised of cod (14%), lobster (2%), sea urchins (1.5%) and other species (6%).

In 2016, there were 210 active 35’ to 64’11’’ enterprises with capelin landings in 2+3. capelin accounted for only about 12% of total landed value for these enterprises. Snow crab was the most significant species, accounting for approximately 65% of the total landed value. The remaining landed value was comprised of shrimp (8%), turbot (5%), cod (3%), herring (2%), mackerel (2%) and other species (3%).

In 2016, the provincial Department of Fisheries and Land Resources reported that approximately 28,704 tonnes of capelin was processed by 26 plants. This includes capelin fisheries based in NAFO Divisions 2+3 and 4R3Pn.

3.4 Exports

Canadian exports of capelin consist exclusively of mature egg-bearing females in order to supply the Asian market with roe. The roe product is exported whole and frozen. Japanese consumers are very fond of capelin eggs (and other pelagic fish eggs); these eggs are commonly used in sushi and referred to as "masago" (a product related to caviar).

According to Statistics Canada, in 2016, the total Newfoundland and Labrador capelin exports were approximately 18,622 tonnes, with a total export value of about $36.7 million. 

In 2016, China was the most significant export destination for NL capelin products with 38% of NL capelin export value. Other top export destinations included: United States (18%), Taiwan (13%), Vietnam (9%), Japan (7%) and Thailand (5%). Less significant destinations included South Korea, Georgia, Hong Kong and Ukraine. [see figure 7]

Figure 7: Newfoundland and Labrador capelin Exports by Country of Destination Based on
Export Value (2016). Source: Statistics Canada

4.0 Management issues

4.1 Interaction with Atlantic salmon

The issue of the interaction of Atlantic salmon and the capelin fishery has been discussed with industry at capelin advisory meetings, and measures have been taken in the commercial capelin fishery to mitigate the by-catch of Atlantic salmon and to protect their migration.

4.2 By-catch concerns

One notable concern is by-catch of salmon and cod taken by pelagic traps. This issue has been discussed with industry over the past several years and measures were taken to minimize the potential for salmon by-catch in the commercial fishery.

4.3 Oceans initiatives in marine conservation

The Government of Canada has achieved its target of protecting 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by the end of 2017 and remains committed to protecting 10% by 2020. The 2020 target is both a domestic target (Canada’s Biodiversity Target 1) and an international target as reflected in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11 and the United Nations General Assembly’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under Goal 14.The 2017 and 2020 targets are collectively referred to as Canada’s Marine Conservation Targets. More information on the background and drivers for Canada’s Marine Conservation Targets.

To meet these targets, Canada is establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and “other effective area-based conservation measures” (Other Measures), in consultation with industry, non-governmental organizations, and other interested parties. An overview of these tools, including a description of the role of fisheries management measures that qualify as Other Measures is available in the Marine Protected Areas, Areas of Interest and Other Measures section. Some existing Fisheries Act closures have met the criteria for “other measures”.

In recognition of the need to sustainably manage Canada’s fisheries and oceans using an ecosystem approach with a focus on conserving biodiversity, DFO is leading initiatives in marine conservation planning in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region. A network of Marine Protected Areas (Oceans Act MPAs and other protected areas) and Other Measures (e.g. Fisheries Act closures) is currently being developed in the NL Shelves and the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence (EGSL) Bioregions.

The NL Shelves Bioregion covers approximately one million km2, extending from Cape Chidley at the northern tip of Labrador to the southern Grand Banks and the south coast of Newfoundland. The EGSL Bioregion covers 231,193 km2, bounded to the east by a jagged line that stretches from approximately Bay St. Lawrence, Nova Scotia to Port-aux-Basques, NL, and to the north by a line drawn south of Henley Harbour, NL to approximately Raleigh, NL and along Quebec’s southern coast to the west.

The primary goal of a MPA Network is to provide long-term protection of marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and special natural features. Capelin are included in the Conservation Priorities for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence MPA Network.

The proposed Laurentian Channel MPA is located off the south west coast of NL within the NL Shelves Bioregion. It overlaps a southern portion of 3Pn and covers an area of 11,619 km2. The proposed MPA regulations aim to foster biodiversity conservation in the Laurentian Channel by reducing risk and harm posed by human activities.

Figure 8: Map of NL and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion

4.4 Habitat considerations

DFO seeks to conserve and protect fish habitat that supports Canada’s fisheries resource through application of the fisheries protection provisions of the Fisheries Act. A key provision of the Fisheries Act is subsection 35 which prohibits the carrying on of a work, undertaking or activity that results in serious harm to fish that are part of or support a commercial, recreational or Aboriginal fishery without an authorization from the Minister.

The Fisheries Protection Program provides advice to proponents to enable them to proactively avoid and mitigate the effects of projects on fish and fish habitat, undertakes the review of proposed works, undertakings and activities that may affect fish and fish habitat, and ensures compliance with the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act by issuing authorizations and permits, when appropriate, with conditions for offsetting, monitoring, and reporting.

4.5 Gear impacts

Modified bar seines, or tuck seines as they are commonly referred to, are bar seines fitted with rings that allow the bottom and sides of the seine to be brought or hauled together. The use of these seines have been authorized in the fixed gear herring, capelin and mackerel fisheries in 2+3 and 4R in recent years, following consultations with stakeholders in advisory committee meetings.

Capelin gear used in DFO Newfoundland and Labrador Region are considered to have an insignificant to low impact to the ecosystem. Although some seine nets do touch the bottom from time to time, the impact on benthic species and habitats is minimal.

4.6 Aquatic invasive species (AIS)

The south coast of Newfoundland (NAFO 3Ps) has the highest concentration of invasive European green crab, with infestations in the northern and western areas of Placentia Bay and more recently in Fortune Bay. Currently (in 2017) no green crab has been reported from coastal areas of 3L, 3K or 2J. Green crab have also been found in large numbers in coastal areas of 4R, particularly near Bonne Bay and in Bay St. George, as far north as Port Saunders.

In NAFO divisions 3P, 3L and 4R, some invasive tunicates have been detected in coastal areas, with invasive populations of concern located in Burin, Little Bay and Marystown (vase tunicate) and Belleoram harbours (violet tunicate).

Best practices to prevent the introduction and spread of AIS include:

More information and maps of aquatic invasive species in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found in the Identify an Aquatic Invasive Species section.

4.7 Catch monitoring

Return of logbooks and catch reporting are mandatory in this fishery. These are important tools for the overall management of the fishery, including quota monitoring and the science assessment process. Failure to return logbooks may impact in-season quota monitoring.

4.8 Barging

On occasion fish harvesters were known to undertake the practice of “barging” in pelagic fisheries. The practice of barging involves one vessel actively fishing and supplying one or more inactive participants with catch. The inactive participants were not geared up to actively participate in fishing operations. Fish harvesters are encouraged to review their license conditions for details as this practice is not permitted, i.e. all participants must be geared-up.

4.9 International issues

The United States (US) is implementing the import provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act following court direction. The import rule requires countries exporting fish and fish products to the US to demonstrate that they have regulatory measures in place that are comparable in effectiveness to those of the US for reducing marine mammal incidental mortality and serious injury in commercial fisheries. Countries who fail to obtain such comparability measures to the US for their export fisheries by January 1, 2022, will be prohibited from entering the US market.

Canada is working towards demonstrating appropriate measures are in place in all Canadian fisheries.

5.0 Objectives

Long-term objectives

DFO strives to manage the capelin 2+3 fishery based on the principles of stock conservation and sustainable harvest, as well as ecosystem health and sustainability. Using the following short and long-term objectives as guideposts, various management measures have been implemented, or are being developed that will maximize the benefit of this resource.

5.1 Stock conservation and sustainable harvest

Given the importance of capelin in the food web and for the ecosystem, conservation and the long-term sustainability of capelin is one of DFO’s most important objectives. It is vital that the stock grow and provide benefits for all stakeholders in the short and long-term. As such, DFO will work with all stakeholders to ensure this objective is achieved and that the capelin stock allows for an economically viable and self-reliant fishery.

Harvesting levels will be set that allow the stock to grow and achieve a higher TAC than current levels. Consideration will be given to the level of recruitment in this stock. Furthermore, the capelin fishery will be managed such that catches are not concentrated in a manner that would result in high exploitation rates on any of the stock components.

DFO will also work with industry to ensure adequate monitoring of all capelin catches, while minimizing by-catch of other species and small fish.

5.2 Stewardship

The shared stewardship management objective recognizes that industry participants and all stakeholders must become involved in fisheries management policy development and the decision-making process. It also recognizes that achievement of the conservation objective requires that governments, resource users and other stakeholders share responsibility for the implementation of fisheries management decisions and for their outcomes.

Short-term objectives

5.3 Stock conservation

Harvest levels will be set at cautious levels in keeping with the Precautionary Approach.

5.4 Ecosystem health and sustainability

Ecosystem health is essential for effective fisheries management. The sustainability of capelin as a species within the food web (as both a prey species and consumer) will strengthen the long-term health of the ecosystem.

6.0 Access and allocation

At this time, access to this fishery is considered to be limited (i.e. no new licenses are available) and allocations are considered to be stable. However, the Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements as outlined in this IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

6.1 Sharing arrangements

Commercial quotas are allocated by area, gear type and fleet shares which have been established through the advisory committee process. Quotas within each gear sector and area are fished competitively with the exception of a few defined IQ areas. The traditional fleet shares have recently stabilized.

6.2 Quotas and allocations

DFO is committed to economically prosperous fisheries and works with industry to ensure that fisheries are managed in such a way to achieve this goal. As such, DFO will consider, at the request of industry, the overrun of quotas in a particular capelin Fishing Area (CFA), provided that there is sufficient uncaught quota in another CFA to ensure that the TAC will not be exceeded. In evaluating such a request, DFO will take the following points into consideration when forming a decision:

These decisions are made through direct consultation with industry as the fishery is occurring and require daily assessments of the condition and migration of capelin. As with all Resource Management decisions, conservation of the resource forms the foundation by which any decision to exceed the quota in a management area is made.

With the exception of Conception Bay, flexibility can be applied to the management of the mobile gear quotas to allow the removal of up to 2,300 tonnes by the purse seine fleet in any of the purse seine fleet areas subject to the constraints of the fleets overall quota.  Unless participation levels exceed projected levels, this flexibility, combined with the seasonal and daily limits, should allow fish harvesters to catch their share of capelin without having to move beyond an adjacent bay.

The Quota Reconciliation Policy will continue to apply should an overrun occur in the competitive fishery TAC. The same process is also in place for the IQ fisheries in White Bay and Notre Dame Bay. Overruns in the competitive and IQ fishery will be reconciled each year on a kilogram-for-kilogram basis. A review process will be established to verify catches before reconciliation is applied. This review process will occur within 30-60 days after the end of the season, after all data sources are received and have been analyzed.

Capelin quota reports for 2015-2017 are available in Appendix 5].

6.3 Communal commercial fisheries

Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports the participation of adjacent Indigenous organizations in commercial fisheries. The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy Program (AFS) is designed to encourage Indigenous involvement in commercial fisheries and related economic opportunities. The Allocation Transfer Program (ATP) component of the AFS has been the primary instrument used to voluntarily retire licences from commercial harvesters and subsequently reissue them to Indigenous organizations on a communal basis.

A subsequent program, Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (AAROM) Program, was designed for Indigenous groups to collaboratively develop capacity and expertise to facilitate their participation in aquatic resource and oceans management.

Fishing licences issued to Indigenous organizations are done so under the authority of the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licenses Regulations.

The Innu Nation, Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band, Miawpukek First Nation and the AAROM body Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) are issued capelin licenses for 2+3 and participate in this fishery.

7.0 Management measures

7.1 Capelin total allowable catch

The total allowable catch for 2017 was set at 30,496 tonnes. The TAC was established based on the "performance report approach" used to describe current stock status and future prospects, and the outcome of consultations with industry.

7.2 Fishing seasons/areas

Throughout the 1980’s, the inshore fishery on the east coast usually started by mid-June in the south and finished about mid-July in the north. Throughout the 1990’s, the fishery was delayed by up to four weeks because of the late arrival of capelin, but in recent years the timing of the fishery has edged back toward the historic period, although still two weeks later than in comparison to the 1980’s. 

Seasons are an important consideration in the capelin fishery since there is a relatively small window of opportunity to harvest capelin, especially for the roe-bearing market. There are a number of factors DFO takes into consideration when establishing the season for the capelin fishery, including:

Season dates are regularly discussed in detail as part of the industry consultation process and recommendations are noted during the advisory meeting on all management measures. In the case of capelin, season dates are established according to bay or fishing area, and input from local fish harvesters is a key consideration.

An industry monitoring committee process is used for the fixed and mobile gear fleets. The Committee organizes daily calls during the season and invites participation from the FFAW, processors, fleet representatives for fixed and mobile gear, DFO Resource Management, Area Statistics officers and Conservation and Protection. The Industry Monitoring Committee was established in each quota area to conduct sampling and to recommend opening dates based on sampling results, i.e. percentage of females, size and roe content, the percentage of red feed and distribution of capelin in a quota area. Fish harvesters may request capelin test permits from DFO during these calls which provide them with an opportunity to sample capelin.

The season for each gear sector and area will remain open provided there are commercial quantities available and there is quota remaining to be harvested. Quotas will be monitored and closures will be based on reported landings and projected catch. The fishery may close if there is no fishing activity.

Due to the rate at which harvesting can occur, closure times may be specified in conjunction with the announcement of fishery openings in order to limit the potential for significant quota over-runs. If there is evidence of dumping or wastage at sea, catches may be adjusted upward to reflect the estimated amounts and the fishery may be closed.

Fishery openings and closings will be communicated through DFO’s Notice to Fish Harvesters system. Fishery openings may be delayed due to weather conditions. These decisions will be made in consultation with industry and openings will occur at 0600 hours whenever possible. Opening and closing dates for specific areas and gear types are determined by DFO area staff in consultation with industry.

7.3 Control and monitoring of removals

In Newfoundland and Labrador Region, all licenced capelin fish harvesters operating vessels greater than or equal to 35 feet length overall, and all purse seine operators regardless of vessel length must, as a condition of licence, provide detailed logbook records of catch and fishing activity, and may be required intermittently throughout the fishery to carry an industry-funded at-sea observer at DFO’s request. Electronic vessel monitoring is required for all mobile and fixed gear tuck seine vessels.

7.4 Species at Risk Act (SARA) requirements

In accordance with the recovery strategies for the northern wolffish (Anarchichas denticulatus), spotted wolffish (Anarchichas minor), and leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea), the licence holder is permitted to carry out commercial fishing activities authorized under the Fisheries Act that may incidentally kill, harm, harass, capture or take the northern wolffish and/or spotted wolffish as per subsection 83(4) of the Species at Risk Act. The license holder is also permitted to carry out commercial fishing activities authorized under the Fisheries Act that are known to incidentally capture leatherback sea turtles.

Licence holders are required to return northern wolffish, spotted wolffish or leatherback turtle to the place from which they were taken, and where they are alive, in a manner that causes the least harm.

Licence holders are required to report in their logbook any interaction with northern wolffish, spotted wolffish or leatherback sea turtles.

7.5 Licencing

The Newfoundland and Labrador 2+3 capelin fishery is governed by the Fisheries Act, and regulations and departmental policies made pursuant to the Act. Applicable regulations and policies include, but are not limited to:

The Fisheries Licensing Policy provides details on the various licensing policies that govern the commercial fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador Region, including species-specific policies applicable to the capelin fishery.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) Resource Management should be consulted for all purposes of interpreting and applying this document.

7.6 Individual quota (IQ) Regimes

In 2+3, portions of White Bay and Notre Dame Bay have IQ fisheries. The main elements of any IQ regime for consideration include:

7.7 Habitat protection measures

Due to the low impact of the capelin fishery on habitat in 2+3, no specific habitat protection measures have been identified.

7.8 Logbooks

Completion of a logbook is mandatory under Section 61 of the Fisheries Act. Fish harvesters are required to record information about fishing catch and effort, and submit this data as specified in the conditions of licence. Fish harvesters are responsible for obtaining their own logbooks. Information that should be in your logbook includes location, date, time, sets, gear type, weight of fish caught and by-catch.

Include information on anything else you think may be useful to you or DFO. Note that marine mammal mitigation measures are now mandatory and you must report all interactions. Failure to submit a logbook may result in enforcement action.

7.9 Sharing

In order to prosecute an orderly harvest and prevent unfair competition, licence conditions provide a definition of “geared up” and the requirements to “share” excess catch by both receiving and providing vessels. To be considered geared up when fishing purse seine, bar seine or modified bar seine, a vessel must be equipped with a purse seine, bar seine or modified bar seine, an operational power block and a tow off vessel.

In order to share excess fish, a harvester must be fully loaded and then share excess catch with a vessel in the same fleet sector that is “geared up”. In order to receive excess fish, a harvester must be fully geared up and receive catch from a vessel in the same fleet sector.

Note that the practice of barging (or supplying one or more inactive participants with catch) is not permitted in this fishery [see section 4.8].

7.10 Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP)

Dockside monitoring is a mechanism to accurately capture the amount of fish being landed to apply against the assigned quotas. It is a management tool used to prevent overruns and with quota reconciliation, it is a vital management tool to ensure accurate accounting.

In CFAs 1-11 (2+3), it is a mandatory requirement for all commercial licence holders to have all capelin catches monitored at dockside. The cost for this monitoring is the responsibility of the fishing industry. Capelin that is landed by non-commercial harvesters but is caught for personal use or recreational purposes is not subject to dockside monitoring.

Fish can only be offloaded in the presence of an individual who is a certified dockside observer. Specific procedures for the monitoring of catch weights at dockside have been developed through consultation with industry and Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) companies. DFO’s accepted method of verification of landings at dockside is a direct weigh-out using certified weight scales.

In 2008, a water deduction of 3% for capelin was adopted following negotiations with industry and subsequent testing. DFO continues to recognize 3% as the accepted water tolerance for weighing of capelin.

7.11 Atlantic salmon mitigation measures

One notable concern is by-catch of salmon and cod taken by pelagic traps. This issue has been discussed with industry over the past several years and measures were taken to minimize the potential for salmon by-catch in the commercial fishery:

Any incidental catch of cod or salmon must be immediately returned to the water, and where it is alive in a manner that causes the least harm.

7.12 Concentration of fishing effort and catches

The majority of the fishing effort and catch occurs in a relatively small part of the overall stock area (especially in the case of the purse seine fishery). How this may impact on local stock components or the stock as a whole is unclear. In view of this uncertainty, it is preferable for the fishery to take place throughout a stock area or over as wide a geographic area as possible.

7.13 Sub-division of fixed gear quota

The current management regime allows fully competitive gear quotas to be applied over geographically large management areas. As a result, fish harvesters in one sector of a quota area may be advantaged by the early arrival of harvestable capelin and therefore have an opportunity to land a greater share of the quota. Conversely, fish harvesters in other locations of the quota area may not see harvestable capelin until later in the season and possibly not until after the entire quota has been taken and the commercial fishery closed.

Proponents of management area sub-divisions argue that this approach promotes a more equitable harvesting opportunity for all licence holders in those cases where there is no industry consensus to implement Individual Quotas. Fixed gear area sub-divisions under the current management plan are listed in Appendix 5.

7.14 Modified bar seines

Modified bar seines (or tuck seines as they are more commonly known) are bar seines fitted with rings that allow the bottom and sides of the seine to be brought or hauled together. In recent years, the use of these seines has been authorized in the fixed gear herring, capelin and mackerel fishery in 2+3 based on consultations with the appropriate advisory committee.

The maximum tuck seine length allowed in the capelin fishery is 80 fathoms. Fixed gear capelin fish harvesters are authorized by way of licence conditions to use modified bar seines during the 2017 season.

7.15 Trip limits

In 1990, at the request of industry, a 22,680 kg (50,000 pound) trip limit was implemented in the purse seine fishery in 2J3KL and 3Ps. This measure was introduced as a measure to slow the rate of harvesting and provide equitable harvesting opportunities for small capacity seiners. In 2005, in consultation with industry, trip limits were discontinued for the purse seine fleet in 2J3KL and 3Ps and replaced with a daily limit of 31,780 kg (70,000 lbs).

For the purse seine fleet in 2017, a daily limit is set at 22,690 kg (50,000 lbs) with a seasonal cap of 190,680 kgs (420,000 lbs). These management measures for the capelin fishery in 2J3KL and 3Ps will continue in order to slow the harvest rate and improve quota monitoring. These measures should improve the quality and value of fish landed, while allowing for maximum utilization of available harvest.

For fixed gear in all bays in 2017, a 15,890 kgs (35,000 lbs) daily limit applies.

8.0 Shared stewardship arrangements

DFO will work with industry to strengthen the participation of stakeholders in the advisory process. The 2+3 capelin advisory committee was established to provide industry with a formal and direct mechanism for input into the management of the fishery. This committee is now the principle advisory body for the management of 2+3 capelin within Newfoundland and Labrador region.

8.1 Oceans management initiatives promoting shared stewardship

DFO is leading initiatives in integrated oceans management, including MPA network planning, within the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves and Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregions. This provides a collaborative governance model founded on principles of shared responsibility. As a result, stewardship is promoted by providing a forum for consultation with stakeholders who want to be engaged in marine resource or activity management decisions that affect them.

Aligning integrated oceans management with fisheries management plans will support evidence based resource use and fisheries management decisions. These decisions will be made with input from multiple interests, including commercial fisheries and other stakeholder groups.

8.2 Working arrangements: existing agreements

The DFO-World Wildlife Fund Canada Collaborative Agreement brings together both parties to work toward a common goal: the conservation, protection, and sustainable development of Canada’s oceans as mandated by the Oceans Act. It is agreed that DFO and WWF Canada will work jointly to promote long-term and sustainable use of the oceans resources.

9.0 Compliance plan

9.1 Conservation and Protection program description

The deployment of Conversation and Protection (C&P) resources in the Newfoundland and Labrador capelin fishery is conducted in conjunction with the management plan objectives as well as in response to emerging issues. The mix of enforcement options available and over-riding conservation objectives determine the level and type of enforcement activity.

Work plans at the area, detachment and regional levels are designed to establish priorities based on management objectives and conservation concerns. The monitoring and evaluation elements of enforcement work plans facilitate in-season adjustments should conservation concerns and/or occurrences of significant non-compliance emerge.

9.2 Compliance program delivery

The Conservation and Protection program promotes and maintains compliance with legislation, regulations and management measures. The program is delivered through a balanced regulatory management and enforcement approach, including:

Pillar 1: Education and shared stewardship

Conservation and Protection officers actively participate in consultation processes with the fishing industry and Indigenous groups to address compliance issues. Informal meetings with stakeholders also occur on an ad-hoc basis to resolve in-season matters, in addition to regular interaction with fish harvesters. The consultative process may include C&P membership on Area Integrated Management Planning Committees, which are composed of fish harvesters, representatives from the provincial and federal governments, and other community groups with an interest in fishery conservation issues.

Fishery officers also visit local schools and educational institutions to present and discuss fisheries conservation issues and use this information as part of the C&P planning process.

Pillar 2: Monitoring, control and surveillance

Compliance monitoring

C&P promotes compliance with management measures governing the fishery through:

Patrols by vehicle, vessel and fixed-wing aircraft are conducted in accordance with operational plans which are developed based on available intelligence.

Each C&P Detachment ensures that monitoring and inspections of fish landing activity are carried out on a routine basis. Where a vessel is selected for comprehensive inspection, C&P ensures that catch composition, weight verification and size variation sampling is conducted. C&P also ensures that surveillance flights are conducted on a routine basis.

The VMS system provides real-time data on the location of vessels within portions of this fleet. C&P uses this resource to help determine where the enterprise is fishing, the port of destination and the estimated time of arrival to port. VMS data will also be relied upon for future analysis and comparisons of fishing activity. 

At-sea observers are randomly deployed to observe, record and report aspects of the fishing activity. The resulting data is used to compare catch composition of vessels on observed trips vs. non-observed trips. C&P also reviews quota monitoring reports to ensure individual quotas are not exceeded.

C&P supplies best-known available local information to the National Fisheries Intelligence Service for processing and uses this intelligence to combat all types of illegal fishing activity.

Notice of closure will be provided on very short notice in some instances and closures will be strictly enforced by all available patrol vessels. Capelin will not be permitted to be brought on board a vessel after the time of closure. Air surveillance will be arranged as available and where appropriate.

C&P reviews quota monitoring reports to ensure individual quotas are not exceeded. Infractions involving exceeding the daily limits may not be identified until after the closure of the fishery due to other priorities during the fishery.

C&P supplies information to NFIS on a regular basis. This information is documented and analyzed to strategically direct efforts towards combatting illegal activity in the capelin fishery.

Compliance performance

DFO conducts post-season analysis sessions to review issues encountered during the previous season and to make recommendations on improving management measures. The initial sessions are conducted at the area level, followed by a regional session with other DFO sectors.

In the past five years, C&P has averaged approximately 2,650 hours annually of Monitoring, Control and Surveillance activities in the capelin 2+3 fishery. See Appendix 8.

Pillar 3: Major case

C&P recognizes the need to focus attention on high-risk illegal activities that pose significant threat to the achievement of conservation objectives, which usually cannot be addressed through education or routine monitoring. Some individuals motivated by financial gain persist through various complex and well-coordinated means in hiding illegal activities which put Canada’s aquatic resources at risk.

Detailed analysis of license holders and processing companies will be completed using fishery profiling, targeting of high-risk violators, conducting forensic investigations, and accessing the resources of the National Fisheries Intelligence Service.

Targeting of high-risk violators and/or processing facilities will also be a primary focus should gathered intelligence warrant such action. Any resulting operations will be conducted in conjunction with NFIS staff, field staff and area resources as required.

Current compliance issues

The focus of C&P efforts for the duration of this IFMP is on the following areas:

Special attention will be given to inspecting tuck seines (including pre-season inspections), barging and quota monitoring, as well as by-catch of salmon and enforcing closures.

9.3 Compliance strategy

C&P has developed an operational plan which outlines monitoring and compliance activities that will be carried out by C&P personnel adjacent to capelin management areas. The plan will provide guidance for C&P, promote effective monitoring of the fishery, and enable C&P personnel to effectively maintain compliance with management measures governing this fishery.

The objective is to collect information for ensuring compliance and conducting investigations. Sources of information used by C&P include:

10.0 Performance review

A review of the short-term and long-term objectives during the annual planning cycle is an integral part of reviewing the performance of the fishery. During the regional assessment process on the status of the stock, DFO Science may consider the applicable objectives in providing its advice. For fisheries management, the advisory meeting with industry is a formal setting to review both short and long-term objectives. In addition to these formal reviews, DFO and industry representatives have an on-going dialogue on the fishery on a year-round basis. These informal discussions provide opportunities to review objectives and identify issues for discussion at the annual advisory meeting.

DFO NL Region completes an annual internal post-season review with participation from Resource Management, Conservation and Protection, and Science staff. Regional headquarters and area-based staff participate in this process to identify local, area and regional fishery performance issues. DFO undertakes every effort to outline steps to address these issues, including assigning responsibility and setting timelines for completion. Those items not resolved during the post-season review are carried forward to the following year to be addressed.

The performance review outlines the activities and controls that are used in achieving fisheries management objectives. Table 1 identifies the specific strategies that are used to achieve fisheries management objectives.

Table 1: Measurable objectives/activities and fisheries management strategies
Objectives Fisheries Management Strategies
Conservation and sustainable Harvest
To conserve the capelin resource to provide commercial sustainability to fish harvesters
  • Fishing season
  • Total Allowable Catch
  • Quota monitoring
To mitigate the impacts on other species, habitat and the ecosystem where capelin fishing occurs, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function
  • Mandatory reporting of lost gear
  • Prohibit use of monofilament netting material
  • Species at Risk Act
To promote the development of sustainable fishing practices
  • Implement measures that discourage illegal practices
  • Licence holders shall only fish in the area(s) and with the type and quantity of gear permitted
To employ effective monitoring and surveillance tools and mechanisms that ensure compliance with conservation measures and provide scientists with appropriate information and basic data required to manage the capelin fishery
  • The accurate completion of logbooks
  • Reliable Dockside Monitoring Program
  • Adequate level of spatial and temporal at-sea observer coverage
  • Adherence to electronic vessel monitoring system (VMS) requirements
Benefits to Stakeholders
To promote the continued development of a
commercially viable and self-sustaining fishery
  • Aboriginal access and allocation formulas are maintained in the management plan and opportunities for additional access are addressed through the Allocation Transfer Program
To provide fish harvesters with increased
opportunity for long-term business stability
  • Stable sharing arrangements
  • Evergreen management plans
To promote a co-management approach, providing stakeholders with an effective sharing of responsibility, accountability and decision making, within the constraints of the Fisheries Act
  • Establish an effective consultative process for stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process
  • Organize and participate in annual advisory meetings
  • Improve management of fishery through co-management

Fisheries and Oceans Canada measures the performance of the fisheries that it manages through the Sustainability Survey for Fisheries. The survey is published every year and currently includes 170 fish stocks, with more added each year. The fish stocks were selected because of their economic or cultural importance; they represent the majority of total catch of fisheries managed by DFO.

The Sustainability Survey for Fisheries reports on the status of each fish stock and DFO’s progress to implement its Sustainable Fisheries Framework policies, a set of national policies to guide the sustainable management of Canada’s fisheries.

11.0 Glossary of terms

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge: knowledge that is held by and unique to Aboriginal peoples. It is a living body of knowledge that is cumulative and dynamic, and adapted over time to reflect changes in the social, economic, environmental, spiritual and political spheres of the Aboriginal knowledge holders. It often includes knowledge about the land and its resources, spiritual beliefs, language, mythology, culture, laws, customs and medicines.

Abundance: number of individuals in a stock or a population

Age Composition: proportion of individuals of different ages in a stock or in the catches

Anadromous: a species such as Atlantic salmon that spends most of its life at sea but returns to fresh water grounds to spawn in the river it comes from

Area/Subarea: an area defined by the Convention on Future Multilateral Cooperation in the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries by NAFO, and as described in the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985

Biomass: total weight of all individuals in a stock or a population

Bioregion: a biogeographic division of Canada's marine waters out to the edge of the Exclusive Economic Zone, and including the Great Lakes, based on attributes such as bathymetry, influence of freshwater inflows, distribution of multi-year ice, and species distribution. Canada’s marine protected areas network is being advanced in five priority marine bioregions: the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Scotian Shelf, the Newfoundland-Labrador Shelves, the Western Arctic, and the Northern Shelf

By-catch: the unintentional catch of one species when the target is another species

Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE): the amount caught for a given fishing effort, e.g. tonnes of shrimp per tow or kilograms of fish per hundred longline hooks

Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC):  committee of experts who assess and designate which wild species are in some danger of disappearing from Canada

Communal Commercial Licence: licence issued to Aboriginal organizations pursuant to the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations for participation in the general commercial fishery

Discards: portion of a catch thrown back into the water after it is caught in fishing gear

Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP): A monitoring program conducted by a company that has been designated by DFO to verify the species composition and landed weight of all fish landed from a commercial fishing vessel

Ecosystem-Based Management: taking into account species interactions and the interdependencies between species and their habitats when making resource management decisions

Fishing Effort: quantity of effort using a given fishing gear over a given period of time

Fishing Mortality: death caused by fishing, often symbolized by the mathematical symbol F

Fixed Gear: a type of fishing gear that is set in a stationary position. This includes traps, weirs, gillnets, longlines, handlines, bar/beach seines and modified bar seines (known as tuck seines)

Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC): a fishery conducted by Aboriginal groups for food, social and ceremonial purposes

Gillnet: fishing gear: netting with weights on the bottom and floats at the top used to catch fish. Gillnets can be set at different depths and are anchored to the seabed

Groundfish: species of fish living near the bottom such as cod, haddock, halibut and flatfish

Handlining: fishing using a line with usually one baited hook and moving it up and down in a series of short movements; also called "jigging"

Landings: quantity of a species caught and landed

Longlining: using long lines with a series of baited hooks to catch fish

Maximum Sustainable Yield: largest average catch that can continuously be taken from a stock

Mesh Size: size of the mesh of a net. Different fisheries have different minimum mesh size regulations

Mobile Gear: any type of fishing gear that is drawn through the water by a vessel to entrap fish, including purse seines

Natural Mortality: mortality due to natural causes, represented by the mathematical symbol M

Observer Coverage: carrying a certified at-sea observer onboard a fishing vessel for a specific period of time to verify the amount of fish caught, the area in which it was caught and the method by which it was caught

Otolith: structure of the inner ear of fish, made of calcium carbonate. Also called "ear bone" or "ear stone". Otoliths are examined to determine the age of fish as annual rings can be observed and counted. Daily increments are also visible on larval otoliths

Pelagic: fish that lives in the water column or close to the surface

Population: group of individuals of the same species, forming a breeding unit, and sharing a habitat

Precautionary Approach: set of agreed cost-effective measures and actions, including future courses of action, which ensures prudent foresight, reduces or avoids risk to the resource, the environment, and the people, to the extent possible, taking explicitly into account existing uncertainties and the potential consequences of being wrong

Purse Seine: large net used to encircle fish and equipped with a wire rope on the bottom to draw the net together. A small boat, called a "skiff", participates in manoeuvring the net.

Quota: portion of the Total Allowable Catch that a fleet, vessel class, association, country, etc. is permitted to take from a stock in a given period of time

Recruitment: the number of individuals growing large enough to become part of the exploitable stock, e.g. that can be caught in a fishery

Research Survey: survey at sea, on a research vessel, allowing scientists to obtain information on the abundance and distribution of various species and/or collect oceanographic data (e.g., bottom trawl survey, plankton survey, hydroacoustic survey, etc.)

Species at Risk Act (SARA): a federal law enabling the Government to take action to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. It provides the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of their biological diversity.

Spawner: sexually mature individual

Spawning Stock: sexually mature individuals in a stock

Stock: a population of individuals of one species found in a particular area, and used as a unit for fisheries management, e.g. NAFO area 4R Herring

Stock Assessment: scientific evaluation of the status of a fish stock within a particular area in a given time period

Total Allowable Catch (TAC): the amount of catch that may be taken from a stock

Traditional Ecological Knowledge: a cumulative body of knowledge and beliefs, handed down through generations by cultural transmission, about the relationship of living beings (including humans) with one another and with their environment

Tonne: metric tonne, 1000kg or 2204.6 lbs

Trawl: fishing gear; a cone-shaped net towed in the water by a boat called a "trawler". Bottom trawls are towed along the ocean floor to catch species such as groundfish, while mid-water trawls are towed through the water column

Validation: the verification by an observer of the weight of fish landed

Vessel Size: length overall

Year-class: individuals of a same stock born in a particular year, also called "cohort"

Appendix 1: Stock assessment results

Science advice, proceedings and stocks assessments/scientific evaluations resulting from Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) meetings are available in the CSAS publications section. 

Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) research documents and associated reports are available on the NAFO website.

Appendix 2: Management measures for the duration of the plan

This Integrated Fisheries Management Plan, combined with responsible fishing practices, should ensure that the conservation goals are met. However, if the fishery is not conducted in an orderly manner, DFO may implement additional management measures or controls in these fisheries.

Appendix 3: Membership of 2+3 Capelin Advisory Committee

Name Organization Name DFO
Floyd Stockley Notre Dame Seafoods Erin Dunne Resource Management
Karl Sullivan Barry Group Derek Tobin Resource Management
Pearce Perry Beothuk David Small Area Resource Mgt
Edgar Coffey Quinsea Laurie Hawkins Area Resource Mgt
John Boland FFAW Wayne King Area Resource Mgt
Roland Hedderson FFAW Chad Ward Conservation & Protection
Monty Way FFAW Paul Glavine Policy & Economics
Shelly Dwyer Province of Newfoundland and Labrador Fran Mowbray Science
Robbie Green Fish harvester Hannah Murphy Science
Ivan Batten Fish harvester Jason Burton Fish harvester
Eldred Woodford Fish harvester Albert Wells Fish harvester
Shelley White Fish harvester Dennis Chaulk Fish harvester
Neil Stuckless Fish harvester Everett Roberts Fish harvester
Wayne Hicks Fish harvester Gord Rice Fish harvester
Trevor Jones Fish harvester Doug Wells Fish harvester
Michael Simmonds Fish harvester Brad Rideout Fish harvester

Appendix 4: capelin Fishing Areas around NL

Appendix 5: Capelin quota reports for 2015-2017
* To ensure that private information cannot be extracted from fishery landings and catch information, DFO does not provide landings and catch information for a specific fishery when the fishery has fewer than five fishing enterprises, five fishing vessels or five buyers participating in a fishery. This measure protects the privacy and economic interests of participants in the fishery. Note: totals and sub-totals reflect actual amounts landed
NAFO Quota Definition Quota Catch 2015 Catch 2016 Catch 2017
(M.T.) (M.T.) (M.T.) (M.T.)
2J Labrador - Fixed Gear < 65' 120 * * *
 Sub-Total 120   *
3K White Bay - Mobile Gear < 65' 1200 1812 3032 *
Notre Dame Bay - Mobile Gear < 65' 1200 1297 * 1214
Cape Bauld to Fishott Island - Fixed Gear < 65' 772 * * *
Fishott Island to Cape Fox - Fixed Gear < 65' 260 * * *
Cape Fox to Hampton, Inclusive - Fixed Gear < 65' 1020 1470 1614 *
Bottom of White Bay to Cape St. John - Fixed Gear < 65' 1528 1581 * *
Cape St. John to North Head - Fixed Gear < 65' 1340 1767 1798 1204
North Head to Dog Bay Point - Fixed Gear < 65' 2776 3948 2446 1204
Dog Bay Point to Cape Freels - Fixed Gear <65' 624 * * *
 Sub-Total 10,720  13,644  10,744   3,761
3L Bonavista Bay - Mobile Gear < 65' 1140 1368 2195 1410
Trinity Bay - Mobile Gear < 65' 1496 2292 1211 1697
Conception Bay - Mobile Gear < 65' 2848 2504 2619 3000
St. Mary's Bay Mobile < 65' 1344 * * *
Bonavista Bay - Fixed Gear < 65' 1996 2670 3429 3489
Trinity Bay - Fixed Gear < 65' 3592 1436 3913 3589
Conception Bay - Fixed Gear < 65' 2968 916 3252 2971
Cape St. Francis to Long Point - Fixed Gear < 65' 480 * * *
Long Point to Cape Neddick - Fixed Gear < 65' 320 * * *
Cape Neddick to Cape Pine - Fixed Gear < 65’ 91 * * *
Cape Neddick to Cape Pine – Competitive Fixed Gear < 65’ 949 * * *
St. Mary's Bay Fixed Gear < 65' 400 * * *
Sub-Total 17,624 11,377 16,620 16,156
3Ps Placentia Bay Mobile Gear 208 * * *
Fortune Bay and West Mobile Gear 24 * * *
Placentia Bay Fixed Gear 1392 * * *
Fortune Bay and West 408 * * *
Sub-Total 2,032 * * *
  TOTAL 30,496 25,021 27,364 19,917

Appendix 6: Safety at sea

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.

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.

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 the seaworthiness of the vessel, vessel stability, having the required safety equipment in good working order, crew training, and knowledge of current and forecasted weather conditions.

Useful publications include Transport Canada’s Small Fishing Vessel Safety Manual which can be obtained from TC or printed from their website.

Fishing vessel safety includes three priority areas:

Fishing vessel stability

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.

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.

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

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.

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. MED provides a basic understanding of the hazards associated with the marine environment, the prevention of shipboard incidents (including fires), raising and reacting to alarms, fire and abandonment situations, and the skills necessary for survival and rescue.

Cold water immersion

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.

The effects of cold water on the body occur in four stages: cold shock, swimming failure, hypothermia and 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


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

Vessel owners and masters should ensure that all crew are able to activate the Search and Rescue system by contacting the Canadian Coast Guard 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, which will task and co-ordinate rescue resources.

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 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.

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.

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

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 encourgaged 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.

Vessels required to participate in VTS include:

Exceptions include:

Additional information can be found on the Collision Regulations page.

Sail plan

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.

Appendix 7: Allocations by Area, gear type and fleet for 2+3
NAFO Fleet Quota area 2017 Quota
2J Fixed Gear Labrador 120
TOTAL 2J 120
3K Mobile Gear White Bay 1,200
Notre Dame Bay 1,200
Fixed Gear Cape Bauld to Fishott Island 772
Fishott Island to Cape Fox 260
Cape Fox to Hampton, Inclusive 1,020
Bottom of White Bay to Cape St. John - IQ 1,528
Cape St. John to North Head – IQ 1,340
North Head to Dog Bay Point 2,776
Dog Bay Point to Cape Freels 624
TOTAL 3K 10,720
3L Mobile Gear Bonavista Bay 1,140
Trinity Bay 1,496
Conception Bay 2,848
Southern Shore 0
St. Mary's Bay 1,344
Fixed Gear Bonavista Bay 1,996
Trinity Bay 3,592
Conception Bay 2,968
Cape St. Francis to Long Point - IQ 480
Long Point to Cape Neddick – IQ 320
Cape Neddick to Cape Pine – IQ 91
Cape Neddick to Cape Pine - Competitive 949
St. Mary's Bay 400
TOTAL 3L 17,624
3Ps Mobile Gear Placentia Bay 208
Fortune Bay and West 24
Fixed Gear Placentia Bay 1,392
Fortune Bay and West 408
TOTAL 3Ps 2,032
Total capelin 30,496

Appendix 8: Enforcement data for 2+3 capelin

Table 3: 2013-2017 NL Region Enforcement Activity – 2+3 Capelin
Year NAFO Zone Fishery Officer Patrol Hours Non Patrol Enforcement Hours Program Other Total Fishery Officer Hours Vessels Checked Persons Checked Gear Checks Sites Checked
2013 2J3KLPs 357 766 41 1164 66 19 45 16
2014 2J3KLPs 415 1548.75 57.5 2021.25 131 50 36 38
2015 2J3KLPs 532.5 1617 54 2203.5 313 103 54 26
2016 2J3KLPs 782.5 2564 258 3604.5 435 170 90 50
2017 2J3KLPs 745 3394.75 119.25 4259 315 85 58 129
Five Year Average 2J3KLPs 566 1978 106 2650 252 85 57 52
2013-2017 NL Region Enforcement Hours for 2+3 Capelin
Appendix 9: Departmental contacts
Contact Telephone Fax Email
DFO-NL Regional Headquarters
P.O. Box 5667, St. John’s, NL A1C 5X1
Erin Dunne
Resource Manager, Pelagics
(709) 772-4680 (709) 772-3628
Daryl Walsh
Conservation & Protection
(709) 772-6423 (709) 772-4327
Frank Corbett
Policy Analyst
(709) 772-6935 (709) 772-4583
Fran Mowbray
(709) 772-5542
DFO-NL Area Offices Resource Management
David Small
Area Chief (3KL)
Grand Falls-Windsor
(709) 292-5167 (709) 292-5205
Wayne King
Area Chief (2J)
Happy Valley–Goose Bay
(709) 896-6157 (709) 896-8419
Laurie Hawkins
Area Chief (3P, 4R)
Corner Brook
(709) 637-4310 (709) 637-4445
DFO-NL Area Offices – Conservation & Protection
Chad Ward
Area Chief (3KLPs)
St. John’s
(709) 772-5857 (709) 772-2659
Brent Watkins
Area Chief
(2GHJ, 3K, 4R3Pn)
Corner Brook
(709) 637-4334 (709) 637-4213
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