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Capelin Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Divisions 4RST (Capelin Fishing Areas 12-16)

Effective 2017


(Mallotus villosus)

This is the multi-year Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) for the Gulf of St. Lawrence Capelin fishery in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO division 4RST which encompasses Capelin Fishing Areas 12-16. This plan has been developed in consultation with capelin fish harvesters and other stakeholders and is an evergreen IFMP.

The purpose of this IFMP is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the Capelin fishery, as well as the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate the 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 claim 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 the land claim agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

This IFMP was developed in 2017 and it will be 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 and Status - NAFO Divisions 4RS
3.0 Economics 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

The 4RST capelin fishery dates back over 100 years. Capelin was used extensively for agricultural fertilizer, bait for the cod fishery or as dog food. Capelin were traditionally dried, smoked, salted and frozen for human or animal consumption.

The fishery for roe capelin in 4RST (Capelin Fishing Areas 12-16) began during the late 1970's with Japan as the primary market destination for roe-bearing females. In recent years, new markets have been developed for non-roe-bearing females and males. The capelin fisheries in Norway and Iceland occur during the early part of the year. This has resulted in increased demand for capelin products and improved market opportunities and prices during the 4RST capelin season, which benefits the local fish economy.

In the late 1970's and early 1980's, a very small number of fish harvesters prosecuted the capelin fishery for commercial purposes. As the prominence of the Japanese roe capelin markets grew from the mid to the late 1980's, so too did the number of commercial fish harvesters. In the 1970's, midwater trawls and then purse seining were introduced as new fishing technology. Today the purse seine and modified bar seine (tuck seine) are successfully used in the inshore capelin fishery.

1.2 Type of Fishery

The 4RST capelin fishery is managed on the basis of a single Total Allowable Catch (TAC). The TAC is subdivided into three allocation categories:

The 4RST (CFA 12-16) capelin fishery for fishing vessels >65' is a competitive fishery; whereas the 4R (CFA 12-14) mobile gear fishery for vessels <65' is managed on an Individual Quota (IQ) basis. An allocation of TAC is set aside for the <65' fixed gear fishery.

1.3 Participants

There are 235 fixed gear licences in CFA 12, and 21 mobile gear licences in CFAS 12-14 (16 <65' and five >65'). In CFA 15, there are 60 fixed gear licences and six mobile gear licences.In CFA 16, there are four fixed gear licences and six mobile gear licences. Two of these mobile gear licences are > 65' Gulf-based licences.

In 1992, in response to the Supreme Court of Canada Sparrow decision, DFO introduced a strategy to increase Indigenous access in the capelin fishery. Included in the afore-mentioned number of commercial licences is a single communal commercial capelin licence issued to an Indigenous organization in Newfoundland and Labrador.

1.4 Location of the Fishery

This IFMP covers the capelin fishery in NAFO division 4RST.

Figure 1: Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Subareas and NAFO Divisions.

1.5 Fishery Characteristics

The 4RST capelin fishery is managed on a two-year management plan. The current management cycle runs from January 1 to December 31 annually. Science advice on the stock and subsequent advisory meetings with industry occurs every two years. Additional review meetings with industry may be added to this schedule for any reason deemed appropriate by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Capelin is fished using both fixed and mobile gear. The fixed gear capelin 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' and >65' purse seine vessels. The mobile gear fishery occurs where the resource is available in Capelin Fishing Areas 12-16.

1.6 Governance

The 4RST capelin 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 the:

Capelin management is conducted through a multi-region 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. A list of advisory 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 advisory meeting which is held every two years.

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 and Status - NAFO Divisions 4RST

2.1 Biological Characteristics

Capelin, a member of the Osmeridae family, is silvery in color and has a fusiform body. During the spawning period, there is a pronounced sexual dimorphism; males can be distinguished from females by their larger fins and by the occurrence of two pairs of spawning carina (elongated scales), one dorsal and the other ventral.

Spawning is preceded by intense migration towards the coast and occurs inter-tidally on beaches and in deeper nearshore waters (<40 m). In the first case, capelin literally “roll” on the sandy or fine gravel beaches. Spawning occurs at water temperatures of 6-10°C and is more predominant at night. It is theorized that spawning mode depends on environmental conditions (i.e. water temperature) though there may also be genetic or phenotypic components. The eggs, which are reddish in color and approximately 1 mm in diameter, attach to the substrate. Hatch success (%), size at which capelin hatch, as well as time to hatchling starvation all decrease significantly with increasing salinity but varies somewhat across populations, with deeper water spawners having higher tolerances to higher salinities (though this has not been specifically measured in 4RST capelin). The incubation period varies according to ambient temperature, lasting for approximately 15 days at 10°C. Upon hatching, larvae quickly adopt a planktonic existence and remain near the surface until the arrival of winter. The most significant growth period occurs during the first year.

Males are longer than females, with maximum lengths rarely above 210 mm. Capelin can spawn at age 2 and nearly 100% of males die following reproduction. Changing environmental conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will accordingly have an impact on capelin recruitment and survival.

On the west coast of Newfoundland-Labrador, mean lengths (mm) of female and male [see figure 2] capelin decreased between 1986 and 1993. As fishing effort is dependent upon fish size, the fishery was cut short in 1994, and almost completely closed in 1995. Capelin size stabilized between 1996 and 1998, before decreasing again in 1999. Lengths have increased between 1999 and 2005 and have currently stabilized. In 2010, the mean length was 146 mm for females compared to 165 mm for males.

The mean capelin lengths on the east coast of Newfoundland-Labrador (Divisions 3K and 3L) show the same annual variations as those on the west coast [see figure 2]. However, capelin was larger on the east coast compared to the west coast during the 1980s.

Figure 2: Mean length (mm) of female (A) and male (B) capelin caught with purse seine in NAFO division 4R since 1984. Mean lengths for the east coast of Newfoundland-Labrador (Divisions 3K and 3L) are also presented (Dr. B. Nakashima, DFO, St. John's, pers. comm.). Horizontal lines are the average ± 0.5 x standard deviation for NAFO division 4R.

2.2 Ecosystem Interactions

Capelin represent a very significant link in the food chain as a keystone species of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence as they allow the transfer of energy from primary and secondary producers to higher trophic levels. Models of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (Divisions 4RS) marine ecosystem indicate that the main cause of capelin mortality is predation [see figure 3], mostly by large cod (gadus morhua) and redfish (sebaste spp.) during the mid-1980s, and by cetaceans, harp seals (phoca groenlandica) and greenland halibut (reinhardtius hippoglossoides) during the mid-1990s and the early 2000s [see figure 4]. Recent analyses indicated that redfish were the main predators during the mid-2000s.

In the early 2000s, despite a sharp drop in cod and redfish abundance, nearly 400,000 tonnes of capelin was still consumed by predators making this small fish the principle forage species of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence marine ecosystem over the last 20 years.

Figure 3: Main causes of mortality (t km-2 yr-1) for the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence Capelin (NAFO Divisions 4RS) from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s.
Figure 4: Predation mortality details according to different models of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (Divisions 4RS) marine ecosystem from the mid-1980s to the mid-2000s.

Capelin are amongst the main species found in catches of the northern and southern Gulf of St. Lawrence multi-disciplinary groundfish research surveys conducted annually. Research is currently being conducted to ascertain whether capelin occurrence and realised niche varies as a function of the presence of its main predators (cod, halibut and turbot). This research follows from observations in recent years that capelin were not found in areas where cod were also being caught and might represent a form of predator avoidance.

Capelin is a regular by-catch of the shrimp fishery. In the spring, in areas such as the Esquiman Channel and western Anticosti, the number of capelin caught by shrimp harvesters can be significant. Some fishermen avoid certain sectors to avoid catching too many capelin. According to observers' data (coverage of 5%), capelin by-catch by shrimpers decreased from 877 tonnes in 1993 to a low of 113 tonnes in 1996, a direct consequence of the arrival of the Nordmore grid. Thereafter, capelin by-catch fluctuated between 110 tonnes (2007) and 536 tonnes (2009). Since 2012, however, capelin by-catch has decreased and reflects recent decreases in commercial shrimp landings [see figure 5].

Figure 5: Annual capelin by-catch estimates (t) from the commercial shrimp fishery since 2000 as well as location and amount of capelin landed from 2000 to 2015.
Source: H. Bourdages, DFO, Mont-Joli, pers. comm.; Biorex and Seawatch Observer program.

2.3 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.

2.4 Stock Assessment Process

There is no directed abundance survey for capelin in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence; however, one is planned for the spring of 2018 following the stock evaluation in February 2018. Consequently, it is not possible to calculate abundance, fishing mortality, and limit reference points which could help to establish, according to the Precautionary Approach, a strategic framework for the fishery and a Total Allowable Catch (TAC). The current TACs (12,315 tonnes for division 4R and 1,985 tonnes for divisions 4ST) were based on market needs instead of biomass and biological information.

2.5 Precautionary Approach

An exploitation strategy based on the Precautionary Approach should vary according to a stock's abundance and its capacity to produce recruits. This capacity is measured by the relationship between a stock and its recruits. Reference levels are set in order to characterize a stock based on three abundance zones:

Such reference levels have not been calculated for capelin in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence because of the absence of a directed abundance survey for this species.

In Europe, consumption estimates have been established to determine the predation pressure and the amount of capelin needed by the ecosystem. For the Barents Sea capelin stock, the management strategy approach is based on the rule that, with 95% probability, at least 200,000 tonnes of capelin should be allowed to spawn. Consequently, 200,000 tonnes is used as a Blim. An acoustic survey is conducted to calculate the spawning stock biomass and an analytical model is used to calculate the probability of spawning biomass being below Blim, as a function of catch.

Since the mid-1990s, some initiatives have been introduced to certify the viability of the commercially exploited resources. Some criteria have been established to determine whether a fishery was managed responsibly. When a fishery is, the products from this fishery are identified “eco-certified”. One of the criteria used to identify a responsible fishery is the presence of reference levels. These levels have yet to be determined for capelin in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Capelin was recognized as a species of ecological importance for the integrated management of the Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem. The conservation objective was defined as followed: To ensure that capelin is not perturbed by human activities to a point that it cannot fill its role as an important element of the trophic network of the ecosystem. At the current catch level, fishing mortality has no noticeable effects on the capelin population. However, it is impossible to assess how this population and the rest of the ecosystem would be impacted by a significant catch increase, since capelin abundance fluctuations are mainly the result of natural causes (predation and spawning). As the species' maximum life span is short (4-5 years), abundance is subject to abrupt changes because the population is only made up of a few age groups.

Although the commercial fishery may harvest a very small proportion of the total biomass, it is recommended that any TAC increase should be made cautiously due to the absence of an abundance survey and the capelin's prominent role as a forage species in the marine ecosystem and not exceed 10% in a given year.

2.6 Stock Status

There is a lack of information concerning the status (abundance) and the stock structure and dynamics of the 4RST capelin. The role that certain environmental variables might have on the species' distribution and its accessibility to fishing sites is not well known. Over the years, significant variations of capelin occurrence and abundance have been observed at the traditional spawning and fishing sites. These variations are cause for uncertainty and also interfere with the Industry's economic performance and prosperity (the egg-bearing female fishery is very lucrative). The factors responsible for these variations are unknown. They could be natural (abundance variations) and/or linked to the environment (climate change) and to habitat quality.

Capelin use various types of beaches to spawn. However, in capelin populations outside of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, it is increasingly understood that egg and larvae survival rate depends on the physical characteristics of the spawning grounds (example, sediment type, size, salinity, water temperature, and to a lesser extent on wind orientation, direction and speed; tides, etc) and their impact on spawning success (recruitment). Research on the effect of beach choice and beach characteristics have been examined in Newfoundland-Labrador region (NAFO Div. 3L) and research has begun on this question on the north coast of the St. Lawrence. This knowledge is important as many beaches undergo significant natural erosion. In addition, some are under anthropogenic pressure such as rock embankments to protect the back shore. These constructions often increase wave energy which in turn increases the sediment transport process. Knowledge of a beach's physical characteristics and productivity could ensure better protection of the Capelin reproductive habitat and ensure that appropriate materials are used when restoring a beach.

3.0 Economics of the Fishery

3.1 Socio-economic Profile

Capelin landings have fluctuated throughout the past decade ranging from the low observed in 2017 of about 1,973 tonnes to a high of approximately 12,300 tonnes in 2011 [see table 1]. Typically, the vast majority (>85%) of 4RST capelin (CFAS 12-16) landings occur in Newfoundland and Labrador region, with smaller amounts landed in other regions by Quebec-based and Gulf-based fish harvesters. While not a consistent occurrence, there are some years when fish harvesters based in 4ST (CFAS 15-16) land their capelin in Newfoundland and Labrador region.

Over the 2007 to 2017 period, the landed value of the capelin fishery in NAFO divisions 4RST has ranged from a low of around $600,000 in 2017 to a high of approximately $3.4 million in 2016 [see figure 6]. The average annual landed price for capelin has also varied in the past decade, from a low of $0.12/kg in 2010 to a high of $0.35/kg in 2016.

Iceland and Norway also export capelin. The capelin fishery in these countries typically peaks during the months of January to March, much earlier than the capelin fishery in Canada. As a result, capelin exports from these nations may influence the level of Canadian capelin exports from year to year.

Table 1: 4RST Capelin (CFAS 12-16) Landings (tonnes) and Landed Value (000's) - All Regions (2007-2017)
Year Landings (tonnes) Landed Value
2007 7,911 $2,097
2008 10,010 $2,569
2009 12,079 $1,792
2010 10,821 $1,290
2011 12,312 $2,107
2012 9,511 $2,016
2013 6,342 $1,553
2014 5,699 $1,807
2015 11,824 $3,292
2016 9,738 $3,477
2017 1,973 $608
Source: Policy and Economics, DFO Newfoundland-Labrador Region. Data from 2007 to 2017 is preliminary and subject to revision.
Figure 6: 4RST Capelin Landings and Landed Value (000's) 2007 to 2017 - All Regions.
Source: Policy and Economics, DFO Newfoundland-Labrador Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

3.2 Dependence on Capelin

In Newfoundland and Labrador region, capelin accounted for 35% of the total landed value of all species harvested for <35' active enterprises with capelin landings. While herring accounted for 26%, and mackerel for 4%, and other groundfish and shellfish making up the remaining 34%.

For 35' to 64'11" active enterprises with capelin landings, capelin was the most significant species in terms of overall landed value at 30%. Herring was second at 28%, followed by mackerel (12%), shrimp (11%), and lobster (8%). The remainder was made up of other groundfish and shellfish. This is based solely on active enterprises with capelin landings in 2016.

“Dependence” in this analysis is considered to be the percentage contribution of capelin to the total landed value of all species harvested by these enterprises.

3.3 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 Canadian capelin exports were approximately 27,000 tons. A similar amount (approximately 26,000 tonnes) was exported in 2015, which is up from about 21,000 tonnes in 2014 and reflects an increase of about 30% from 2014 to 2016.

China, continues to be a significant export destination for Canadian capelin products with 44% of the export value. The United States (14%), Taiwan (13%), Vietnam (7%), Japan (7%) and Thailand (5%) round out the top six export destinations for Canadian capelin in 2016 [see figure 7]. The “other” category includes South Korea, Ukraine, Hong Kong, Mexico, Tajikistan and other countries.

Figure 7: Canadian Capelin Exports by Country of Destination (2016) based on export value.
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

Atlantic salmon and cod occur as by-catch in capelin traps. DFO closely monitors by-catch and will continue to work with industry and stakeholders to manage this issue.

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.

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. Some existing Fisheries Actclosures have met the criteria for "other measures".

In the case of the 4RST capelin fishery, the Bay of Islands Salmon Migration Closure contributes to Canada's Marine Conservation Targets.

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 (example, Fisheries Act closures) is currently being developed in the Newfoundland-Labrador Shelves and the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence (EGSL) Bioregions.

The Newfoundland and Labrador 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 and Labrador. 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, Newfoundland and Labrador, and to the north by a line drawn south of Henley Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador to approximately Raleigh, Newfoundland and Labrador and along Quebec's southern coast to the west.

The EGSL includes NAFO 4RST and involves three DFO regions, Quebec, Gulf and Newfoundland and Labrador. Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) which have been identified within the two Bioregions will play an important role in the MPA Network.

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.

Figure 8: Map of Newfoundland-Labrador 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 (SARA) by issuing authorizations and permits, when appropriate, with conditions for offsetting, monitoring, and reporting.

4.5 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

Green crab have been found in coastal areas of 4R, particularly near Bonne Bay and in Bay St. George, as far north as Port Saunders.

In NAFO division 4R some invasive tunicates have been located. The membranipora membranacea (coffin box bryozoan) has the most significant impact as it invades kelp beds and breaks off the blades of seaweed, therefore reducing and impacting commercial fish nurseries using this habitat.

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.

4.6 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 4R3Pn in recent years, following consultations with industry in advisory committee meetings.

Mobile and Fixed Gear: purse seine (large and small), tuck seine, gillnet and trap gear used in the 4RST capelin fishery are not considered to have high impact on the ecosystem. By-catch of Atlantic salmon is the main conservation concern in this fishery. Although some seine nets do touch the bottom from time to time, the impact on benthic species and habitats is minimal.

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. Since this practice is not permitted, fish harvesters are encouraged to review their license conditions.

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

5.0 Objectives

5.1 Long-term Objective

DFO strives to manage the 4RST capelin fishery on the principles of conservation and sustainable harvest, as well as ecosystem health and sustainability.

5.2 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. DFO will work with all stakeholders to ensure this objective is achieved and that the 4RST capelin stock allows for an economically viable and self-reliant fishery.

Harvesting levels will be set that allow for the capelin stock to grow and achieve a much 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-catches of other species and small fish.

5.3 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.

Short-term objectives

Long-term objectives

5.4 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.

6.0 Access and Allocation

The fleet shares established for the 4RST capelin stock (CFAS 12-16) 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 fleet, area and gear type, taking into consideration bait requirements in other fisheries and fleet shares. Quotas within each gear sector and area are fished both competitively and by IQs. 4RST geographic sharing arrangements are as follows:

Fleet Sharing Arrangement Percentage
4R Fixed Gear (competitive) 37.82%
4R Mobile Gear < 65' (IQ) 24.15%
4R Mobile Gear > 65' (competitive) 24.15%
4ST All gear types (competitive) 13.88%

6.2 Quotas and Allocations

The Quota Reconciliation Policy was introduced in Capelin Fishing Areas 12-14 in 2011 and in NAFO Sub-Division 4ST in 2013. In the 4ST fishery, geographical sharing is required in order to apply quota reconciliation for that management area.

For overruns in the competitive fishery, the TAC will be reconciled each year (ie. by gear/sector, area and/or overall TAC). For IQ fisheries it will be reconciled each year by individual fish harvester 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 analyzed [see table 2].

Table 2: 4RST Allocations by Fleet, Area and Gear Type
NAFO Fleet Quota Area Quota
4R Fixed Gear South of Cape St. Gregory 431
Cape St. Gregory to Broom Point 431
Broom Point to Point Riche 598
Point Riche to Big Brook 1934
Big Brook to Cape Bauld 1055
Gulf Shore Labrador 959
Mobile Gear West Coast 4R3Pn <65' 3453
West Coast 4R3Pn >65' 3453
Subtotal 4R 12,314
Subtotal 4ST 1,985
Total Allowable Catch 14,300

6.3 Communal Commercial Fisheries

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) 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 re-issue 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 Qalipu Mi'kmaq First Nation Band is issued a commercial communal inshore capelin fishing licence in 4RST.

7.0 Management Measures

7.1 Capelin Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 2017 was set at 14,300 tonnes. This was set at the same level as the 2015-2016 TAC. This conservation approach recognizes the important role capelin plays in the ecosystem as a forage species.

The TAC was established based on the "Performance Report Approach" used to describe current stock status and future prospects, and the outcome of deliberations by the 4RST capelin advisory committee.

7.2 Fishing Seasons/Areas

DFO's primary objective is to ensure that the majority of fish harvesters are provided an opportunity to earn a living and benefit from their adjacent fishing resources.

There are a number of factors DFO takes into consideration when establishing the season for the 4RST capelin fishery, including:

Season dates are regularly discussed in detail as part of the industry consultation process and recommendations are noted on all management measures during the advisory meeting. 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.

Where it is challenging to reach a consensus in specific areas, further discussions with industry and fleet representatives may be required. For example, in a situation where many fish harvesters hold multi-species fishing enterprises and wish to maximize revenues and benefits from each commercial fishery, DFO may be required to conduct a survey of all eligible licence holders in consultation with fleet representatives to ensure a fair and transparent approach is undertaken.

In 4R and 4S (CFAS 12-15), the capelin fishery usually takes place in June and July. By contrast, in 4T (CFA 16), the capelin fishery begins as early as April (in the Estuary), although the highest landings are made in June in the southern Gulf.

For the purpose of this IFMP, DFO is prepared to continue with a flexible approach and unless otherwise stipulated, opening and closing dates for specific areas and gear types are determined by DFO area staff in consultation with industry.

The season for each fishing fleet 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. Closures may occur if it is determined there is no longer 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 overruns. If there is evidence of dumping or wastage at sea, catches may be adjusted upward to reflect the estimated amounts and the capelin 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 4R (CFAS 12-14), those fish harvesters who are required to complete a logbook include:

In 4ST (CFAS 15-16), as a condition of licence, fish harvesters must 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.

Vessel Monitoring System is mandatory on all vessels in the purse seine fleet >35' in 4R (CFAS 12-14) and >65' Gulf-based vessels in 4T (CFA 16). VMS is not mandatory in 4S (CFA 15).

7.4 Decision Rules

The measures outlined in the IFMP, 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.

7.5 Species at Risk Act (SARA) Requirements

In accordance with the recovery strategies for the northern wolffish (anarchichas denticulatus), spotted solffish (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, and the license holder is 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 sea turtle to the place from which it was taken, and where it is 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.

7.6 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 12-14 (4R), 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 and 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 will continue to recognize 3% as the accepted water tolerance for weighing of capelin.


  • in CFA 15 (4S), dockside monitoring is mandatory if capelin is landed at a port outside its region of origin.
  • in CFA 16 (4T), dockside monitoring is mandatory for all Gulf-based commercial licence holders.

7.7 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.

In 1996, monofilament netting material was banned from use in capelin trap leaders, and in 1998, the use of trap net leaders with a mesh size between 76.2 mm and 177.8 mm was prohibited. In 2007, the use of trap net leaders with a mesh greater than 50.8 mm to less than 177.8 mm was prohibited.

DFO agreed to open the fishery during the June 15 to July 31 period in certain areas provided there was some protection afforded for migrating salmon. Consequently, fishing is permitted in capelin Fishing Areas 13 and 14 from June 15 to August 1. However, there are areas around the mouths of certain salmon rivers that could potentially be closed.

There is also a prohibition in the province of Quebec to fish inside 500 m of any point around the mouth of a salmon river as set out in Schedule 6 of the Quebec Fishery Regulations (1990).

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.

DFO is committed to conserving and protecting Atlantic salmon in Newfoundland and Labrador waters, and will continue to consult with stakeholders about salmon possibly being taken as by-catch by capelin seiners in the approaches to salmon rivers in western Newfoundland and Labrador and the Labrador Strait. The areas near the mouths of these rivers are closed to all commercial fishing activity to protect Atlantic salmon and are designated by caution signs which define inland versus coastal waters. Capelin fishing must occur outside the caution signs.

7.8 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.

This is easily accomplished in the fixed gear fishery where fish harvesters are licenced for a particular area/bay. However, in the mobile fleet, the vessels are mobile and will fish where the resource is readily available and abundant.

7.9 Licencing

The Newfoundland and Labrador 4RST 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 Newfoundland and Labrador Region 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's) Resource Management should be consulted for all purposes of interpreting and applying this document.

7.10 Individual Quota (IQ) Regimes

IQs are established in the <65' purse seine fleet based in western Newfoundland and Labrador (CFAS 12-14). This regime has been in effect for this fleet since the mid-1990s. There are no IQs in CFAS 15 or 16.

The main elements of any IQ regime to be considered include the following:

7.11 Logbooks

Completing 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 logbook. Information that should be in your logbook includes:

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.

7.12 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.

8.0 Shared Stewardship Arrangements

DFO will work with industry to strengthen the participation of industry members in the advisory process. The 4RST 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 4RST capelin within the whole Gulf of St. Lawrence ( 4RST).

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 World Wildlife Fund (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 are 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 regional, area and detachment 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. This 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.

Compliance Performance

C&P 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.

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.

C&P will focus on high-risk illegal activities that pose significant conservation threats. Detailed analysis of licence holders and possibly companies will be completed using:

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

Current Compliance Issues

The primary focus of C&P efforts for the duration of this IFMP is on verifying compliance with the requirement to report accurately all fishing activities related to capelin.

Compliance issues in this fishery include:

By-catch monitoring is a primary focus for C&P. DFO has received reports suggesting that some fish harvesters have been targeting other species such as salmon using bait nets and other fixed gear. License conditions have been implemented to help reduce these occurrences by ensuring gear in sensitive areas is placed lower in the water column and runs parallel to the shoreline.

Closures of specific areas have also been implemented and will continue.

C&P understands the economic and conservation benefits of retrieving all catch from gear. As such, C&P is supportive of secondary vessels being used to retrieve capelin catch from gear at the request of another fish harvester where the catch is in excess of the first vessel's capacity/IQ and the secondary vessel has been licensed, readily equipped and is participating in the capelin fishery.

C&P monitors unmonitored landings in the capelin fishery throughout day and night. This enables DFO to verify DMP landings of capelin by verifying random weigh-outs and ensuring fish harvesters who are authorized to land capelin using an authorization number do so by estimating their catch as accurately as possible. Both overt and covert patrols will be used.

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, promote effective monitoring and enable C&P personnel to effectively maintain compliance with management measures governing the 4RST capelin 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 two-year 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 officials and industry representatives have an on-going dialogue on the fishery on a year-round basis. These informal discussions provide an opportunity to review the objectives and identify issues for discussion at the advisory meeting held every two years.

DFO Newfoundland and Labrador 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 the 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 identifies the specific strategies that are used to achieve fisheries management objectives.

Table 3: 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 occur, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function
  • Mandatory reporting of lost gear.
  • Prohibit the use of monofilament netting material.
  • Species at Risk Act
To promote the development of sustainable fishing practices
  • Minimum size possession limit
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
  • Accurate completion of logbooks
  • Reliable dockside monitoring program
  • Adequate level of at-sea observer coverage, both spatial and temporal
  • Adherence to electronic 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 IFMP and opportunities for additional access are addressed through the Allocation Transfer Program
To provide fish harvesters with increased opportunity to develop long-term business stability
  • Stable sharing arrangement
  • 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 (DFO) measures the performance of the fisheries that it manages through the Sustainability Survey for Fisheries (SFF). 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.

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

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


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

total weight of all individuals in a stock or a population

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.

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.
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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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.
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
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.
sexually mature individual
Spawning Stock:

sexually mature individuals in a 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
metric tonne, 1000kg or 2204.6 lbs

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

the verification by an observer of the weight of fish landed
Vessel Size:
length overall
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 online 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 4RST Capelin Advisory Committee
Name Organization
DFO Co-Chairs
Tony Blanchard DFO Newfoundland and Labrador
Denis Gros-Louis DFO Quebec
Marc Lecouffe DFO Gulf
Industry Representatives
Scott Anderson >65' mobile gear representative
Allan Sheppard fixed gear representative
Bill Barry Barry Group
Joe Barry Barry Group
Arthur Billett Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ)
Jason Spingle Fish, Food and Allied Workers (FFAW-Unifor)
Tom Dooley Newfoundland and Labrador Department of Fisheries and Land Resources
Willis Hickey <65' purse seine fleet representative
Ross Fequet Lower North Shore Fishermen's Association
Loomis Way fixed gear representative
Frank Flynn Labrador Fishermen's Union Shrimp Company
DFO Representatives
Antoine Rivierre DFO Quebec - Resource Management
Pierre Mallet DFO Gulf - Resource Management
Mario Gaudet DFO Gulf - Resource Management
Andrew Smith DFO Quebec - Science
Paul Glavine DFO Newfoundland and Labrador - Policy and Economics
John Lubar DFO Newfoundland and Labrador - Area Resource Management
Laurie Hawkins DFO Newfoundland and Labrador - Area Resource Management
Erin Dunne DFO Newfoundland and Labrador - Headquarter Resource Management
Brent Watkins DFO Newfoundland and Labrador - Conservation and Protection

Appendix 4: Map of NAFO Division 4RST


Appendix 5: Map of Capelin Fishing Areas

Nafo Areas

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:

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 (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.

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.

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 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.

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: Capelin Quota Reports for 2015-2017
NAFO Fleet Quota Area Quota 2015 Catch 2016 Catch 2017 Catch
4R Fixed Gear South of Cape St. Gregory 431 227 * *
Cape St. Gregory to Broom Point 431 * * *
Broom Point to Point Riche 598 * * *
Point Riche to Big Brook 1,934 * * *
Big Brook to Cape Bauld 1,055 2,307 1,226 *
Gulf Shore Labrador 959 * * *
Mobile Gear West Coast 4R3Pn <65' 3,453 3,142 * *
West Coast 4R3Pn >65' 3,453 * * *
4ST 4ST Capelin 1,985 * * *
Total 14,299  
* Note: 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. All calculations are in Metric Tonnes (MT).

Appendix 8: C&P Enforcement Data for 4RST Capelin

Number of fishery officer hours dedicated to 4RST capelin by DFO Newfoundland and Labrador region (2013-2017)
Year Fishery Officer Patrol Hours Non Patrol Hours Program Other Total Fishery Officer Hours Vessels Checked Persons Checked Gear Checks Sites Checked
2013 23 66 41 130 7 6 0 0
2014 71 234 17 322 21 14 1 18
2015 72 78 34 184 13 12 8 16
2016 89 655 139 882 19 18 9 14
2017 75 469 87 631 10 1 0 13
Five Year Average 66 300 63 429 14 10 4 12
Number of Newfoundland and Labrador region capelin occurrences (2013-2017)
Management Area 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
4R 2 5 5 18 2
Gulf region enforcement effort: 4RST capelin (2012-2017)
  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Mobile Gear Fixed Gear Mobile Gear Fixed Gear Mobile Gear Fixed Gear Mobile Gear Fixed Gear Mobile Gear Fixed Gear Mobile Gear Fixed Gear
Total Fishery Officer Hours 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Total Patrol Hours 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.5 0 0 0 0
Charges laid 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Warnings issued 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
Quebec region enforcement effort for: 4RST capelin : (2012-2017) *(Fixed gear only)
  2012 2013 2014 * 2015 2016 2017
Total Fishery Officer Hours 3.0 22.00 0 51.50 10.5  
Total Patrol Hours 5.0 28.00 0 51.50 10.5  
Charges Laid 0 0 0 0 0  
Warnings Issued 0 0 0 0 0  
* Note: There were no capelin in Quebec region area in 2014.
Appendix 9: Departmental contacts
Contact Telephone Fax Email
Regional Headquarters
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
Andrew Smith -
Biologist (Quebec region)
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
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 709-637-4445
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