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Greenland Halibut Integrated Fisheries Management Plan in NAFO Divisions 4RST


Greenland halibut
Greenland halibut
Photo: Claude Nozères

The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements of the Greenland Halibut fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the Quebec region, in the NAFO divisions 4RST and the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also provides background information and information related to management of this fishery to staff of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), co-management boards established by law under the regulations on territorial claims (if applicable) and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common interpretation of the fundamental "rules" that govern sustainable management of fisheries resources. This IFMP is an ever-green working document produced by DFO, in collaboration with industry, and will be updated periodically.

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 the implementing obligation under land claim agreements or from Supreme Court judgments in relation to aboriginal rights, 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.

Maryse Lemire, Regional Director
DFO, Quebec Region

Table of Contents

1. Overview of the fishery
2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge
3. Economic, social and cultural considerations
4. Management issues
5. Objectives
6. Access and allocation
7. Management measures
8. Shared stewardship arrangements
9. Compliance plan
10. Performance review
11. Glossary of terms
List of figures
  • C&P - Conservation and Protection Branch
  • CHP - Conservation Harvesting Plan
  • COSEWIC - Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada
  • CSAS - Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat
  • CSSP - Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program
  • DFO - Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • FRCC - Fisheries Resource Conservation Council
  • GGAC - Gulf Groundfish Advisory Committee
  • GHRMC - Greenland Halibut Regional Management Committee
  • IFMP - Integrated Fishery Management Plan
  • IQ - Individual Quota
  • ITQ - Individual Transferable Quota
  • NAFO - Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization
  • OPFGQ - Office des pêcheurs de flétan du Groenland du Québec
  • PA - Precautionary approach
  • QFPA - Quebec Fish Processors Association
  • TAC - Total Allowable Catch
  • TC - Transport Canada
  • VMS - Vessel Monitoring System

1. Overview of the fishery

This section of the Greenland Halibut Integrated Fisheries Management Plan provides an overall picture of the fishery. The history section presents the different development phases that the Greenland Halibut fishery has gone through. The overview of the fishery wraps up with a description of the current characteristics of the fishery, such as the types of fisheries, participants, location of the fishery and fishery governance.

1.1 History

The Greenland Halibut directed fishery in Area 4RST started fairly recently. It has been through several significant periods during its development.

1.1.1 Food fishery (before 1975)

The Greenland Halibut fishery was originally a food fishery that enabled fish harvesters in the St. Lawrence River Estuary to build up reserves of salt fish for the winter. This practice lasted until the mid-1970s.

Fishers involved in the Greenland Halibut food fishery were commercial harvesters of cod and Atlantic Halibut. Fishing operations were thus carried out by inshore harvesters using fishing gear primarily intended for cod fishing. The harvesters fished in the fall and tried to catch large individuals. They used 10 to 20 gillnets with a large mesh (from 152 to 178 mm) and longlines with large hooks. There were few harvesters and they all had their own fishing areas, which were often in front of their homes.

1.1.2 Development of a commercial fishery (1975-1980)

In the mid-1970s, a market developed for fresh Greenland Halibut when a processing plant located near the fishing areas became interested in Greenland Halibut. This period also saw a decline in the performance of the cod fishery, with the result that a number of inshore fishers searched for an alternative. Inshore cod fishers then focused their efforts on Greenland Halibut, whereas trawlers obtained new licences for Northern Shrimp. Greenland Halibut became more popular thanks to the fishery’s very good performance and the high landed prices.

Local harvesters in the St. Lawrence River Estuary, who were already fishing for Greenland Halibut for their own consumption, invested in order to remain competitive and continue fishing in their traditional fishing grounds. Some of them obtained larger vessels, but the fishery continued to operate inshore with a fishing fleet mainly consisting of vessels smaller than 13.71 m. With the growing demand for Greenland Halibut, harvesters extended their fishing season from the spring to the fall. They also gradually increased the amount of fishing gear they used from 10 to 20 gillnets at the beginning of the 1970s to 100 by the beginning of the 1980s. Harvesters went out every day and worked from morning to evening in order to lift some of their nets. However, they did not change the net mesh size and continued to use a mesh of 152 to 165 mm, while maintaining their catches of large Greenland Halibut.

The local harvesters were joined by longliners from the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, which redirected their fishing operations from cod to Greenland Halibut. These new harvesters therefore changed their focus and moved from their offshore cod fishing grounds to the Greenland Halibut fishing grounds in the St. Lawrence Estuary. In so doing, the longliners found themselves in the same grounds as the Estuary harvesters, which triggered competition for the fishing grounds. As the longliners were traditionally engaged in offshore fishing, they had larger vessels (approximately 18 m), which were very well equipped. These vessels could thus fish for several consecutive days.

The trawlers also increased their fishing effort during this period. The new shrimp harvesters were still in the exploratory period, familiarizing themselves with the main fishing grounds. However, the Greenland Halibut bycatch produced by trawlers remained insignificant compared to the total catch of fixed gear harvesters.

The increase in landings towards the end of the 1970s was mainly due to the increased fishing effort of the fixed gear fleet. As there were few management measures in place during this period, harvesters could increase their fishing effort to meet demand from new markets. Their catch rates declined in 1980. The size of fish caught also decreased so fishers used smaller mesh to try to maintain their catch rates.

1.1.3 Technological developments and transfer of fishery management (1981-1985)

A number of harvesters dropped out of the Greenland Halibut fishery in the years following the decline in stock at the beginning of the 1980s. Some refocused their fishing effort on other species whereas others simply gave up fishing. Those who continued fishing for Greenland Halibut learned to be much more efficient by adapting their fishing techniques to a sparse and less abundant resource.

In 1984, the federal government resumed responsibility for managing the fishery for various marine species, including Greenland Halibut, a responsibility that had been delegated to the Government of Quebec in 1922. In view of the precarious status of the Greenland Halibut fishery, several management measures were put in place to increase control over fishing operations and protect the resource. The main management measure adopted during this period was the establishment of a total allowable catch (TAC). However, the TAC was not based on an assessment of stock status and did not have the effect of limiting fishing at this time because it was too high or simply ignored. Scientific assessment of Greenland Halibut stock status was inaccurate in the 1980s because it was data deficient and some uncertainty existed about the status of the Gulf of St. Lawrence population in relation to the Atlantic stock.

The fishery became very competitive during this period. Fishery management through a TAC encouraged harvesters to intensify their fishing operations because they had to catch as much Greenland Halibut as possible before reaching the TAC. They adapted to the new situation and invested in new larger and more powerful vessels. As the new vessels had a greater range, new fishing grounds were discovered.

From 1981 to 1985, landings remained poor. The longliners from the Gaspé abandoned Greenland Halibut and returned to cod fishing, which seemed to offer better prospects than Greenland Halibut. Harvesters who remained in the fishery continued to improve their technique. Finally, fleet shares were established for fixed and mobile gear fleets to control access to the fishery.

1.1.4 Landings peak (1986-1989)

Greenland Halibut harvesters showed incredible imagination to catch enough fish and remain in the fishery until 1986, when landings suddenly increased dramatically to reach an unequalled peak in 1987.

The increased catch rate in 1986 was basically due to recruitment of fish in the 1979 and 1980 age classes. Fishers who had abandoned Greenland Halibut at the beginning of the 1980s returned to the fishery. The increase in landings was not limited to fixed gear fleets because landings by mobile gear fleets also increased considerably. Shrimp vessels were then authorized to keep their groundfish bycatch and also received allocations of cod and redfish. It was mainly between 1986 and 1988 that both shrimp vessels and groundfish harvesters were engaged in a directed fishery for Greenland Halibut using mobile gear.

During this period, the fish processing plants were paying high prices for Greenland Halibut and, as catch rates were also high, the species became very attractive to fishers. There are some indications that landings in this period were much higher than the reported figures because they were not all recorded by harvesters.

During this period, Greenland Halibut was very abundant, enabling fishers to achieve very good landings without the need to adopt a sophisticated fishing strategy. All they needed to do to increase their catch was to increase their fishing effort. After 1988, fish harvesters noticed a decrease in their catch rates and landings.

1.1.5 Implementation of the fisheries management framework (1990-1997)

By the beginning of the 1990s, there had been a marked drop in the abundance of a number of groundfish species in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Abundance of cod and redfish decreased rapidly until a moratorium on the directed commercial fishery was put in place for cod at the end of 1992 and for redfish in 1995. At the same time, there was a shared commitment to ensure that all catches were recorded, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada aimed to modernize the management of several stocks. Fishery management regimes were therefore developed involving individual quotas, TACs were established for most fisheries, and dockside monitoring of all landings became mandatory in designated ports for all groundfish, shrimp and snow crab.

Abundance of Greenland Halibut also declined at the beginning of the 1990s. Catch rates decreased substantially at the end of the 1980s and were still poor at the beginning of the 1990s. Even though landings and abundance decreased five-fold between 1987 and 1990, the TAC was not changed until 1993. At that time, a study was published recognizing the existence of a specific stock of Greenland Halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, justifying management measures specifically adapted to this stock. The TAC was henceforth based on stock status in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

A series of management measures was adopted to conserve Greenland Halibut stock in the Gulf. Trawler bycatches dropped sharply because of a moratorium on the directed fishery for cod and redfish. Furthermore, shrimp harvesters equipped their trawls with Nordmore separator grates to greatly decrease the fish bycatch. Since 1994, the mobile gear directed fishery for Greenland Halibut has been prohibited.

In 1993, the Greenland Halibut TAC was decreased drastically, from 10,500 to 4,000 tonnes. In view of the precarious status of the Greenland Halibut stock, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council recommended major conservation measures in 1994 to significantly decrease fishing effort for Greenland Halibut and reduce the proportion of immature fish caught. Since 1995, numerous conservation measures and limits on fishing effort have been put in place, specifically, an increase in minimum net mesh size from 140 mm to 152 mm, a minimum fish size of 42 cm in 1995 and then 44 cm in 1997, a protocol to decrease the catch of small fish and a gradual reduction in the number of nets used.

1.1.6 Access stabilized and fishery management regimes (1998-2003)

From the end of the 1990s, the Quebec fishing industry became increasingly actively involved in ensuring stable access to the fishery for the fixed gear fleet and a planned process for Greenland Halibut fishing operations in order to increase the profitability of this fishery. Several steps were taken concurrently.

To start with, the industry stressed the need for regional shares for fixed gear fleets in the Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador regions to be permanent. After a long and laborious consultation and collaboration process, which even called upon a group of independent experts, the variable and temporary shares in effect since the mid-1990s were replaced under a 2001 departmental decision confirming the introduction of stable shares for the fixed gear fleet in the Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador regions.

At the same time as aiming to stabilize access, the Quebec fixed gear fleet, which depended on the Greenland Halibut fishery, intensified steps to develop a fishing regime with individual transferable quotas (ITQs). The criteria developed for participation in such a program were thus used to more accurately identify a group of eligible harvesters and to hold discussions between eligible and ineligible groups in order to agree on how to share the Quebec fleet’s allocation of Greenland Halibut. This stage terminated in 1999, when a sharing agreement was reached, dividing up the Quebec quota for the fixed gear fleet among three groups of harvesters: those eligible for the ITQ regime, Lower North Shore harvesters under a competitive regime and Other than Lower North Shore harvesters under a competitive regime. This stage paved the way for the development of the actual ITQ program. After the pilot project phases of the individual quotas (IQ) program (1999-2001) and after the IQ program become permanent (2002-2003), the Department confirmed, at the end of the 2003-2004 fishing season, the introduction of the Individual Transferable Quota Program for the Greenland Halibut – fixed gear vessels under 19.81 m – Quebec Region.

This stabilization of access to the fixed gear fleet fishery and fishery management regimes for Greenland Halibut were especially important because the industry was facing a marked drop in fishery performance at the beginning of the 2000s as a result of the recruitment low at the beginning of the 1990s. This stabilization made fishing operations more predictable, depending on the increase in abundance and fishery performance after 2003.

As for the mobile gear fleet, no consensus was reached on its recurrent requests from the end of the 1990s for access to the directed Greenland Halibut fishery, and the fleet’s objective was not achieved.

1.1.7 Stability of the fishery (2004-2016)

The Greenland Halibut recruitment low in the first half of the 1990s was followed for a few years by alternating strong and weak or average age classes. Thanks to the regular contribution to the fishery of strong age classes, especially after 2004, the TAC could be maintained and removals continued to be moderately high compared to the historical benchmark. This stable TAC (4 500 t) helped to regularize fishing operations, as well as Greenland Halibut processing. Furthermore, during this period the landed price was maintained except for an increase in 2011.

Fishery management was also stable so that few changes have been made to the Conservation Harvesting Plan since 2004. These changes included the introduction of quota reconciliation in 2010 and the mandatory use of a Vessel Monitoring System by most of the fleet between 2010 and 2017. Moreover, the fishery management regimes were changed in 2012: the Lower North Shore fishery fleet was placed under an ITQ regime, whereas the quota for the Other than Lower North Shore fleet, under competitive regime, is now split among three groups of harvesters, one on the Upper and Middle North Shore and two others in the Gaspé Peninsula, one for the fleet under 13.71 m and one for the fleet equal to or greater than 13.71 m. In 2013, a new ITQ program was developed for the "Others" group of more than 13.71m.

Furthermore, in keeping with one of the objectives of the ITQ program, its permanent nature encourages the self-rationalization of the Quebec Greenland Halibut fishing fleet. Between 2004 and 2016, there has therefore been a significant decrease (35%) in the number of first Program participants, and an equivalent number of groundfish fishing licences for fixed gear harvesters have not been reissued or reassigned. This rationalization has strengthen the ITQ regime fishing fleet and helped it to achieve profitability.

While this rationalization is taking place, members of the Greenland Halibut Regional Management Committee (Quebec Region) are continuing to devote themselves to the management of the fishery for this species in order to achieve the objectives of resource conservation and fishery profitability. They have put together the steps towards these objectives in the form of a work plan.

On July 12, 2013, the Department announced that the mobile gear fleet reinstatement in the 4RST Greenland Halibut fishery will be done on an incremental basis, determined by increases in the TAC above 4,500t.

1.1.8 Outlook for this stock since 2017

The most recent assessment of this stock, in winter 2018, concluded that the short-term outlook is worrisome, given ecosystem changes, low recruitment, reduced growth rates for cohorts in recent years, decreases in abundance and biomass indices for fish over 40 cm, and consequently the fishery's lower performance indicator.

1.1.9 History of First Nations in the fishery

DFO's development of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy took off in the wake of the Sparrow decision in the early 1990s, when subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, which recognizes and affirms the ancestral and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including the right to fish, was studied in greater detail. An initial Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) was implemented in 1992, and its objectives included governing the Aboriginal food, social and ceremonial fishery and providing Indigenous peoples with the opportunity to participate in fisheries management. In 1994 this strategy was improved following the implementation of the allocation transfer program, which facilitated First Nations' entry into the commercial fishery without increasing pressure on stocks. Commercial fishers could, subject to compensation, voluntarily surrender their permit to DFO, which would redistribute them to First Nations groups through communal licences.

On September 17, 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down the Marshall decision, which affirmed, to Micmacs and Meliseet First Nations, the aboriginal right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood,” stemming from Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761. This decision affected the 34 Micmacs and Maliseet First Nations in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Quebec (Gaspé). The Supreme Court made a clarification on November 17, 1999, stating that this right had its limits and that this fishery could be regulated.

In response, in January 2000, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) launched the Marshall Response Initiative to negotiate interim fisheries agreements, giving First Nations increased and immediate access to the commercial fishery. This initiative was largely inspired by the AFS. This initiative was strongly inspired by the AFS.

The Marshall Response Initiative's objectives are:

As of 2000, DFO began voluntarily retiring groundfish licences (Greenland halibut), subject to compensation,  to assign them to Indigenous communities. Although there are 55 Indigenous communities in Quebec, only eleven of them are coastal. These eleven communities have obtained groundfish licences through funding programs.

1.2 Type of fishery

The Greenland Halibut fishery is basically a commercial fishery. The catch comes from the directed fishery for Greenland Halibut or for other species, mainly groundfish, in which case the Greenland Halibut catch is a bycatch.

Directed fishing for Greenland Halibut is carried out by the fixed gear fleet, using gillnets and, to a lesser extent, longlines. The bycatch is produced by fixed gear fishing operations, especially using longlines and gillnets, and also by mobile gear operations, mainly using bottom trawls, seine nets and shrimp trawls.

The seven Indigenous communities from the North Shore are authorized to fish for Greenland Halibut for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Quantities allocated for these purposes are limited. However, since these allocations cannot be sold or bartered, the fishing volumes are not very significant.

Furthermore, Greenland Halibut may be caught under the recreational groundfish fishery in both the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and during the Saguenay ice fishery. In each case catches are marginal.

1.3 Participants

In keeping with departmental decisions in the last three decades, only fixed gear groundfish fishing fleets from the Gaspé Peninsula and the Quebec North Shore, as well as from the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, participate in the directed commercial fishery for Greenland Halibut.

On average, between 2004 and 2015, 155 fishers from the Quebec Region participated in the Greenland halibut directed fishery on an annual basis, specifically, 79 fishers from the ITQ fleet, 50 from the Lower North Shore fleet and 26 from the Other Than Lower North Shore competitive fleet. In 2015, following various fleet rationalization exercises, about 100 fishing enterprises remained active in the Greenland halibut fishery: 80 under the ITQ regime (including about 15 in the Lower North Shore) and about 20 under the competitive regime. These enterprises included 8 Indigenous communities: 7 active in the fishery under IQs and 2 under the competitive regime. As mentioned in Section 1.1.8, the Lower North Shore fixed gear fleet changed over to an ITQ fishing regime in 2012 and the Other Than Lower North Shore competitive fleet was divided into three harvester groups that same year. Table 1, in Section 0, summarizes the number of enterprises active in the fixed gear Greenland halibut directed fishery from 2008 to 2017.

1.4 Location of the fishery

Figure 1 shows the NAFO divisions in the groundfish fishery. The directed fishery for Greenland Halibut operates at a depth of 180 m to 360 m on the edges, in decreasing order of importance, of the Laurentian Channel in the western part of the Gulf and the Esquiman and Anticosti Channels in the northern part of the Gulf (figure 2).

Map of Quebec and Gulf region NAFO divisions for groundfish
Figure 1: Groundfish sub-areas in 2017 in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.
For details, refer to the preceding paragraph
Figure 2: Distribution of directed fishing effort for Greenland Halibut, total number of nets lifted per fishing grid from 2005 to 2017.

1.5 Fishery characteristics

The Greenland Halibut fishery is managed through a TAC. The TAC is based on the most recent scientific assessment of stock status. Two fishery regimes share the TAC under directed fishery: the individual transferable quota fishery and the competitive fishery. For further information about the shares, please refer to Section 6.

Moreover, conservation, management and monitoring measures provide a framework for fishing operations. Conservation measures include area closures, restrictions on fishing times, fishing gear characteristics (mesh and hook size), fleet quotas and a minimum size for the various species of groundfish. As for the management measures, they basically aim to adapt fishing effort to available quotas. They include, but are not limited to, the establishment of individual transferable quotas, limits on the type of fishing gear (gillnets and longlines) and the amount of fishing gear, fishery duration, the number of harvesters and/or individual catches, combining of licences and vessel rental. Finally, fishery monitoring measures combine protocols for the bycatch and small fish, the At-Sea Observer and Dockside Monitoring Programs, the keeping of logbooks and the mandatory use of a Vessel Tracking System.

1.6 Governance

The fishing activities are subject to the Fisheries Act and its regulations, more specifically the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985 and the Fishery (General) Regulations. Since 2002, the Species at Risk Act has stated rules for endangered and threatened species.

1.6.1 Interregional level

Held every 2 years, the Gulf Groundfish Advisory Committee (GGAC) brings together representatives from groundfish fishermen’s organizations, including those fishing for Greenland Halibut, processing company associations, First Nations, provincial governments and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The Department helps the Committee by providing contacts (resource managers, economists, biologists, fishery officers and so forth). The Committee’s activities are coordinated by the Gulf Region Fisheries Management Branch, together with Department administrative regions that are involved in the management of the Gulf groundfish fishery, namely, the Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador and Maritimes regions. The Committee advises the Minister on groundfish conservation measures and fishery management issues of an interregional scope.

1.6.2 Regional level

More specifically, management of the Greenland Halibut fishery has been based on regional fleet shares since the mid-1990s. Fixed gear fishing fleets in the Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador regions have access to the directed fishery. These two regions have established collaborative mechanisms for regional stakeholders to identify, analyze and recommend solutions to regional operational issues.

As for the Quebec Region, it has established in 1999 the Greenland Halibut Regional Management Committee (GHRMC). This collaborative forum, the composition of which reflects the interests of the various Quebec fleets fishing for Greenland Halibut, was born of the determination of the industry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Quebec Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation to partner together to establish an effective fishery management structure for this species.

1.7 Approval Process

1.7.1 Interregional level

The Gulf of St. Lawrence Groundfish Management Plan, with its TACs for various species – including Greenland Halibut – and its management measures for several administrative regions, is approved by the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. During the decision-making process, the Minister receives various recommendations, including recommendations from the GGAC. The Committee holds meeting every two years, generally in March after the scientific assessment of the status of Gulf groundfish stocks.

Fisheries management in the Quebec Region, in collaboration with the Newfoundland and Labrador Region produce Briefing notes to the Minister to enable decisions to be made regarding the various groundfish fishery issues. Among other information, these Briefing notes to the Minister include the Committee’s positions and recommendations and other sources of information that may also be taken into account in the decision-making process, specifically, reports produced by the Department, for example, the Science Advisory Reports concerning stock status, or by specialized firms mandated by the Department. Moreover, these Briefing notes to the Minister include a departmental analysis supporting recommendations to the Minister. Departmental decisions are generally announced before the groundfish fishery opens.

1.7.2 Regional level

Discussions with the industry about the regional management of the Greenland Halibut fishery generally take place at the end of the fall and during the winter. In Quebec, these discussions are held as part of the Greenland Halibut Regional Management Committee’s activities. They generally aim to resolve regional fishery management issues, especially fishery sustainability, fleet viability and adaptation of the fishery management regimes as well as, to a lesser degree, to agree on positions or recommendations regarding interregional issues discussed at the GGAC.

The Committee chair forwards the Committee’s recommendations for regional management of the Greenland Halibut fishery to the Quebec Regional Director, Fisheries Management. If necessary, the Director mandates his or her team to produce the required supplementary analyses. The Regional Fisheries Management Branch announces the Department’s decisions directly to Committee members and through the Notices to Fish harvesters before the opening of the Greenland Halibut fishery. The Notices to Fish harvesters are available on DFO’s website.

Moreover, fleets with access to the directed fishery for Greenland Halibut must submit proposed amendments, following analysis of these, adjustments may be made to the Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) to the Department. This contains a set of conservation, fishery management and fishery monitoring measures with a view to ensuring the sustainability of the stock and the fishery.

2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

2.1 Biological Synopsis

The Greenland Halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) belongs to the Pleuronectidae family. It is also known as Greenland Flounder and turbot. However, this flatfish looks more like an Atlantic Halibut than a European turbot. Like other flatfish, the Greenland Halibut undergoes considerable physiological changes during its lifetime. At birth, this fish moves around like other fish but, shortly afterwards, it lies on one of its wings to swim. The eye on the lower part of its face then gradually migrates upwards and its skull twists.

Like other flatfish, the Greenland halibut has an asymmetrical compressed diamond-shaped body. The upper surface (where the eyes are located) is blackish, dark brown or grey with paler markings, whereas the underside (blind side) is generally pale grey. Its main distinguishing features are a straight lateral line and a straight caudal fin (Figure 3). In contrast, the Atlantic halibut has a concave caudal fin, and the American Plaice has a convex caudal fin. The Greenland halibut can also be distinguished by its larger mouth and teeth.

For details, refer to the preceding text.
Figure 3: Greenland Halibut (Source: DFO – Claude Nozères).

The Greenland halibut has a vast range, with a nearly circumpolar distribution (Figure 4). The species occurs mainly in the North Atlantic and the North Pacific. In the Pacific Ocean, it ranges from north of Japan to the Chukchi Sea and south to British Colombia and Baja California, where a few individuals occur. In the Northeast Atlantic, it is found from north of Norway to southwest of Ireland and around Iceland and Greenland. In the Northwest Atlantic, it occurs south of the Arctic, along the east coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, on the Grand Banks, in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as far as the Saguenay Fjord, and south to the Gulf of Maine.

For details, refer to the preceding text
Figure 4: Range of the Greenland halibut.

Greenland halibut are generally associated with fine and consolidated sediments in channels and are found at depths of up to 2000 m and at temperatures from -0.5 to 7°C. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, these fish occur in channels at depths of more than 130 metres, and more commonly at depths of 200 to 375 metres and bottom temperatures of 4 to 5.8°C. Figure 5 shows the distribution of Greenland halibut catch rates derived from DFO surveys conducted in the northern Gulf of St Lawrence every August from 1990 to 2017.

For details, refer to the preceding text
Figure 5: Distribution of Greenland halibut catch rates (kg/15-minute tow) in the DFO survey for periods of four or five years (Bourdages et al. 2018).

The Greenland Halibut population in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is considered to be a stock isolated from the main population in the Northwest Atlantic, which is found to the east and north of Newfoundland’s Grand Banks. At the beginning of the 1990s, parasite studies showed that the Gulf population was a separate one. All Greenland Halibut from the Gulf, the Laurentian Channel and its surroundings have been clearly separated from those of Labrador and the area north of the Grand Banks. This has led to the conclusion that Greenland Halibut complete their entire life cycle in the Gulf.

Current knowledge of the species indicates that spawning occurs in winter between January and March in the deep waters of the Laurentian Channel southwest of Newfoundland and Labrador. Given their specific density, the eggs appear to be mesopelagic. Throughout most of their development, the eggs are found at depths of approximately 300 m; however, owing to a significant change in specific density in the last few days of development, the eggs appear to hatch in shallower water. After their yolk sac is absorbed, pelagic larvae are mainly found at depths of 0 to 50 m. Larval development occurs in that surface layer and can take up to four months. The larvae then settle to the bottom, where metamorphosis occurs. The main nursery is located in the Estuary and a secondary nursery is located north of Anticosti. Juveniles are predominant in both areas and typically occur at shallower depths than adults.

The Greenland halibut produces large eggs and is characterized by low fecundity. These fish spawn only once a year, and some studies have reported that not all individuals spawn every year.

The Greenland Halibut is characterized by sexual dimorphism due to the slowdown in its growth when it reaches sexual maturity. The males are smaller than the females when they reach sexual maturity. Size of males at 50% maturity is 36 cm, compared to 45 cm for females, so the male growth rate decreases more quickly. Males rarely exceed 50 cm, whereas females can grow to more than 70 cm. This biological peculiarity explains the larger proportion of females caught in the commercial fishery; the fishing gear used targets fish larger than 44 cm.

The Greenland halibut, considered a strong swimmer, spends less time on the bottom than other flatfish species. These fish undertakes significant daily vertical migrations and spend about 25% of their time in the water column.

2.2 Ecosystem interactions

2.2.1 Ecology of the Greenland Halibut

An ecosystem model is consistently applied to the Estuary and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence to obtain a general description of the functioning of this ecosystem, the trophic interactions and the relative impacts of predation and the fishery on the main vertebrate and invertebrate communities at different time periods.

Shrimp, especially Northern Shrimp (Pandalus borealis), capelin (Mallotus villosus), small demersal fish (for example, Atlantic Soft Pout Melanostigma atlanticum), and euphausiids and mysids (macrozooplankton) were the main prey of small Greenland Halibut (< 40 cm) between 2006 and 2010. From the mid-1980s until now, there has been a decrease in the proportion of pelagic fish in their diet, offset by an increase in the proportion of shrimp. Small Greenland Halibut are very dependent on shrimp (54%). Given their abundance, small Greenland Halibut were one of the four main predators of the ecosystem’s fish, the first, in order of importance, being the Harp Seal, large Greenland Halibut (≥ 40 cm) and large Atlantic Cod (≥ 35 cm).

The main predators of small Greenland Halibut are the Harp Seal (Pagophilus groenlandica), the Hooded Seal (Cystophora cristata), the Atlantic Halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) and the Grey Seal (Halichoerus grypus). The predators of small Greenland Halibut have not changed much over time. Seals are their main predators, with demersal fish (Atlantic Halibut, Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua), American Plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides), large Greenland Halibut [cannibalism]) having a smaller impact.

Between 2006 and 2010, large Greenland Halibut mainly ate shrimp (especially Northern Shrimp), herring (Clupea harengus),small demersal fish such as Fourbeard Rockling (Enchelyopus cimbrius) or Atlantic Soft Pout, redfish (Sebastes sp) and capelin. The main prey of large Greenland Halibut have not changed much over time, only their order of importance has changed. Large Greenland Halibut are moderately dependent on shrimp and herring. They were the second largest predator of the ecosystem’s fish between 2006 and 2010.

Large Greenland Halibut had only four predators among the groups studied: the Harp Seal, Hooded Seal, Atlantic Halibut and Grey Seal. These were also the main predators of small Greenland Halibut. Seals were always the main predators of large Greenland Halibut during the other periods studied.

2.2.2 Impact of fishery activities


The ecological impacts of fishing on seabed habitat vary according to the type of fishing gear used. Based on an impact severity scale, an assessment of the ecological impacts of different gear types on the seabed found that higher the percentage, the higher the risk of ecological impact, the trawl net and gillnet scored 98% and 78% respectively. Although bottom trawl use is currently prohibited in the Greenland halibut directed fishery, the mobile gear fleet will gradually be reinstated in the Greenland halibut fishery in the Gulf based on TAC increases beyond 4,500 tonnes.

In general, Greenland halibut fishing takes place in the deep waters of the Esquiman and Anticosti channels, and along both slopes of the Laurentian Channel right into the Estuary. The habitat impacts of the fishery may vary with the nature of the seabed where the fishing takes place. For example, ecosystems with coral beds and sponge reefs are sensitive to fishing using bottom-set gillnets and trawls since these organisms are sessile and have low growth rates. In 2017, cold-water corals and sponges were protected by closing 11 areas to certain fisheries, including the Greenland halibut fishery, which resulted in a reduction in the zone where Greenland halibut can be fished (for more information, see Section 7.5). The footprint of the Greenland halibut directed gillnet fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence habitat was mapped using Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data (Figure 6), and it was determined that less than 1% of Greenland halibut fishing activities occurred in sponge and corral conservation areas before the 2017 fishery closure.

For details, refer to the text that follows
Figure 6: Mapping of fishing effort in the directed gillnet fishery for Greenland halibut, from 2012 to 2017. This information is taken from the VMS database. The red polygons delineate the 11 Coral and Sponge Conservation Areas The 11 coral and sponge conservation areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. To encourage conservation, the use of all bottom-contact fishing gear is prohibited in these areas, including, but not limited to, bottom trawls, dredges, gillnets, bottom longlines, bottom seines and traps. The use of this gear is known to pose a risk to important benthic communities, especially corals and sponges in eastern Canada.

Fishing activities also have an impact on the incidental capture of non-target marine species. Species at risk that have been granted status by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), including American plaice (threatened), certain skate species, and species listed under the Species at Risk Act (wolffish), may be part of the fishery's by-catch. The at-sea observers database provides important information on the bycatch (both retained and discarded). Between 2000 and 2017, the bycatch in the Greenland halibut gillnet fishery was estimated at nearly 400 tonnes annually; this amount represents, on average, 15% of landings of Greenland halibut catch. The most common bycatch, in order of importance, consists of American plaice, snow crab, redfish, northern stone crab, thorny skate, Atlantic halibut and witch flounder. Nearly one third of the bycatch is landed, the rest being discarded at sea. Discards include species that the fisher can release such as spiny dogfish, large sea hens, myxins and Atlantic wolffish; mandatory release species such as Atlantic halibut under 85 cm and skates; and non-commercial species such as starfish, skate eggs, polychaetes, etc. Unaccounted bycatches could also result from ghost fishing, which occurs when fishing gear is lost at sea.

2.2.3 Impact of changing climatic patterns

The Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystem has undergone significant changes in recent decades. The water temperature in deeper parts of the Gulf is increasing and oxygen levels are declining. The deep water zones receive inputs of water from outside the Gulf, which consist of a mixture of Labrador Current waters (cold, less saline and well oxygenated) and Gulf Stream waters (warm, saline and not as well oxygenated). This mixture of water enters through the Laurentian Channel and flows as far as the head of the Esquiman, Anticosti and Laurentian channels. It takes about three to four years for this water to flow from Cabot Strait to the head of the Laurentian Channel. In recent decades, water from the Gulf Stream has made up a greater proportion of the mix, resulting in higher temperatures and oxygen depletion in the deep waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Water temperatures at all depths have increased throughout the Gulf. Temperatures at depths of 150 m, 200 m and 250 m remained above normal in 2017. A new record high of 6.3 °C was recorded at a depth of 300 m. Water temperatures above 6 °C now cover a larger expanse of the seabed in the central and northwestern parts of the Gulf, but temperatures in the Anticosti and Esquiman channels have decreased. Nonetheless, water temperatures remain high in both locations.

As these deep waters flow between the mouth and head of the Laurentian Channel, dissolved oxygen levels decrease as a result of in situ respiration and oxidation of organic matter. The last three years have seen the lowest oxygen concentrations in the St. Lawrence Estuary in the past 90 years. Saturation levels are below 18%, which is well below 30% saturation, which is considered the hypoxia level.

Recent studies have shown that the increase in deep-water temperatures and decline in oxygen could result in a loss of habitat for Greenland halibut and could partly explain the reduced growth rates observed in recent years. According to predictions, deep-water temperatures in the Gulf of St. Lawrence will remain high in the coming years. These conditions are unfavourable for the Greenland halibut, a cold-water species.

In the 1980s, groundfish dominated the ecosystem in the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. In the early 1990s, that ecosystem saw the collapse of its main groundfish stocks,  including Atlantic cod and redfish. The decreased abundance of large predators led to an increase in populations of forage species, including the various shrimp species. Greenland halibut biomass increased as did  the biomass of northern shrimp at a time when populations of large groundfish species were declining. Over the past few years, a decrease has in the various shrimp species been observed, with the same trend noted  recently for Greenland halibut; this has coincided with an increase in the biomass of groundfish species largely marked by a large influx of redfish in the northern Gulf of St Lawrence.

The arrival of three very strong cohorts of redfish (2011–2013) increased interspecies competition with the Greenland halibut, which occupies a similar ecological niche. These species’ diets are made up of common prey, like northern shrimp. Redfish abundance is at the highest level ever recorded in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. This species has a long lifespan and will compete with the Greenland halibut over the short run and the long run. Overall, ecosystem signals observed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence indicate that the ecosystem's structure is changing; this could create favourable conditions for some species (like redfish), but adverse conditions for other species (like northern shrimp and Greenland halibut).

2.3. Stock assessment

The Greenland halibut stock of the Gulf of St. Lawrence is currently assessed and managed on a two-year cycle. The assessment of this stock is based mainly on an analysis of data drawn from both the commercial fishery and research surveys. The commercial fishery data come from three sources: purchase slips, fishers' daily logbooks and sampling of commercial catches. Commercial fishery statistics (catch and effort) are used to estimate fishing effort and calculate catch rates. These data are also used to map the fishing effort and catches in the Gulf. Commercial catch sampling is conducted through the DFO sampling program and the At-Sea Observer Program. DFO samplers deployed throughout the area carry out work that includes collecting data on the size and sex of landed fish. The At-Sea Observer Program collects detailed information on at-sea fishing activities, including target species and bycatch data. The information collected under these two programs is used to determine the mean size and sex ratio of the landed fish on an annual basis.

Two annual research surveys, one carried out by DFO and the other by the sentinel fishery program, provide commercial fishery-independent data on the distribution, abundance, biomass, and biological characteristics of Greenland halibut. The DFO survey provides additional information on the size at which 50% of the fish are mature and their condition. Both surveys are conducted with bottom trawls using a stratified random sampling design covering the northern Gulf of St Lawrence. The DFO survey has been conducted every August since 1990, on a Coast Guard vessel. Commercial trawlers have conducted the mobile gear sentinel fishery  survey every July since 1995 based on a protocol established by DFO Science.

A relative index of the annual exploitation rate is obtained by dividing the commercial catches in weight by the biomass of fish over 40 cm estimated in the research survey.

In the years between assessments, key resource indicators are updated to provide Fisheries Management with an overview of the most recent stock status. The indicators used  are landings and abundance indices from the DFO survey. A reassessment may be triggered by a decrease of more than 30% in the biomass index of fish larger than 40 cm in the DFO survey, when this biomass places the stock in the cautious zone or the critical zone defined by the precautionary approach(PA). In the fall of 2017, the stock status update showed that a trigger was present warranting a full assessment. An unscheduled assessment was therefore conducted in the winter of 2018.

Information on the Greenland halibut stock status in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is discussed at the regional peer review process and the conclusions are presented at the Groundfish Advisory Committee meeting.

Greenland halibut scientific assessments are published in the Science Advisory Report series and updates in the Science Response series. These documents can be found on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) website by entering “Search: CSAS publications” in the search engine.

2.4. Precautionary approach

As a signatory of the United Nations Fish Stock Agreement (UNFA) relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, Canada has committed to using the precautionary approach in managing its stocks. In 2009, DFO released a policy document entitled "A Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach," which details how the precautionary approach should be applied.

A precautionary approach (PA) is being developed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence Greenland halibut stock. This PA must include the following elements: 1) reference points linked to a stock status indicator; 2) objectives for desirable resource and fishery outcomes; and, 3) a resource exploitation strategy to adapt harvesting  to the condition of the resource in a manner that avoids undesirable outcomes.

The stock status indicator and the limit reference point were defined during the peer review in the winter of 2017. The biomass of fish larger than 40 cm estimated during the DFO summer survey was chosen as an indicator for monitoring stock status. This index corresponds to the longest available time series (1990 to 2017) and is an approximation of the spawning stock biomass. From 1990 to 2017, the stock experienced significant variations in productivity and biomass, which were taken into account in establishing reference points (Figure 7).

The selected limit reference point (LRP) corresponds to the geometric mean for the period 1990 to 1994, which is the lowest population level at which recovery of the stock was observed. This LRP is assessed at 10,056 t (Figure 7).

During the winter 2018 peer review, the Science Sector proposed an upper stock reference (USR). This USR represents 80% of biomass at maximum sustainable yield (Bmsy). The approximate value proposed for Bmsy is the geometric mean of the indicator for the 2004–2012 productive period, namely 63,211 tonnes. That puts the USR at 50,569 tonnes. According to this USR, the Gulf of St. Lawrence Greenland halibut stock had been in the cautious zone for two years. DFO Fisheries Management, supported by the Science Sector, will hold consultations with the fishing industry and other interest groups in order to adopt a USR. Decision-making rules for adjusting catches should also be determined during these consultations.

For details, refer to the preceding text
Figure 7: Annual biomass indicator for Greenland halibut larger than 40 cm, from the DFO survey.

2.5. Stock scenarios

Overall, the biomass of the stock increased significantly from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s. That period was characterized by the production of very abundant year-classes allowing the stock to increase and remain at a relatively high level. In the recent period, the various indicators show a decrease in the biomass. This decrease may be attributable to ecosystem changes, including increasing bottom water temperature, decreasing dissolved oxygen concentration and the significant influx of new redfish cohorts. These ecosystem changes should continue in the coming years. A decrease in recruitment and in the growth rate of recent cohorts of Greenland halibut was also noted, which may be due to the recent ecosystem changes. Although the absence of a population dynamics model for this stock is an impediment to projections, the current conditions are worrisome.

2.6. Research plan

In addition to regular monitoring of the resource through at-sea sampling, dockside monitoring and fishery-independent research surveys, several Greenland halibut research projects have been carried out or are under way at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute. The Science Branch produces and presents an annual update to the Greenland Halibut Regional Management Committee.

These research in progress covering the period 2017 to 2020 is as follows:

3. Economic, social and cultural considerations

3.1. World landings

World landings of Greenland Halibut totalled 144,488 tonnes in 2016. It is one of the main flatfish species landed worldwide after the Yellowfin Sole (131,206 t) and ahead of the European Plaice (116,699 t) (Figure 8).

For details, refer to the preceding text
Figure 8: World landings of flatfish, 2016 (Source: FAO, 2016).

Between 2003 and 2016, world landings of Greenland halibut increased from 127,800 to 144,488 tonnes (13.1%) (Figure 9). Some countries posted larger variations in landings than other countries. For instance, Russia posted a 188% increase in its landings, which went from 9,100 tonnes to 26,200 tonnes between 2003 and 2016; it has outperformed Canada since 2014. During the same period, Spain and Iceland saw their landings decrease significantly: from 15,400 to 4,200 tonnes (72% decrease) for Spain and from 20,400 to 12,700 tonnes (38% decrease) for Iceland.

Canada ranked second in 2016 for the size of its Greenland halibut landings (23,500 tonnes, or 16.2%), behind Greenland (42,300 tonnes, or 29.3%) and Russia (26,200 tonnes, or 12.5%), but ahead of Norway (16,800 tonnes, or 11.6%). Significant quantities of Greenland halibut were also landed in Germany, Spain and the United States.

For details, refer to the preceding text.
Figure 9: World landings of Greenland halibut, 2003 to 2016, in thousands of tonnes (Source : FAO).
For details, refer to the text that follows
Figure 10: Canadian landings of Greenland halibut, by region, 2001 to 2017,in thousands of tonnes (Source: DFO, report on quotas).

3.2. Canadian catches

As figure 10 shows, Canadian landings of Greenland halibut increased significantly (+66.7%), from 13,500 tonnes to 23,900 tonnes between 2001 and 2010. This increase is attributable to the catches made in the Canadian Arctic (Nunavut), which began in 2000 at 1,400 tonnes and reached 9,500 tonnes in 2010—a 579% increase. Canadian landings outside of Nunavut were stable, increasing by only 7.5% between 2001 and 2010. Since 2010, the non-Nunavut landings have been declining while the Nunavut catches have continued to grow, albeit at a much slower rate. Total Canadian landings fell from 23,900 tonnes in 2010 to 23,100 tonnes in 2017, a decrease of 3%.

Nunavut ranks first for its catches, accounting for 50.6% of total Canadian landings in 2017 (11,700 tonnes). The Newfoundland and Labrador region comes in second, with 9,900 tonnes (42.8% of the Canadian total), and Quebec ranks a distant third, with landings of 1,500 tonnes in 2017 (6.5% of the Canadian total).

The value of landings rose from $13.3 million to $144.8 million between 2001 and 2015, an increase of 989%. This increase is partly attributable to the increase in the volume of fish landed but is mainly due to the increase in the average landed price. During this same period, the average landed price increased by 486%, from $0.99/kg to $5.75/ kg. Over the last two years, 2016 and 2017, both landed quantity and price declined (-8.3% and -3.6% respectively). Consequently, between 2015 and 2017, the value of landings decreased by 11.7%, from $144.8 million to $127.9 million.

Figure 11 shows Canada's Greenland halibut catches in 2017 for each NAFO subarea and division in which Canadian enterprises caught Greenland halibut in 2017. More than two thirds of the catch (68.8%) came from subareas 0A and 0B, located off Baffin Island, in Nunavut. Subarea 2 and division 3K, located off Labrador and northeast of Newfoundland and Labrador respectively, had the second largest catch, with 18.6% of the total. Areas corresponding to the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) and the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and Labrador (3LMNOP) accounted for 7.8% and 4.8%, respectively, of Canadian Greenland halibut landings. In 2017, Quebec was responsible for 83% of the landings in division 4RST. Figure 12 shows each of these NAFO fishing subareas and divisions.

For details, refer to the preceding text
Figure 11: Breakdown of Canadian catches of Greenland halibut, by NAFO subarea and division, 2017 , in thousands of tonnes (Source DFO).
Map showing the boundaries of the NAFO convention area
Figure 12: NAFO subareas and divisions (Source NAFO).

Figure 13 presents landed price trends for Greenland Halibut in Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador between 2001 and 2017. To start with, we note that the average price obtained during this period by vessels of 19.81 metres and over in Newfoundland and Labrador ($4.36/kg) was much higher than the average prices obtained by vessels less than 19.81 metres¹ and over from Newfoundland and Labrador ($2.60/kg) and Quebec ($2.46/kg).

For details, refer to the text that precedes and follows
Figure 13: Average landed prices for Greenland halibut in Quebec and in Newfoundland and Labrador, 2001 to 2017, $/kg (Source: DFO).

It seems that this situation can be explained by the fact that part of Newfoundland and Labrador’s offshore and semi-offshore fleet (≥ 19.81 m) was processing² Greenland Halibut directly on board ship and thus obtaining better landed prices. Finally, it should be pointed out that these packing vessels do not operate in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (divisions 4RST) but in division 0B and subarea 2 (Figure 12).

3.3 Profile of Quebec fishing businesses

In 2017, 85 Quebec businesses³ landed Greenland halibut in the directed fixed gear fishery. They can be divided into two groups: 24 businesses fished under a competitive fishing regime and 62 businesses had an ITQ. Fishers with an ITQ can be further divided as follows: Lower North Shore (7 active fishermen/66 licence holders), Gaspé Upper and Middle North Shore (HMCN) (49 active fishermen/55 licence holders) and Indigenous people (5 active enterprises/7 licence holders).

Table 1 shows the change in the number of businesses active in the Greenland halibut directed fishery, by fleet, from 2008 to 2017; Table 2 shows the change of the number of licence holders under ITQ, by fleet. Tables 3 and 4 provide information on average vessel length and average quantity landed for each fleet. Figure 13 is a graph that illustrates the change in the total value of Greenland halibut landings, by fleet, between 2008 and 2017. Figure 14 shows the income of the various fleets participating in the Greenland halibut fixed gear fishery in Quebec, from 2008 to 2017.

Table 1: Number of businesses active in the Greenland halibut directed fishery, fixed gear, 2008 to 2017.
Groups 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Lower North Shore 28 52 50 54 56 41 16 14 17 7
Gaspé-UMNS (Competitive) 29 27 20 24 22 16 13 19 26 24
Gaspé-UMNS (ITQ) 76 69 67 59 54 53 56 58 60 49
Indigenous Peoples (ITQ and Competitive) 5 5 5 6 7 5 7 8 5 5
Total 138 153 142 143 139 115 92 99 108 85

Source: Statistics, DFO, Quebec Region

Table 2: Number of Greenland halibut licence holders under ITQ, fixed gear, between 2008 and 2017.
Groups 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Lower North Shore (ITQ since 2013)           74 72 70 66 66
Gaspé-UMNS (Competitive) - - - - - - - - - -
Gaspé-UMNS (ITQ) 85 82 75 72 62 79 76 74 56 55
Indigenous Peoples (ITQ and Competitive) 5 5 6 6 7 7 7 7 7 7
Total 90 87 81 78 69 160 155 151 129 128

Source: Statistics, DFO, Quebec Region

Table 3: Mean vessel length (in feet) for enterprises active in the Greenland halibut directed fishery, fixed gear, 2008 to 2017.
Groups 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Lower North Shore (ITQ since 2013) 36.0 36.3 36.1 36.7 36.2 37.0 41.7 43.5 40.3 45.2
Gaspé-UMNS (Competitive) 41.8 41.9 42.2 41.3 42.7 39.5 40.1 41.5 40.4 41.0
Gaspé-UMNS (ITQ) 42.4 43.4 43.6 44.9 45.0 46.3 46.3 45.8 45.7 46.0
Indigenous (ITQ and Competitive) 43.5 45.0 50.4 48.3 51.6 54.9 53.5 51.9 55.1 48.1
Total 41.0 40.7 40.7 41.3 41.8 42.6 45.1 45.1 44.1 44.7

Source: Statistics, DFO, Quebec Region

Table 4: Mean landed quantity (in kg) for enterprises active in the Greenland halibut directed fishery, fixed gear, 2008 to 2017.
Groups 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Lower North Shore (ITQ since 2013) 13,740 9,955 7,271 7,072 5,762 5,138 2,114 6,660 4,678 2,886
Gaspé-UMNS (Competitive) 8,903 11,280 13,098 8,870 10,361 11,293 13,371 11,300 7,431 7,286
Gaspé-UMNS (ITQ) 26,973 32,069 32,557 35,078 39,567 27,869 42,842 37,022 36,630 25,812
Indigenous Peoples (ITQ and Competitive) 44,500 54,790 57,589 47,519 42,255 34,762 58,186 57,579 50,974 12,942
Total 21,191 21,560 21,794 20,532 21,348 17,650 31,365 28,658 25,544 17,996

Source: Statistics, DFO, Quebec Region

Figure 14: Landed value (thousands of dollars), Greenland halibut directed fishery, fixed gear, 2008 to 2017, per group (Source: DFO).

Figure 14 presents the evolution of Greenland halibut landings in Quebec (by value) between 2008 and 2017, depending on whether they were caught in the Gaspé-High and Middle North Shore (ITQ or competitive), on the Lower North Shore or by the Aboriginal communities (Gaspé-HMCN). The figure also shows the evolution of average landed prices in Quebec during this period.

3.3.1 Number of jobs

Greenland halibut fishing vessels typically had a crew of 2 to 4 assistant fishers, in addition to the captain-owner. In 2017, the average number of crew members per business, including the captain, was 3.8. Multiplying this figure by the number of businesses (85) gives 323 crew members. Some businesses were not very active: some went out to sea for only a few days per year whereas others did so for several months. One job for every stretch of 52 days at sea, per person, works out to 187 jobs associated with the Greenland halibut fishery in Quebec, in 2017.

3.4 Quebec processing sector

In 2017, 10 plants and/or fish plants located in the three maritime sectors of Quebec purchased $5.7 million worth of Greenland halibut from fishers (including fishers from other provinces who landed in Quebec). These companies subsequently sold approximately $10.2 million worth of Greenland halibut, 75.0% of which was sold to Canada, 15.3% to China and 8.0% to the rest of Asia (Figure 15). Also in 2016, approximately 61% of Greenland halibut was sold frozen (filleted or whole) while 36% was sold fresh (filleted or whole). Approximately 1% of production was sold salted or as bait. Greenland halibut sold as fillets4, fresh or frozen, accounted for 40.1% of production (by value) while Greenland halibut simply gutted5, fresh or frozen, accounted for 30.8% of production. Approximately 26.8% of production was entirely sold.

For details, refer to the preceding text.
Figure 15: Breakdown of Greenland halibut sales for Quebec processing facilities, by type of processing and destination, 2017 (Source: DFO).

3.4.1 Number of jobs

Every year, an estimated 200 jobs are directly associated with Greenland halibut processing in Quebec facilities. It should be noted that these are seasonal jobs which typically last only a few weeks.

3.5 Canadian exports

Within Canada, the province of Newfoundland and Labrador is the largest exporter of Greenland halibut, accounting for approximately 70% of the total in 2017 (Figure 16). Despite small quantities caught by Nova Scotia companies, Nova Scotia was the second largest exporter of Greenland halibut. In 2016, the quantities of Greenland halibut exported from Nova Scotia reached a peak of 6,962 tonnes or 43.7% of the Canadian total. However, in 2017, they declined by 75% to 1,700 tonnes (21% of the total). It is likely that Nunavut companies that were landing their Greenland halibut in Nova Scotia in 2016 have found an alternate location for their operations in 2017. As for Quebec, it accounted for approximately 9.8% of Canadian exports in 2017.

Canadian Greenland halibut exports increased significantly by 187% between 2000 and 2016, from 5,530 tonnes to 15,910 tonnes. In 2017, they have declined substantially by 48.6% from 15,910 tonnes to 8,170 tonnes. This decrease came mainly from Nova Scotia (-5300 tonnes, -75%) and, to a lesser extent, Newfoundland and Labrador (2200 tonnes, -28%). The top five destinations for Canadian exports of Greenland Halibut in 2016 were Vietnam (64%), Japan (14%), China (10%), Hong Kong (5%) and Taiwan (6%).

For details, refer to the preceding text
Figure 16: Canadian exports of Greenland halibut, by province, 2000 to 2017p, in thousands of tonnes (Source: Statistics Canada/p: Preliminary data as of October 12, 2018.)

4. Management issues

The management issues section provides an overview of key management issues and problems facing the Greenland Halibut fishery in division 4RST for the Quebec region.

The main issues were identified using three information sources: records of proceedings from GGAC meetings and minutes of meetings and the work plan of the Regional Greenland Halibut Management Committee (RGHMC), as well as the sustainability profile of the Greenland halibut fishery derived from the Sustainability Survey for Fisheries. The survey, whose initial results cover 2015, is a simplified checklist that reports on the status of each fish stock and on DFO’s progress in implementing its Sustainable Fisheries Framework policies. Further information on this survey can be found on the DFO website.

Five major issues were identified:

  1. stability and value of active fishing businesses;
  2. the sustainability of fishing activities;
  3. succession Development;
  4. communication with fish harvesters;
  5. allocation for the mobile gear fleet.

4.1 Stability and value of active fishing businesses

Fishing business stability and value are conditions that are vital to continuing Greenland halibut fishing activities.

In 2008, DFO published a study on Greenland halibut fishers’ costs and income covering the period from 2004 to 2006 (DFO 2008). Significant changes have been observed since that period, including an increase in landed prices and a decrease in the number of active businesses, particularly in the competitive regime. In addition, there was a fairly steady increase in fuel prices between 2007 and 2014 (prices fell sharply in 2015). Stakeholders are still working to enhance the fishery’s performance.

The proliferation of ITQ programs and associated business rules seem to be placing constraints on the management of fishing enterprises and there are calls for more flexibility. Catch quality can also be enhanced.

Buyers are now seeking reassurance concerning the responsible management of marine resources and the sustainable development of the sector, through measures such as eco-certification.

The Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations (ACFLR) state that an Aboriginal organization may designate the persons who may fish their allocations, but do not specify that the person must be a member of the community or Aboriginal person. However, given that the objective is to integrate Indigenous Peoples into the commercial fishery to maximize economic benefits, job creation, mentorship and the development of commercial fishing capacity and competencies, DFO strongly encourages the communities to designate members from their community or at least have their allocations fished by an Indigenous person.

4.2 The sustainability of fishing activities

Conservation of the resource is a fundamental principle in decision making related to the exploitation of fisheries resources. The Sustainable Fisheries Framework provides the basis for managing Canadian fisheries in a manner that supports the conservation and sustainable use of resources. The Framework combines existing policies with new and evolving policies related to fisheries management which provide guidance for management decisions with the aim of ensuring sustainable fishing activities. More information about the Sustainable Fisheries Framework can be found on the DFO website. The issue of sustainability of the Greenland halibut fishery is divided into two sections: the impact of fishing on Greenland halibut and the impact of Greenland halibut fishing on the ecosystem and habitat.

4.2.1 Impact of fishing activities on Greenland halibut

Close to 98% of the Greenland halibut landed catch comes from the directed fishery for this species. The remaining 2% comes from bycatch in the directed fisheries for Atlantic cod, redfish and Atlantic halibut. In these cases, the catches are landed, recorded and deducted from the TAC. Greenland halibut are also found, on average, in 89% of observed shrimp fishing activities, which involve the use of trawls. This bycatch is discarded at sea and is not taken into account in fishing allocations. For the most part, it consists of less than 3 kg per haul, composed mainly of 1-year-old juveniles, and to a lesser extent, 2-year-old juveniles, since the mandatory Nordmore grate is designed to exclude large specimens. The annual average Greenland halibut bycatch in the Estuary and Gulf shrimp fishery was estimated at 91 tonnes between 2000 and 2016. In 2017, it was estimated at nearly 97 tonnes, which represents approximately 0.43% of the biomass of Greenland halibut smaller than 30 cm estimated in the DFO survey.

As mentioned in Section 2.1, several important aspects of Greenland halibut biology are still unknown. Additional Information on growth and fecundity rates must be collected to improve knowledge about the stocks and support predictions of changes in the populations.

4.2.2 Impact of fishing activities on habitat and ecosystem

In keeping with the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries established by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, DFO promotes responsible fishing activities with the aim of reducing bycatch and mitigating impacts on habitat everywhere this is biologically justifiable. New policies implemented under the Sustainable Fisheries Framework require that the impacts of fisheries on the ecosystem be taken into account. These include the Policy on Managing Bycatch and the Policy for Managing the Impact of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas. In addition, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) requires that protection be provided to ensure the recovery of species listed under the act. Recovery strategies for species at risk included objectives relating to commercial fishing. For example, the North Atlantic right whale is listed under SARA. Injury and mortality due to interactions with fishing gear pose a serious threat to the species. Interactions between North Atlantic right whales and Greenland halibut fishing activities in 4RST are likely to occur and therefore pose a threat to the species’ recovery. Interactions between fishing activities and wolf species in the estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence are likely and can affect the recovery of these species. Further information on aquatic species at risk and related recovery strategies is available on the DFO website, in the Aquatic Species at Risk section. It is essential to identify and minimize the negative impacts that fishing activities can have on the ecosystem.


The Government of Canada is committed to protecting 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 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 is available on the DFO website.

The DFO is establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OEABCM) in consultation with industry, non-governmental organizations, and other interested parties that help meet these targets. Overview of these tools, including a description of the role of fisheries management measures that qualify as OEABCM, is available on the DFO website.

Specific measures for the conservation and protection of cold water corals and sponges that affect the Greenland Halibut fishery qualify as OEABCM and therefore contribute to Canada’s marine conservation targets. More information on these management measures and their conservation objectives is provided in section 7 (Management Measures) of this IFMP.

The area where Greenland halibut directed gillnet fishing activities can be carried out in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is restricted. The other fisheries are subject to the same restrictions in connection with these areas where fishing is prohibited. A change in the traditional use of fishing grounds could lead to conflicts between fleets.

4.3 Succession development

Members of the fishing industry are facing a scarce succession. Some constraints, including limited access to start-up capital for fishing companies, help discourage newcomers from participating in the industry.

4.4 Communication with fish harvesters

Communicating with fishers remains a daily challenge. New technologies are available but the industry must adapt to them. More and more fishermen are connected to the Internet. The Office des pêcheurs de flétan du Groenland du Québec (OPFGQ) intends to use this tool in a near futur to communicate with its clients.

4.5 Allocation for the mobile gear fleet

On July 12, 2013, the Department announced future integration measure to mobile gear fleet in 4RST divisions as part of a gradual process based on TAC increases beyond 4,500 tonnes.

However, re-entry conditions and the terms related to the sharing of the allocation among the fleets with mobile engines will have to be addressed in discussions, to ensure a harmonious and environmentally responsible co-existence.

5. Objectives

This section of the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan defines the Plan’s objectives, as identified jointly by Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the industry. These objectives are directly related to the issues identified in Section 4 and will help stakeholders focus their efforts over the next few years. Section 10 provides performance indicators for reviewing performance to assess whether these objectives have been achieved.

5.1 Stability and value of active fishing businesses

Great efforts are being made by the industry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ, Quebec Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food) to create an operating environment that will improve business stability and value. In all, five objectives were identified:

5.1.1 Promote flexibility in the management of fishing businesses

Fishers with access to an expanded portfolio of licences can manage their fish harvesting activities more effectively. Fishing different allocations simultaneously can lead to a reduction in losses or closures due to bycatch, in addition to providing savings in labour and operating costs.

The proliferation of ITQ programs and associated requirements has complicated management. DFO is currently developing a framework for drafting ITQ programs and the associated administrative rules, which will be submitted to the industry for comments. Following this exercise, various ITQ programs may be merged if this is considered a promising avenue to facilitate transactions. Assess the relevance of allowing inter-program transfers of ITQs.

ITQ transfers are a common and cost-effective practice for fishers who do not personally harvest all their allocations. Administrative guidelines govern transfers: besides the initial maximum transfers allowed, some programs provide for low-cost, voluntary temporary transfers of the remaining quota from May 1 to 14 of each year. The Office des pêcheurs de flétan du Groenland du Québec coordinates these transfers.

These transfers are only allowed between partners under ITQ programs, according to rules that have been predetermined and agreed to within each fleet. The opening up of transfers between ITQ programs may provide an additional source of income for fishers. The impacts of such a decision remains to be assessed.

5.1.2 Adapt the management regime to the needs of competitive fleets

While the implementation of ITQ programs provided some stability for participating fishers, it also reduced the proportion of allocations available to the competitive fishery. Over time, some fishers have seen their catch potential decrease and they are worried about profitability and the future of their business. The development of a new ITQ program, or the integration of fishers into current programs, would benefit some fishers.

5.1.3 Maintain the diversity of fishing capacity of all fleets and the processing sector.

With voluntary rationalization of fishing enterprises, the industry is seeking to maintain the inshore fishery for those capable of earning a living from it, as well as maintain the more intensive fishery for larger vessels. Allocations made available by businesses that withdraw from the fisheries can thus be redistributed among the remaining fishers and increase their income.

The rationalization process is nearly complete, and close to 30% of fishing businesses have withdrawn from the fishery. Efforts continue on the North Shore and especially on the Lower North Shore with discussions with a focus on restructuring.

5.1.4 Maximize the value of landed catches (certification, joint planning, handling…)

Several factors influence the prices paid to fishers for their landed catches. Various approaches are available to fishers and a more detailed study should be conducted on the potential benefits to their businesses and the necessary changes to their fishing practices.

In response to consumers’ growing concerns about the sustainability of marine species, import businesses and major retailers are increasingly requiring Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for the sale of fishery products.

Another potential avenue to adding value would be based on the quality of landed catches. Better prices could be obtained for very fresh fish that has not spent too much time in nets, that has not sustained injuries and that, once out of water, has been preserved with a sufficient supply of ice to slow natural decay processes.

5.1.5 Minimize annual variations in TACs

TAC variation greatly influence fishers’ activities as they directly impact their fishing effort and consequently their expected income for the season. The industry wants to maintain stability through TAC announcements of significant TAC changes of 500 tonnes (decrease or increase) based on the status of the resource.

Since 2011, the 4RST Greenland halibut stock has been assessed and managed on a two-year cycle. The TAC has also been announced on that cycle, based on the scientific assessments. In the intervening years, an update report on indicators is produced, which can lead to a full assessment if the trigger threshold is reached.

5.2 The sustainability of fishing activities

Sustainable fishery management requires excellent knowledge of the biology and status of the stock. The following objectives will address concerns that have been raised by scientists, fishery managers and the industry. The impact of the fishery must be considered in relation to Greenland halibut and the other ecosystem components that may be affected by fishing activities.

5.2.1 Develop and implement the precautionary approach.

An empirical precautionary approach(PA) is being developed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence Greenland halibut stock. The monitoring indicator and limit reference point (LRP) have been adopted. An upper stock reference (USR) has been proposed by the Science Sector but has not yet been adopted. A proposed upper reference point of 38,000 T was suggested to take into account the climate changes that have been occurring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence over the past 10 years, such as the increase in temperature at depth and the decrease in oxygen concentration. Document the benefits and impacts of eco-certification.

An empirical precautionary approach(PA) is being developed for the Gulf of St. Lawrence Greenland halibut stock. The monitoring indicator and limit reference point (LRP) have been adopted. An upper stock reference (USR) has been proposed by the Science Sector but has not yet been adopted. A proposed upper reference point of 38,000 T was suggested to take into account the climate changes that have been occurring in the Gulf of St. Lawrence over the past 10 years, such as the increase in temperature at depth and the decrease in oxygen concentration. Document the benefits and impacts of eco-certification.

An eco-certification project for the Greenland halibut fishery is being carried out under the initiative of the Quebec Fish Processors Association (QFPA). The industry intends to actively support this approach.

5.2.2 Develop selective and ecological fishing gear.

It is important to understand and measure the impacts of fishing operations. Gear selectivity still needs to be improved. Several initiatives are being carried out with a view to improve fishing gear selectivity and minimizing bycatch. Complete data must be available to support the characterization of bycatch, including bycatch with a commercial value (such as Atlantic halibut) and bycatch with no commercial value, such as sculpin. Similarly, compilation of data on discards at sea will allow for a better understanding of the extent of these discards.

5.2.3 Contribute to the protection of marine and coastal areas

Marine protected areas are implemented to preserve species and their habitats. The restrictions related to each type of measure support preservation efforts for various ecosystems. This objective is designed to ensure turbot fishers’ compliance with rules related to marine protected areas and their compliance, including the prohibition on using bottom-contact gear in coral and sponge conservation sites.

5.2.4 Minimize the impacts of fishing on species at risk

Recording of species at risk bycatch or incidental catch and cases of lost fishing gear is essential for assessing and minimizing the impact of fishing on species at risk. Maintenance of and adjustments to conservation measures are necessary to minimize the risks of fishing impacts on species at risk and thus contribute to their recovery. Management measures related to species at risk are detailed in section 7.4 of this IFMP.

5.3 Succession development

The future of the Quebec fishing industry depends mainly on its participants, many of whom are ageing. It is important to create favourable conditions that will promote the participation of the younger generation in the Greenland halibut fishing industry.

5.3.1 Promote the value of the fishing profession

The Comité sectoriel de main d’œuvre des pêches maritimes is finalizing a study on promoting the profession. The GHRMC intends to carefully analyze this committee’s recommendations and actively contribute to implementing the avenues deemed to be the most promising.

5.3.2 Promote access to capital for the start-up of fishing businesses

Another avenue likely to interest the next generation relates to the availability and flexibility of financial support programs.

5.3.3 Facilitate succession

Modernizing policies and administrative rules, would prevent the value of fishing enterprises from making access to the next generation unattainable while maintaining the profitability of fishing enterprises.

5.3.4 Facilitate access to formative session for fish harvesters and First Nations

An appropriate training plan is needed to keep up with new technologies in the Greenland halibut fishery.

5.4 Communication with fish harvesters

5.4.1 Facilitate access to information through the DFO website

Using the DFO regional website as a platform for communicating with Greenland halibut fishers would help to centralize information and ensure that fishers have access to it all times. In addition, the Quebec Greenland halibut fishermen's office (OPFGQ) could develop its own website to communicate with its members.

5.5 Allocations for the mobile gear fleet

5.5.1 Determine the modalities of a possible integration of mobile gear fleet

Allocations for mobile gear fleets when integration to fishing must be confirmed and stabilized in the long run with a view to recognizing the historical participation of regional fleets.

6. Access and allocation

The total allowable catch (TAC) for Greenland Halibut in the Gulf is divided up between four categories of fleets: fixed gear fleets of vessels less than 19.81 m, which have access to 76.2% of the TAC, and the three mobile gear fleets (< 19.81 m, ≥ 19. 81 m and < 30.48 m, and ≥ 30.48 m), all of which combined have access to 23.8 % of the TAC.

After several years of discussions and various formulas for temporarily sharing the allocation for the fixed gear fleet, on September 6, 2001, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans confirmed that the Quebec fleet would henceforth have access to 82% of the fishing quota for the Gulf fixed gear fleet, whereas Newfoundland and Labrador’s fleet would receive 18% of this quota. At the same time, he announced that he was temporarily transferring half the quota of the inshore mobile gear fleet (< 19.81m)to the fixed gear fleet, which was to be broken down into a share of 92% for the Quebec fleet and 8% for the Newfoundland and Labrador fleet.

To implement a first ITQ program, the Quebec share of the fixed gear fleet was broken down into three shares under a 1998 agreement between three groups of harvesters. The under-ITQ fleet and the Lower North Shore and Other than Lower North Shore competitive fleets each obtained one access share. More recently, on May 18, 2012, by mutual consent, the share going to the Other than Lower North Shore fleet was split into three: one share for the Upper and Middle North Shore fleet and two for the Gaspé < 13.71 m and ≥ 13.71 m fleets. Finally, on June 29, 2012, under an agreement between the groups of harvesters on the Lower North Shore, the Lower North Shore fleet share was divided between two groups, the group under a new ITQ program and the non ITQ program. Figure 17 provides the details of fleet shares.

Figure 17: Greenland halibut fleet TAC shares in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Source: DFO, Quebec Region).

¹ Share of the temporary transfer of part (50%) of the allocation of the mobile gear fleet < 19.81 m

² Share of the Quebec allocation from the temporary transfer of part of the allocation of the mobile gear fleet < 19.81 m. If the transfer of part of the allocation of the mobile gear fleet < 19.81 m to the fixed gear fleet is not extended, the allocation of the Quebec fixed gear fleet < 19.81 m will be distributed as follows: ITQ – 80.400%,; Lower North Shore – 12.000%, Other than Lower North Shore – 7.600%.


Overall quote

  • Fixed gears < 19.81 m: 76.2%
    • Quebec: 82% (+ 92%)1
      • ITQ: 83.19% (+ 47.13%)2
      • LNS: 10.29% (+ 27.87%)2
        • ITQ: 94.987%
        • Non-ITQ: 5.013%
          • < 13.71 m: 74%
          • ≥ 13.71 m: 26%
      • Other Than LNS: 6.52% (+ 25.00%)2
        • Gaspé: 88%
        • UMNS: 12%
    • Newfoundland and Labrador: 18% (+ 8%)1
  • Mobile gears < 19.81: 14.267%
  • Mobile gears ≥ 19.81 m and < 30.48 m: 8.6%
  • Mobile gears < 30.48 m: 0.933%

As for the mobile gear fleets < 19.81 m, ≥ 19.81 m and < 30.48 m and ≥ 30.48 m, their shares correspond, respectively, to 14.267%, 8.600% and 0.933%. These shares were mainly based on the bycatch before, on the one hand, the introduction of Nordmore grates by shrimp harvesters in 1993 and, on the other hand, the marked decline in groundfish stocks, including cod and redfish, at the beginning of the 1990s. Although the share of the ≥ 30.48 m fleet was identified as being exclusively reserved for covering the bycatch, the two other fleets had not had access to the directed fishery since 1993. They will be given access to the directed fishery when the TAC exceeds 4,500 tonnes. Moreover, as indicated above, in 2001 the Minister transferred half of the quota for the mobile gear fleet < 19.81 m to the fixed gear fleet in the Gulf. This ministerial decision was reconfirmed in 2013.

7. Management measures

The management measures for the Greenland halibut fishery in the 4RST NAFO divisions are announced by means of Notices to Fish Harvesters. These Notices are published annually and describe the management measures that will be put into place for a given year. Notices to Fish Harvesters are issued by DFO on its Quebec Region website.

7.1. Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

Every two years, a peer review provides advice on the Greenland halibut stock status in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Fisheries Management and the Minister take this advice into account in connection with the establishment of a TAC. The Science Advisory Report is published in the CSAS section of the DFO website.

7.2 Fishing seasons and areas

The groundfish fishing season begins on May 15 and ends on May 14 of the following year. The duration of Greenland halibut fishery is generally from May 15 to the end of October of one year, and then from the beginning of April to May 14 of the following year. At the start of each fishing season, a Notice to Fishers confirms the opening and closing dates. Figure 1 shows a map of the fishing areas.

7.3. Control and monitoring of removals

Gillnets with a mesh size between 152 and 165 mm are the authorized fishing gear for Greenland halibut directed fishing. Longlines can be authorized under specific conditions. Notices to Fish Harvesters provide specific information related to fishing gear use.

An allocation of approximately 3% is deducted from each competitive quota to cover Greenland halibut bycatches made in directed fisheries for other groundfish species.

Dockside monitoring of all landings by an independent company is mandatory and the cost is borne by the industry.

The presence of at-sea observers is mandatory for at least 5% of fishing trips (15% for longliners and the fleet 13.71 m and over under the ITQ regime of the Gaspé (Other)). The At-Sea Observer Program is delivered by a DFO-accredited company, at the expense of the industry.

Bycatches of small groundfish are monitored by at-sea observers and a protocol for the closure of problematic sectors is applied to minimize excessive catches. Measures related to small fish and bycatch in the Greenland halibut fishery are outlined in Appendix 2.

All fishing operations must be accurately recorded in a logbook before arrival at dock. These measures include using a specific form for mandatory reporting of interactions with marine mammals.

The Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) has been mandatory since 2012 for Quebec fleets operating under an ITQ, and since 2015 for fleets operating under the competitive regime in the Gaspé and the Upper and Mid North Shore. Data must be transmitted every 30 minutes.

7.4 Species at Risk

Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act (SARA), no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture, take, possess, collect, buy sell or trade an individual or any part or derivate of a wildlife species designated as extirpated, endangered or threatened. The species at risk in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence likely to be captured during Greenland halibut fishery are: Spotted Wolffish, Northern Wolffish and Leatherback Turtle. Other species could be added during the year.

However, under section 83(4) of SARA, the recovery plans for species at risk listed above allow fishers to engage in commercial fishing activities subject to conditions. All bycatch of these species by Greenland halibut harvesters must be immediately returned to the water and, if the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm. Information related to species at risk catches must be reported in the “Species at risk” section of the logbook. Furthermore, information regarding interactions with all species at risk, including the species listed above as well as the North Atlantic Right Whale, the Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population), the Blue Whale (Atlantic population), the Beluga Whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population) and the Great White Shark must be recorded in the Species at Risk section of the logbook.

Given the presence of North Atlantic right whales in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, several management measures have been implemented to minimize the risk of entanglement of these individuals. These measures are detailed in the Greenland halibut CHP and include reducing the quantity of rope floating on the water surface, marking fishing gear, providing additional identification of buoys and reporting lost fishing gear.

7.5. Habitat and biodiversity protection measures

The protection of fish during the spawning period and in cod aggregation areas is a priority that the Department and the industry consider very important to ensure the rebuilding of cod stocks in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. For this purpose, three areas have been closed to Greenland halibut fishing; they are shown in Figure 18. Area 1 corresponds to the groundfish fishery closure from April 1 to June 23 in part of the NAFO 4R division, offshore from St. George's Bay and Port-au-Port Bay. In this figure, areas 2 and 3 correspond to permanent Greenland halibut fishery closures the in waters less than 125 fathoms deep in NAFO 4R division (Area 2), and in part of the NAFO division 4T south of Cap Gaspé (Area 3).

For details, refer to the preceding text
Figure 18: Areas closed to the Greenland halibut fishery.

In 2017, fishery closures were implemented as part of the Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada. The purpose of this strategy is to protect cold-water coral and sponge species, communities, and their habitats in the Atlantic region, including the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. A total of 11 areas with high concentrations of corals or sponges were selected for protection. The use of bottom-contacting fishing gear, including gillnets and longlines used by Greenland halibut harvesters, is prohibited as of December 15, 2017 in the coral and sponge conservation areas, some of which are found in the Greenland halibut fishing areas (figure 19). These conservation areas also qualify as OEABCM and therefore contribute to national marine conservation targets. More details on each of these areas are available on the DFO website.

Map of Coral and sponge conservation areas and groundfish fishing area limits
Figure 19: Coral and sponge conservation areas and groundfish fishing area limits (Source: DFO, Quebec Region).

8. Shared stewardship arrangements

Industry participation in Greenland Halibut fishery management takes place on two levels, the interregional level and the regional level.

8.1 Interregional governance

As described in section 1.6.1, interregional governance is ensured by the GGAC.

8.2 Regional governance

As a result of the sharing decisions announced in 2001, the Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador regions each implemented consultation mechanisms for regional stakeholders.

The GHRMC is the main regional consultation mechanism in the Quebec Region. It allows the Quebec fishing industry to become actively involved in promoting planned and consistent fishing activities with a view to ensuring a sustainable and profitable Greenland halibut fishery.

Based on the terms of reference agreed to by its members, the Committee identifies and analyzes fishery issues, establishes realistic objectives, and proposes suitable methods for reaching the expected results with regard to the sustainability of the Greenland halibut resource and of the fishery, the industry's economic viability, and the economic prosperity of the maritime sectors.

More specifically, the mandate of the GHRMC includes the following:

9. Compliance plan

9.1 Conservation and Protection Program description

The Conservation and Protection (C&P) Program promotes and ensures compliance with the acts, regulations and management measures for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of Canada's aquatic resources and protection of species at risk, fish habitat, oceans and marine protected areas for the preservation of the seabed (corals and sponges).

Implementing the program follows a balanced approach of management and enforcement, including:

9.2 Delivery of the regional compliance program

The C&P program is responsible, in whole or in part, for compliance and enforcement activities for all regional fisheries including, but not limited to, habitat, the Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program (CSSP), marine protected area activities to ensure seabed protection, marine mammal protection, species at risk protection and all other activities related to the protection of aquatic species. Therefore, the amount of patrolling time allocated to a particular fishery is based largely on risk assessment for the resource and setting priorities. The C&P Branch surveillance efforts may vary from one year to another for a given fishery based on set priorities.

C&P monitoring activities of the Greenland halibut fleet (ITQ and competitive fishery) mainly focus on the catch, fishing effort, and landings.

9.3 Catch and fishing effort

The At-Sea Observer Program is an essential tool for monitoring Greenland halibut fishing activities. It is the only independent source of data on the composition of catches at sea, which is used for tracking incidental catches. To ensure effective deployment of at-sea observers on board fishing vessels, DFO has made hail outs mandatory for all Greenland halibut fleets.

The C&P aerial surveillance program is responsible for enforcement of closures. During surveillance flights, fishing vessels are identified and their position determined to check the validity of their fishing licence and conditions of licence.

Fishery officers on board patrol boats may board any fishing vessel when they deem this appropriate. Upon boarding a vessel, they check the compliance of fishing gear (mesh size, number of nets, gear tagging) and logbook maintenance, among other things. They also lift and check gear deployed in the water.

In 2012, the VMS was applied to Greenland halibut fishers from the Quebec region operating under an ITQ, thereby improving at-sea monitoring of fishing and reducing conflicts over the use of fishing grounds (fixed gear/mobile gear conflicts). As in 2018, the VMS is used by all Greenland halibut fishers from the Quebec region.

9.4 Landings

The Dockside Monitoring Program is the primary means of monitoring Greenland halibut landings. This program is essential for monitoring the landings of both fleets operating under an ITQ as well as those operating under the competitive fishing regime. Fishery officers check fishers' compliance with the conditions of licence related to dockside monitoring by performing direct audits of landings or by checking compliance with requirements related to hail-ins and estimates of catches at sea.

9.5 Consultations

C&P actively participates in the preparation and meetings of the Gulf Groundfish Advisory Committee and the Greenland Halibut Regional Management Committee. C&P is regularly consulted by resource managers on preparation and implementation of management measures. Discussions or occasional working meetings are also held between DFO and fleet representatives. C&P also participates in informal interactions with all parties involved in the fishery on the wharf, during patrols or in the community to promote conservation.

9.6 Compliance performance

Monitoring efforts are generally shown as hours of work devoted to groundfish fishing and the results relate to irregularities identified by fishery officers. C&P has also set up a program to monitor compliance for the different fishing fleets. Indices related to hail-outs and hail-ins are calculated to provide a measure of fleet compliance with these programs and the effectiveness of the programs.

9.7 Current compliance issues

9.7.1 Quota compliance

Two management regimes govern the Greenland halibut fishery: ITQs and the competitive fishery. Compliance with individual quotas and competitive fishing quotas must be strictly monitored. The annual reconciliation of quota overruns (ITQ and competitive fishery) reduces C&P's involvement in quota compliance.

9.7.2 Bycatch/discards

Bycatch and discards at sea (Greenland or Atlantic halibut of a legal size or smaller than 85 mm, cod, snow crab, wolfish, etc.) require regular monitoring. Information from at-sea observers and monitoring of landings are the main tools for monitoring the bycatch. Dockside monitoring by fishery officers also includes spot checks of the catch during landings.

9.7.3 Logbooks

Keeping the logbook up to date and recording accurate data as stipulated in the conditions of licence are necessary for orderly management of the fishery. Logbooks are an important source of information used to monitor fishing effort (catch rates, fishing gear soak time). Logbook compliance is one of the requirements checked during boardings and dockside monitoring.

9.7.4 Gear conflicts

Conflicts over the use of fishing grounds have occurred in the past between Greenland halibut and shrimp harvesters in the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. These conflicts have led to inter-fleet meetings and the establishment of the Vessel Monitoring System for both fleets. C&P's involvement is required in order to implement, monitor and enforce this measure.

9.8 Compliance strategy

C&P monitoring of the Greenland halibut fishing fleet in the Gulf mainly concerns the catch, fishing effort and landings.

9.8.1 Catch and fishing effort

As part of the fisheries compliance program, the Greenland halibut fishery is monitored by vessel patrols throughout the season. These patrols include, for example, vessels from area offices and mid-shore patrol vessels, which are present on the St. Lawrence River and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence as soon as the ice melts in the spring. During these patrols, boardings are carried out to check the compliance of fishing activities. Boardings allow fishery officers to check the compliance of anchored fishing gear, licences, logbooks and fish size, etc. Fishery officers also conduct dockside monitoring to ensure the compliance of landings.

The VMS is a program used to monitor the location of vessels and their movement. It improves the effectiveness of DFO’s compliance program and promotes compliance with fisheries regulations by providing DFO with regular vessel position information. This measure promotes the conservation of ecosystems and makes it possible to anticipate potential fleet conflicts over the use of fishing grounds.

The At-Sea Observer Program implemented by a DFO-independent firm provides information through the verification and analysis of species caught. At-sea observers collect catch data that allow DFO to ensure effective management of species caught. Fishery officers track activities related to the program and ensure compliance. Any situation involving a refusal to allow an at-sea observer to monitor a fishing trip is handled by a DFO investigation officer.

10. Performance review

This section is mainly based on the work plan of the GHRMC and defines the indicators that are used to assess progress in reaching the objectives identified in Section 5. A list of qualitative and quantitative indicators is proposed. Biennial follow-ups for each indicator provide a means of evaluating progress. Accordingly, this section will be updated on a regular basis according to the objectives jointly established and validated by the industry and DFO.

Management issue 1: Stability and value of active fishing businesses
Objectives Measures/Actions Indicators
5.1.1 Promote flexibility in the management of fishing businesses. Commentary on the framework for drafting administrative guidelines being prepared by DFO. Comments made and forwarded.
Revision of the programs and administrative guidelines in light of the new ITQ model and new fishing realities. Revision completed and shared with the industry. Assess the relevance of allowing inter-program transfers of ITQs. Assessment of the possibility of allowing, on a temporary basis, the low-cost transfer for the ITQ fleet from the LNS to the UMNS and Gaspé Peninsula.

Evaluation completed.

Decision and conditions.
Validation and implementation of pilot project for temporary transfers between ITQ programs and, if necessary, implement the transfer between programs on a permanent basis for Gaspé Peninsula.

Report completed.

Authorisation, if necessary, of transfer.
Assess the feasibility of merging some ITQ programs. Recommendations of the feasibility study.
5.1.2 Adapt the management regime to the needs of competitive fleets. Identification of different possible management regimes based on the fleet shares established in 2012. List of options and recommendations by fleet segment.
Presentation of scenarios to the fish harvesters of the fleets involved. Number of fish harvesters met and informed.
Consult with the fish harvesters of the fleets concerned. Number of fishermen concerned by the consultation, number of consultations, number of respondents, assessment of current membership (votes).
Development of chosen management approach.

Satisfaction rate of fisherman.

Number of new fish harvesters under ITQ;

Updated administrative guidelines.
5.1.3 Maintain the diversity of fishing capacity of all fleets and the processing sector. Continuing restructuring efforts on the LNS. % of licences withdrawn out of an initial target of 25%.
Distribution of fishing effort over time or on site in a context of eco-conservation and orderly fishing. Updated administrative guidelines.
5.1.4 Maximize the value of landed catches. Identification the needs of buyers and fish harvesters and the value-added elements that can improve profitability.

Needs list.

List of value-added items.

Evolution of landed prices.
Documentation of the impact of fishing practices (certification, joint planning, fish quality, icing, immersion time, without injury with a pitchfork...) on the value of landed catches6.

Discuss different fishing practices annually with the Greenland Halibut Regional Management Committee.

Documentation of the impacts of fishing practices.
Identify marketing opportunities and alternative markets.

Study completed.

List of marketing opportunities.
5.1.5 Minimize annual variations in TACs. Include the obligation to take into account a minimum variation of 500 tonnes when revising TACs. Rules defined and integrated to precautionary approach.
Management issue 2: The sustainability of fishing activities
Objectives Measures/Actions Indicators
- Impact of fishing activities on Greenland halibut
5.2.1 Develop and implement the precautionary approach. Determination of the stock status indicator and reference points. Indicator and reference points specified.
Production of a draft of the catch level decision rules. Defined preliminary rules.
Clarification of the elements that trigger a stock revaluation in intermediate years. Defined triggers.
Presentation of the results of the process at CGRM meetings. Annual progress update of the work.
- Impact of fishing activities on habitat and ecosystem
5.2.3 Develop selective and ecological fishing gear. Continuation of the discussions to reduce bycatch.

Annual review of by-catch monitoring available.

Trend in the rate of bycatches.
Documentation of by-catch. Integration of logbook and at-sea observer data into stock assessment.
Development of research projects with industry on more selective equipment. Number of initiatives from industry.
5.2.4 Contribute to the protection of marine and coastal areas. Maintain, and adjust as necessary, conservation measures to reduce the impacts of fishing in marine and coastal protected areas.

Compliance with the closure areas fishing prohibition for the protection of corals and sponges;

Following the signing of the Canada-Quebec Cooperation Agreement for the Establishment of a Network of Marine Protected Areas in Quebec in March 2018, the governments of Canada and Quebec are assessing the possibility of strengthening the protection of corals and sponges in the Gulf of St. Lawrence by regulating activities other than fishing in some of these areas.
5.2.5 Minimize the impacts of fishing on species at risk. Contribution of species at risk recovery strategies by maintaining, and adjusting as necessary, conservation measures to reduce the impacts of fishing on species at risk.

Contribution to the recovery plan Right whale :

  • Decreased interaction rate with right whales;
  • Implementation of conservation measures, if necessary;
  • Fish harvesters are involved in mitigation efforts.

Contribution to the Northern and Spotted Wolffish Recovery Strategy and the Atlantic Wolffish Management Plan:

  • Implementation of new conservation measures, if necessary;
  • Mandatory release of wolffish;
  • Record interactions in the LEP section of the logbook.
Management issue 3: Succession development
Objectives Measures/Actions Indicators
5.3.1 Promote the value of the fishing profession. Analyse of results from report being prepared by the Comité sectoriel de la main d’œuvre des pêches maritimes. Report available.
Contribution to the implementation of the recommendations of the report. Recommendations implemented by the Industry and MAPAQ.
5.3.2 Promote access to capital for the start-up of fishing businesses. Ease the rules of financial support programs to facilitate access to licences for the succession7.

MAPAQ is the file holder:

  • Succession committee formed;
  • creation of a toolbox to facilitate access to the succession.
5.3.3 Facilitate succession. Modernization of licence transfer policies and administrative guidelines. Carry out an assessment in accordance with the terms of the regional ITQ management directive.
5.3.4 Facilitate access to formative session for fish harvesters and First Nations. Hold discussions between the industry and the Fisheries School to train fish harvesters and First Nations in appropriate locations. Number of fish harvesters trained by training site.
Management issue 4: Communication with fish harvesters
Objectives Measures/Actions Indicators
5.4.1 Facilitate access to information through the DFO website. Include updated information on the DFO regional website. Accessibility of information.
Management issue 5: Allocations for the mobile gear fleet
Objectives Measures/Actions Indicators
5.5.1 Determine the modalities of a possible integration of mobile gear fleet.

Establish a DFO - Industry Committee.

  • Define the mandate the Committee.
  • Report and action plan.

11. Glossary

Abundance: Number of individuals in a stock or a population.

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

Bycatch: The unintentional catch of one species when the target is another.

Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP): Fishing plans that stipulate management measures and certain terms and conditions for regulating fishing activities.

Demersal: Organisms that live and are dependent on the sea floor.

Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP): A monitoring program that is conducted by a company that has been designated by the Department, which verifies the species composition and landed weight of all fish landed from a commercial fishing vessel.

Fish:As described in the Fisheries Act, fish includes:

  1. parts of fish,
  2. shellfish, crustaceans, marine animals and any parts of shellfish, crustaceans or marine animals, and
  3. the eggs, sperm, spawn, larvae, spat and juvenile stages of fish, shellfish, crustaceans and marine animals.

Fishing effort: Quantity of effort using a given fishing gear over a given period of time.

Fixed gear:Fishing gear other than mobile gear, angling gear, a drift net, a crab trap, a lobster trap or a dip net.

Ghost fishing: The situation where fishing gear lost or left at sea continues to catch and kill marine species.

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

Landings: Quantity of a species caught and landed.

Management measure: Measure put in place to manage the fishery in order to ensure the conservation of the resource.

Mesopelagic: Relating to the underwater area between 200 m and 1000 m deep.

Mobile gear: Trawls, purse seines and scallop drags.

Pelagic: A pelagic species, such as herring, lives in midwater or close to the surface.

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

Quota: Portion of the total allowable catch that a unit such as vessel class, country, etc. is permitted to take from a stock in a given period of time.

Recruitment: Amount of individuals becoming 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. Ex: bottom trawl survey, plankton survey, hydroacoustic survey, etc.

Sexual dimorphism: Morphological differences between male and female in a given species.

Species at Risk Act (SARA): The Act is a federal government commitment 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.

Stock: Describes a population of individuals of one species found in a particular area, and is used as a unit for fisheries management. Ex: NAFO area 4S herring.

Stock assessment: Scientific evaluation of the status of a species belonging to a same stock within a particular area in a given time period.

Tonne: Metric tonne, which is 1000kg or 2204.6lbs.

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

Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK): 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.

Turbot fishers: Fishing vessel targeting Greenland halibut.

Appendix 1: Science Advisory

The last Science Advisory Report published during the update of this IFMP is Science Advisory Report 2019/023: Assessment of the Greenland Halibut Stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2018. It is available on the DFO website, in the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) section.

In the intervening years, when no stock assessment is planned, an update of the indicators is carried out. The last update of the indicators was in 2018. The Science Response entitled Update of Stock Status Indicators for Greenland Halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2018 can be found on the DFO website, in the CSAS section.

DFO’s Science Advisory Schedule is also available in the CSAS section.

Appendix 2: Protocol for small fish and bycatches

Information on the protocol for small fish and bycatch is available in the Conservation Harvesting Plans (CHPs) published in the Notices to Fish Harvesters section of the DFO Quebec Region website.


If daily bycatch limits are exceeded, the fishery may be closed. Bycatch is defined as the weight of a bycatch species divided by the weight of the directed species, in this case, Greenland Halibut

Bycatch limits of groundfish while targeting Greenland halibut in 4RST
Bycatch Authorized percentage
Cod 10% daily
White Hake 5% daily
Shark The least of 10% daily or 500 kg
Atlantic halibut 3% daily
Other species of groundfish 10% daily
Bycatch limits of groundfish per fishing trip for the Gaspé fixed gear fleet of ≥13.71 meters under ITQ (Longliners and Other groups) while targeting Greenland halibut
Bycatch Authorized percentage by Greenland halibut fishing trip based on fishing gear used
Longline Gillnet
3Pn4RS Cod From April 1 to June 23: 10% 10%
4T Cod 10% 10%
Atlantic halibut Fishing using hooks with an opening less than 15.4 mm: 40% 3%
4T Hake 5% 5%
Other species of groundfish 10% 10%

Small fish

Areas could be closed for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of any of the species below.

Species and minimum size lengths that could trigger a closure
Species Minimum length
Cod 43 cm
American Plaice 30 cm
Witch Flounder 30 cm
White Hake 45 cm
Winter Flounder 25 cm
Yellowtail 25 cm
Greenland halibut 44 cm
Atlantic halibut 85 cm
Redfish 22 cm

Appendix 3: Safety of fishing vessels 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 their vessel against damage and protect the environment. All fishing vessels must be seaworthy and maintained according to the regulations in force by Transport Canada (TC).

In the federal government, responsibility for navigation and regulations and inspections of ship safety is the responsibility of Transport Canada (TC), emergency response and rescue of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG), while Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is responsible for the management of fisheries resources. In Quebec, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST) has a mandate to prevent accidents and diseases work on board fishing vessels. All of these organizations are working together to promote culture of safety at sea and protection of the environment from the fishing community of Quebec.

The Standing Committee on the Safety of Fishing Vessels of Quebec, consisting of all the organizations involved in safety at sea, provides an annual forum for discussion and information for all matters related to the safety of fishing vessels such as design, construction, maintenance, operation and inspection of fishing vessels, as well as training and certification of fishermen. Any other topic of interest for the safety of fishing vessels and the protection of the environment can be presented and discussed. Fishers can also discussed security issues related to the management plan of the species (e.g. Fishery openings) in advisory committees held by DFO.

It is worth remembering that before leaving for a fishing expedition, the owner, master or operator must ensure that the fishing vessel is capable of doing its work safely. The critical factors of a fishing expedition include airworthiness and stability of the ship, possession of required safety equipment in good working board, crew training and knowledge of current and forecast weather. 

Appendix 4: DFO Contacts – Quebec Region

Name Branch Telephone Fax E-Mail Address
Steve Trottier Resource Management (418) 648-4946 (418) 648-7981
Jean Picard Resource Management and Aboriginal Affairs (418) 648-7679 (418) 648-7981
Dario Lemelin Resource Management (418) 648-3236 (418) 648-7981
Sarah Larochelle Aboriginal Affairs (418) 648-7870 (418) 648-7981
Yves Richard Conservation and Protection (418) 648-5886 (418) 648-7981
Johanne Gauthier Sciences (418) 775-0871 (418) 775-0740
Ali Magassouba Strategic Services (418) 648-4878 (418) 649-8003
Bernard Morin Statistics (418) 648-5935 (418) 648-7981
Pascale Fortin Communications (418) 648-7316 (418) 648-7718
Magalie Hardy Gaspé Area (418) 368-5559 (418) 368-4349
Mathieu Morin North Shore Area (418) 962-6314 (418) 962-1044

Appendix 5: Bibliography

Arthur, J.R. and Albert, E. 1993. Use of parasites for separating stocks of Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) in the canadian northwest Atlantic. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 50: 2175-2181.

Bernier, B. et Chabot, D. 2013. Assessment of Greenland Halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides) stock status in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2010 and diet description for this population. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Research document. 2012/140. viii + 85 p.

Bourdages, H., Brassard, C., Desgagnés, M., Galbraith, P., Gauthier, J., Nozères, C., Senay, C., Scallon-Chouinard, P.-M. et Smith, A. 2018. Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2017 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Research document. 2018/036. iv + 90 p.

Bourdages, H., et Marquis, M.C. 2014. Assessment of Northern Shrimp stocks in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2013: commercial fishery data. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Research document. 2014/051. iv + 90 p.

DFO. 2006. A Harvest Strategy Compliant with the Precautionary Approach. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Science advisory report. 2006/023.

DFO. 2008. Turbotiers de la Gaspésie et de la Haute et Moyenne-Côte-Nord - Coûts et revenus 2004-2006, Direction régionale des politiques et de l’économique, Québec.

DFO. 2018. Assessment of Greenland Halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2016. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Science advisory report. 2017/049.

DFO. 2018. Assessment of the Greenland Halibut stock in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2017. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Science advisory report. 2018/035.

DFO. 2018. Update of stock status indicators for Greenland Halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2017. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Science response. 2018/004.

DFO. 2019. Assessment of the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) Greenland Halibut stock in 2018. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Science advisory report 2019/023.

Dominguez-Petit, R., Ouellet, P. and Lambert, Y. 2012. Reproductive strategy, egg characteristics and embryonic development of Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides). ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi.10.1093/icesjms/fss180.

Dupont-Prinet, A., Vagner, M., Chabot, D., et Audet, C. 2013. Impact of hypoxia on the metabolism of Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 70: 461 - 469.

Fuller, S.D., Picco, C., Ford, J., Tsao, C., Morgan, L.E., Hangaard, D., Chuenpagdee, R. 2008. How we fish matters: addressing the ecological impacts of Canadian fishing gear. Ecology Action Centre. Halifax (N.-S.).

Galbraith, P.S., Chassé, J., Caverhill, C., Nicot, P., Gilbert, D., Pettigrew, B., Lefaivre, D., Brickman, D., Devine, L., and Lafleur, C. 2017. Physical Oceanographic Conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2016. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Research document. 2017/044. v + 91 p.

Mecklenburg, C.W., A. Lynghammar, E. Johannesen, I. Byrkjedal. J.S. Christiansen, A.V. Dolgov, O.V. Karamushko, T.A. Mecklenburg, P.R. Møller, D. Steinke, and R.M. Wienerroither. 2018. Marine Fishes of the Arctic Region. Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna, Akureyri, Iceland. ISBN: ISBN 978-9935-431-69-1.

Ouellet, P., Bui, A. O.V et Bernier, B. 2011. Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides Walbaum, 1792) early stage distribution in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. J. Northw. Atl. Fish. Sci. 43: 121–129.

Savard, L., Gauthier, J., Bourdages, H., et Desgagnés, M. 2013. Bycatch in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Northern shrimp fishery. Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). Research document. 2012/151. ii + 56 p.

Stortini, C.H., Chabot, D. and Shackell, N.L. 2016. Marine species in ambient low-oxygen regions subject to double jeopardy impacts of climate change. Global Change Biology (2016), doi: 10.1111/gcb.13534.

¹ Equivalent to 65 feet.

² The fish are generally gutted, headed and frozen.

³ An Indigenous enterprise has been active in the competitive fishing regime, with an ITQ.

4 Usually without the skin.

5 Headed or not.

6 This measure exceeds DFO's limits and mandates and is the responsibility of MAPAQ.

7 This measure is beyond DFO's limits and mandates and is the responsibility of MAPAQ.

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