4VWX5 groundfish - Maritimes Region

Foreword

The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the multispecies groundfish fishery in the Maritimes Region, as well as the tactics that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to staff of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), legislated co-management boards and other stakeholders and rights holders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

Through IFMPs, DFO Maritimes Region intends to implement an Ecosystem Approach to Management (EAM) across all marine fisheries. The approach considers impacts extending beyond those affecting the target species and, in this respect, is consistent with the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Implementation will take place in a step by step, evolutionary way, building on existing management processes. Advances will be made incrementally, beginning with the highest priorities and issues that offer the greatest scope for progress. A summary of the regional EAM framework is included as Appendix 1 to the IFMP.

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

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


Signed: Regional Director, Fisheries Management, Maritimes Region

Table of Contents

1. List of abbreviations and acronyms
2. Overview of the fishery
3. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge
4. Social, cultural and economic importance of the fishery

 

5. Management issues
6. Generic groundfish objectives, strategies and tactics
7. Access and allocation
8. Compliance plan
9. Monitoring, evaluation and plan enhancement
10. Safety at sea
11. Glossary
12. References
Appendices
Tables
Figures

1. List of abbreviations and acronyms

2. Overview of the fishery

2.1 History

Groundfish has been an important component of the Canadian fishing industry. Harvesting species such as cod, haddock, pollock, redfish, hake and other species has been an important fishery for many communities in the Maritimes Region for centuries. 

The 1950’s and 1960’s was a period of investment in the groundfish industry which promoted exploratory fishing, new technology and the construction of new vessels and processing plants. For the entire Atlantic Regions, large trawlers from major fishing corporations were harvesting on the offshore banks. These offshore vessels were harvesting large numbers of cod, flounder, haddock, pollock and redfish.

In the Maritimes Region (Figure 1), trawlers and other smaller fishing vessels were providing large quantities of groundfish to local processing. There was enough groundfish going through these plants to support year-round employment for several hundred people (Gough, 2007).

Map of Scotia Fundy sector, Maritimes region
Figure 1: Scotia-Fundy Sector, Maritimes Region

The resource was facing pressure from a combination of Canadian and foreign fishing in the 1970’s. Large quantities of groundfish were being caught by offshore trawlers and their satellite vessels, processing and freezing the product onboard. In 1977, Canada extended its jurisdiction from 12 nautical miles to 200 nautical miles from the coast. Foreign vessels could now only enter Canadian waters under a Canadian licence to harvest resources deemed to be surplus to the needs of the Canadian fishery. Some foreign access to silver hake continued through the1990s under national allocations and through foreign vessel charter agreements.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has regulated the groundfish fisheries off the coasts of Atlantic Canada since extension of fisheries jurisdiction on January 1, 1977. The first groundfish fishing plan was announced by the then Minister, the Honourable Romeo LeBlanc, on December 21, 1976. A policy of "best use", defined by the sum of net social benefits derived from the fisheries and associated industries (Environment Canada, 1977) provided guidance for this and subsequent plans. A central element of this policy was to harvest the resource at a fishing mortality rate no greater than F0.1. Total allowable catch (TAC) controls, which were already in widespread use by the International Commission for Northwest Atlantic Fisheries, were retained as the primary method for control of exploitation rate. Subsequent annual plans introduced ever greater sub-allocations of TACs to interest groups defined predominantly by vessel length and gear used. Limited entry licensing, first introduced for the large trawler fleet in 1973, was extended to all groundfish vessels in 1976. The Sector Management Policy that restricted inter-regional mobility of inshore vessels was introduced in 1982.

A further policy review (Kirby, 1982) was conducted in 1982 in response to a financial crisis in the industry and proposed new objectives of economic viability, maximization of employment and Canadianization. Support provided by the report for the introduction of quasi-property rights in the groundfish fishery was particularly influential. The initial allocation of quotas to large fishing companies, termed Enterprise Allocations (EAs), was extended to the entire <100’ groundfish fleet in 1984 and to both the mobile (MG) and fixed gear (FG) 65’-100’ fleets in 1988.

Catching capacity of inshore fleets continued to increase and this, in combination with declines in stock abundance in the late 1980s, precipitated another crisis and prompted the establishment of a regional task force. The main recommendations of the ensuing Report of the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Task Force (DFO, 1989) focused on improvements to fleet management and led, in 1991, to introduction of quasi-property rights for the MG <65’ fleet. In recognition that an efficient and timely means of monitoring landings was an essential feature of an individual transferable quota (ITQ) system, the Department introduced the Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) to verify and report landings on a timely basis.

A rapid collapse of groundfish stocks in the early 1990s required closure of most groundfish fisheries east of Halifax and the introduction of large-scale financial support and retraining programs for fishermen. On the basis of recommendations from the Task Force on Incomes and Adjustment in the Atlantic Fishery (DFO, 1993) a policy to reduce groundfish harvesting capacity on the Atlantic Coast through licence buyouts was adopted. By 1993 other measures were also implemented such as restrictions on vessel replacements such that fish harvesters who were replacing a vessel between 35’ – 65’ could only replace it with one that matched the original length or cubic number (volume).

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada released a decision in R. v. Sparrow. In this landmark decision, the Court provided meaning and context to the Constitution Act, 1982, section 35(1) and held that, after conservation and other “valid legislative objectives,” Aboriginal rights to fish for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes have priority over all other uses of the fishery. Through the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, DFO provides a framework for the management of FSC fishing by Aboriginal peoples. Agreements are negotiated, and the Minister or delegate issues a communal licence to reflect the agreement reached. Where an agreement is not reached, the Minister issues a communal fishing licence consistent with the provisions of Sparrow and subsequent Supreme Court of Canada decisions.

The Supreme Court of Canada, in the September 17, 1999 R. v. Marshall Decision, affirmed a Treaty right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a moderate livelihood, stemming from Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761. In response to the Supreme Court Decision, DFO implemented the Marshall Response Initiative in 2000 and negotiated Fisheries Agreements with most of the First Nations in the Scotia-Fundy region. This program provided increased First Nations access to the commercial fishery on an immediate basis. This initiative was subsequently extended to 2007 in order to fulfill DFO’s commitments.

Inshore fixed gear licence holders in the Region fished under competitive quotas until 1996, when an experimental community quota system was introduced. Within each community, management boards are responsible for distribution of catch allocations and development of in-season management plans. This arrangement was extended annually for 1997 and 1998 and then for an indefinite period. In 1998, a new fleet was created when the FG 45’-65’ licence holders separated from the FG <45’ licence holders and established an ITQ system.

2.1.1 Georges Bank (NAFO 5Z)

Georges Bank historically was a key international, multi-species groundfish fishery. The fisheries on Georges Bank fell under the mandate of the International Commission for the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries in 1949. The Commission coordinated stock evaluations and was also involved with management. However, with the declaration of exclusive economic zones by coastal states, only the US and Canada have conducted fisheries for groundfish on Georges Bank since 1977.

The declaration of exclusive economic zones by the US and Canada in 1977 gave rise to conflicting interest, with both nations claiming a disputed zone on eastern Georges Bank. Negotiations resulted in the proposed East Coast Fisheries Bilateral Agreement in 1979. Dissatisfaction with the terms of the agreement led to intense lobbying by fishing interests and, while both sides had signed the agreement, it was never ratified. The US and Canada agreed to refer the boundary dispute to the International Court of Justice. In October 1984, the Court delivered its judgment and the international maritime boundary between the US and Canada was established; this boundary is commonly referred to as the Hague Line.

Eastern Georges Bank cod, Eastern Georges Bank haddock and Georges Bank yellowtail flounder are transboundary resources managed collaboratively with the United States (US). The eastern Georges Bank management unit is Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Division 5Zjm (Figure 2). For Georges Bank yellowtail flounder, the management unit is all of Georges Bank (Division 5Zhjmn).

Figure 2 – Georges Bank (5Z) with statistical areas.
Figure 2: Georges Bank (5Z) with statistical areas
Description

Map of Georges Bank (5Z) with statistical areas. The red (bolded) line outlines the management area for eastern Georges Bank cod and haddock, while the management area for yellowtail flounder also includes 5Zh and 5Zn.

2.2 Type of fishery

The groundfish fishery is predominantely a commercial fishery; however, there are also recreational and FSC components to the fishery as well as a small amount harvested as broodstock for aquaculture.

All groundfish stocks caught in the commercial fishery are accounted for under either a TAC or a bycatch limit. All major stocks not under moratorium are under EAs, ITQs or community quotas, while those that are incidental to the commercial fishery or under moratorium are managed under bycatch limits which are expressed as either a percentage of the catch or a cap on landings (described more fully in Appendix 16). A small directed fishery for Longhorn sculpin takes place in St. Mary’s Bay for about 7 weeks each spring and is effort-limited.

Aboriginal FSC fishing is a cultural and sustenance activity. DFO seeks to negotiate agreements for Aboriginal fishing for FSC purposes. Through these agreements, licences are issued outlining the locations, methods, gear types, time frame and other conditions for the FSC fishery. The resources fished through a FSC licence are used communally to provide food for members of the First Nations community or Aboriginal group and to support their traditional social and ceremonial activities.

Recreational fishing for groundfish species is a popular activity for both residents and non-residents of the Maritimes Region and this activity is permitted without a licence under Section 15 of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985. Recreational fishing is subject to seasons and bag limits under Section 91 of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985. Current restrictions in place are described here.

2.3. Participants

2.3.1 Commercial

There were 2,491 groundfish licences issued in the Maritimes Region in 2015/16; overall participation by these licences is low.  Table 1 outlines the number of licences issued and the number of those licences that reported landings in 2015/16, by fleet sector, as well as the quota allocation scheme for each fleet sector. Fleet shares are available here.

Fleet authorized

Traditionally, licences for vessels less than 65’ are referred to as “inshore” licences, while licences for vessels 65’-100’ are referred to as “midshore” licences and licences for vessels greater than 100’ are referred to as “offshore” licences ( 1). However, it should be noted that in Maritimes Region, all fleets largely operate in the same areas, with exception that mobile gear vessels operating on midshore or offshore licences are not permitted to fish within the Territorial Sea of Canada as defined in the Oceans Act (generally the area within 12nm of shore).

The three fleets authorized to operate vessels 65’ and larger are the midshore mobile gear fleet (MG 65’-100’), the midshore fixed gear fleet (FG 65’-100’) and the offshore fleet (>100’), which uses both mobile gear and fixed gear. These licences fish a mixture of Enterprise Allocations and competitive allocations and are authorized to fish Atlantic-wide. A total of 25 of these licences are issued to companies based in Maritimes Region; 15 reported landings during the 2015/16 fishing season.

Table 1: Groundfish licences by fleet sector for 2015/2016
Licence Type Fleet Sector Allocation Scheme Licences1,2 Active Licences3 Fishing Area
Inshore Fixed Gear
<45'
Community
Quotas
2,099 439 4T, 4Vn,
4VsW, 4X5Y
Fixed Gear
45'-65'
Individual
Transferable
Quotas
57 37 3NO, 4VWX5
Mobile Gear
<65'
Individual
Transferable
Quotas
299 69 4VWX5
Aboriginal
MG
Enterprise
Allocation
11 3 4VWX5
Midshore Fixed Gear
65'-100'
Enterprise
Allocations
4(10) 2 Atlantic-wide
Mobile Gear
65'-100'
Enterprise
Allocations
6 (10) 5 Atlantic-wide  
Offshore >100' fleet Enterprise
Allocations
15 (25) 8 Atlantic-wide

¹Source: LS4045A – Scotia-Fundy Commercial Licence Summary
²Licences in brackets are the total number of Atlantic-wide licences in this fleet sector.
³Licences with reported landings (preliminary) in the Maritimes Region during the 2015/16 fishing season.

Description

Scotia-Fundy Commercial Licence Summary

In some cases, inshore licences based in one region are authorized to also fish in another region. This may require the development of a Conservation Harvesting Plan that is approved by both regions.

a) Fixed gear <45' fleet

The FG < 45’ fleet is managed under a community management approach, with the regional fleet subdivided into 7 geographic community groups. This approach was first introduced in 1995 on a trial basis. By 1997, Community Management Boards were introduced for the entire FG <45’ fleet. These Boards are run by industry associations within the communities allowing for the community to create solutions to problems in fish management and to develop conservation harvesting plans addressing seasonal fishing patterns.

The 7 community groups are:

Community Management Boards develop, implement and monitor fishing plans. The boards develop management approaches that apply to the species harvested by the < 45’ fleet; mainly halibut, as well as cod, haddock and pollock in the NAFO 4X5Y area. Some Boards establish seasonal quotas and industry monitored trip limits. They are also responsible for monitoring bycatch, particularly for depleted species. The allocation of the TAC among the community groups was determined mainly based on the catch history and is treated as set shares. Limited temporary transfer of quota between Management Boards is allowed.

In 2008, part of the Shelburne B Community Management Board received approval to establish an industry-run ITQ program, in which individual shares are determined and maintained by the Board rather than DFO. Permanent and temporary transfers are processed by the Management Board.

The Operational Guidelines for Community Management in the Scotia-Fundy Fixed Gear Less Than 45’ Sector (DFO Maritimes Region, December 1998) describe the Community Management system in more detail (Appendix 17).

Licence holders who do not wish to fish through a Community Management Board, or who have not been accepted as members of a Board, can apply to DFO to fish through DFO’s competitive fishing plan, known as Group X (see Appendix 22).

b) Fixed gear 45' - 65' fleet

Groundfish licence holders from Nova Scotia that harvested on vessels between 45’and 65’ in length utilizing fixed gear (longlines and gillnets) established an ITQ program in 1997; licence holders from SWNB joined the ITQ program in 1998. This fleet has full ITQs for cod, haddock and pollock in 4X5 and halibut in 3NOPs4VWX5. All other species that are not managed under ITQs within this fleet are harvested under bycatch restrictions.

The FG 45’ – 65’ fleet is permitted to operate throughout NAFO areas 4VWX5. While the fleet primarily directs for Atlantic halibut, they are also permitted to direct for cod, haddock and pollock in 4X5Y and 5Z. This fleet can also request a licence condition amendment authorizing fishing for halibut in 3NO, including outside of Canadian waters in the NAFO Regulatory Area (NRA). Fishing in the NRA involves special reporting requirements and conditions of licence.

c) Mobile gear <65' fleet

The MG < 65’ fleet are restricted to vessels under 65’ in length, which utilize mobile gear, usually otter trawl, but also including midwater trawls and Danish and Scottish Seines. Since 1991, the fleet has been operating under an ITQ management system. In recent years, this fleet has become more integrated with the midshore and offshore fleets in the Maritimes Region, with many enterprises owning licences in more than 1 fleet. Currently, the MG <65’ fleet catches the largest volume of groundfish in the Maritimes Region, roughly 70% by volume in 2016/17. The main target species are haddock in 4X5Y and 5Z, pollock in 4X5, silver hake in 4VWX and Unit 2 and 3 redfish.

d) Aboriginal mobile gear fleet

The Aboriginal MG fleet had their beginnings in the MG < 65’ fleet, but was established as a separate fleet after the 1999 R. v. Marshall Decision. This fleet features licences restricted to vessels under 65’, utilizing mobile gear to harvest groundfish. The fleet operates under an EA system, meaning that different vessels can be used to fish the same licence. The Aboriginal MG fleet fishes under the MG <65’ Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) with very similar licence conditions and can do temporary or permanent (subject to approval) quota transfers with the MG <65’ fleet.

e) Fixed gear 65' - 100' fleet

The FG 65’ – 100’ groundfish fleet consists of licence holders that are authorized to operate vessels up to 100’ in length, fishing Atlantic-wide. In Maritimes Region, the fleet is only authorized to fish with longlines, though gillnets maybe used in other Regions. This fleet is managed under an EA system where allocations are fully transferable within the fleet, and temporary transfers are permitted with all other EA and ITQ licences. In the Maritimes Region, this fleet primarily targets Atlantic halibut.

f) Mobile gear 65' - 100'

The MG 65’ – 100’ groundfish fleet consists of licence holders that are authorized to operate vessels up to 100’ in length, fishing Atlantic-wide with otter trawls. It is managed under an EA system where allocations are fully transferable within the fleet, and temporary transfers are permitted with all other EA and ITQ licences. There are also a series of competitive and bycatch pools for some stocks. In the Maritimes Region, this fleet targets the same stocks as the MG <65’ fleet.

g) Offshore (>100') fleet

The offshore or >100’ groundfish fleet is authorized to fish vessels > 100’ in length. It is managed under an EA system where allocations are fully transferable within the fleet, and temporary transfers are permitted with all other EA and ITQ licences. The >100’ fleet licences are authorized for Atlantic-wide access. In the Maritimes Region, this fleet targets Atlantic halibut with longlines and the same stocks as the MG <65’ fleet with mobile gear. Under the Temporary Vessel Replacement Program (TVRP), the fleet may fish with vessels <100’ in Maritimes Region.  

2.3.2 Aboriginal

In 2016/17 season there were 12 FSC licences issued to organizations to fish within the waters of the Maritimes Region for groundfish.

2.3.3. Recreational

The management of the recreational fishery is a shared responsibility between DFO and the Provinces. Participants in the recreational groundfish fishery are not required to report and there is no licence requirement; the number of active participants is not known. The recreational groundfish fishery is divided into 2 groups (Eastern Nova Scotia; and South-western Nova Scotia and South-western New Brunswick) with the following management measures:

2.3.4. Aquaculture

DFO continues to support the research and development of the aquaculture sector. Under the Access to Wild Resources as it Applies to Aquaculture Policy, the Department will provide the aquaculture industry with reasonable access to the wild groundfish resource to assist industry development (growth and diversification). Requests to access the wild resource will be contingent upon stakeholders providing detailed project proposals for review and approval by the Department.

Currently a small amount of Atlantic halibut broodstock collection takes place annually in the Maritimes Region.

2.4. Location of the fishery

The Maritimes Region extends from Cape North to the Canada-USA border and includes Sydney Bight, the Scotian Shelf, the Bay of Fundy and those parts of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank that are in Canada's Exclusive Economic Zone (NAFO Divisions 4VWX and the Canadian part of Subarea 5, Figure 1). Groundfish stocks are generally defined by NAFO Divisions, however, there are some exceptions; further information on management areas for each stock is included in the relevant appendices.

Further detail on recent distribution of groundfish catches may be found in the Maritimes Region Fisheries Atlas: Catch Weight Landings Mapping (2010-2014).  (S. Butler and S. Coffen-Smout, 2017).

Detailed information on the location of fishing for different target species is generally available in stock assessments, see references in appendices 7-15.

2.5. Fishery characteristics

The commercial groundfish fishery in Maritimes Region is prosecuted by licence holders using mobile gear (e.g. otter trawl), baited hook and line (i.e. longline and handline) and gillnets fishing a variety of target species (Table 2). Fleet sectors are defined based on gear type and vessel size (described in Section 2.3).

Table 2: Directed groundfish fisheries and common bycatch-only stocks
  Directed fishery Moratorium By-catch only
Atlantic halibut 3NPOs4VWX5Z    
Cod 4X5Y / 5Ze 4VsW / 4Vn  
Cusk     4VWX5
Dogfish 4VWX5    
Flounder* 4VW / 4X5Y   5Ze
Haddock 4X5Y / 5Ze 4TVW  
Monkfish     4VWX5
Pollock 4VW / 4X5    
Redfish UNIT II, UNIT III    
Silver hake 4VWX5    
Skates     4VWX5
Sculpin St. Mary's Bay   elsewhere
White hake     4VWX5
Wolffish     4VWX5

*Rules for flounder vary by species, stock and area. See Appendix 13 for details.

The season for the three transboundary stocks on Georges Bank (Georges Bank yellowtail flounder and Eastern Georges Bank cod and haddock) runs from January 1 to December 31. The Georges Bank fishery is separated into US and Canadian management regimes. When fishing on Georges Bank, all Canadian vessels are required to hail out prior to departing on a fishing trip, to hail in upon return, and to carry Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) on board. All Canadian Georges Bank landings are monitored at the point of offloading by third-party dockside monitors. These monitors verify the weight and the species of fish offloaded. Detailed catch and effort information for every trip must be recorded in logbooks and submitted to DFO (via a dockside monitoring company).

All other groundfish stocks have a season that runs from April 1 to March 31. All fisheries are regulated by a TAC or quota cap at the fleet, Community Management Board, or individual level. All licence holders are required to hail out prior to departing on a fishing trip and to hail in upon return. Detailed catch and effort information for every trip must be recorded in logbooks and submitted to DFO (via a dockside monitoring company). The majority of these fisheries require VMS and dockside monitoring. Specific details on monitoring can be found in the CHPs governing the fleets (Appendices 19-22) and in Section 5.1.

2.6. Governance

2.6.1. Domestic legislation

DFO oversees Canada’s scientific, ecological, social and economic interests in oceans and fresh waters. That responsibility is guided by the Fisheries Act, which confers responsibility to the Minister for the management of fisheries, habitat and aquaculture and the Oceans Act (1996), which charges the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada with leading oceans management. The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans is also the competent Minister responsible for aquatic species at risk management and protection, pursuant to the Species at Risk Act (2002). All three Acts contain provisions relevant to fisheries management and conservation. However, the Fisheries Act is the Act from which the principal set of regulations affecting the licensing and management of fisheries flow. In the Atlantic, these include the Fishery (General) Regulations, the Atlantic Fishery Regulations1985 and the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. 

Groundfish licences are issued pursuant to the discretion of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans as per Section (7) of the Fisheries Act. The issuance of licence conditions is pursuant to section 22, Fishery (General) Regulations.

Regulations governing the groundfish fishery can be found in the Fishery (General) Regulations (last amended May 29, 2015) and the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985. These regulations form the foundation of the TAC and EA system and establish the fundamental rules under which the fishery may be governed, such as: i) variable closed times for groundfish stocks; ii) mandatory retention of groundfish when fishing under the authority of a groundfish licence unless authorized or required to return the catch to the water; iii) fishing seasons; and iv) licence conditions.

Variation orders are used to shorten or lengthen fishing season, as appropriate. Variation orders affecting the groundfish fleets are signed by the Regional Director-General, Maritimes Region of DFO and have the same effect as regulations. With some exceptions, variation orders can be applied to any fishing area or portion of a fishing area, and to any fleet, and in some instances individual enterprises or licence (through the use of vessel class designations).

The Fishery (General) Regulations provide DFO the authority to specify certain conditions in a fishing licence. For example, it is through the use of licence conditions that DFO is able to specify gear configurations, require fishing fleets to complete logbooks, use VMS, hail out/in and to utilize approved independent third parties (ie, DMP) to verify landings.

2.6.2. Domestic licensing and conservation policies

The management of the commercial fisheries is governed by a suite of policies related to the granting of access, economic prosperity, resource conservation and traditional Aboriginal use. Information on these can be found on the DFO website. Notable policies include the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada 1996, and policies under the Sustainable Fisheries Framework, such as the Precautionary Approach Framework, Sensitive Benthic Area Policy and the Bycatch Policy.

The Sustainable Fisheries Framework provides the basis for ensuring Canadian fisheries are conducted in a manner which support conservation and sustainable use. It incorporates existing fisheries management policies with new and evolving policies. The framework also includes tools to monitor and assess those initiatives geared towards ensuring an environmentally sustainable fishery and identifies areas that may need improvement. Overall, the Sustainable Fisheries Framework provides the foundation of an ecosystem-based and precautionary approach to fisheries management in Canada.

2.6.3. Ecosystem approach to management

This management plan has been developed according to a framework for an ecosystem approach to management (EAM). The framework assists DFO with implementing departmental policies related to conservation and sustainable use, as well as with meeting obligations related to integrated management under the Oceans Act. The framework requires that fisheries management decisions reflect the impact of the fishery not only on the target species but also on non-target species, habitats and the ecosystems of which these species are a part. It also requires that decisions account for the cumulative effect of various ocean uses on the ecosystem. Additional information on the framework is included as Appendix 1 to this plan.

2.6.4. Advisory committee and working groups

The Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee (SFGAC) is the main consultative forum on groundfish issues, including total allowable catches, licensing policies and management measures. In addition, the MG <65’ fleet sector and the FG <45’ fleet sector have established advisory processes to provide advice to the Department on issues that impact upon their fleet. The Terms of Reference for these groups can be found in the Appendices 2 - 3. Given the Atlantic-wide nature of the licences, the midshore and offshore fleet sectors are consulted at the national level or through regional advisory committees, as appropriate.

The Gulf of Maine Advisory Committee (GOMAC) is a forum wherein representatives of the fishing industry and governments can jointly develop and provide advice on matters pertaining to Gulf of Maine fisheries issues. For three transboundary groundfish stocks in NAFO Division 5Z, the Gulf of Maine Advisory Committee (GOMAC) is the primary advisory body to the Department on issues related to total allowable catch and other fisheries management measures (see Appendix 4 for Terms of Reference).

The Courts have affirmed on several occasions that there must be negotiations and discussions with First Nations and Aboriginal groups concerning the accommodation of their Aboriginal and treaty rights. Advisory committees for this fishery include members of each of the First Nations and Aboriginal groups involved in the FSC fishery, recreational fishery and/or commercial fishery. DFO also consults directly with rights holders and their representatives.

2.6.5. Regional science advisory process

The Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat (CSAS), through the Regional Advisory Process (RAP), provides science advice on the status of the stocks. Industry participates in the peer review of stock assessments. The science advice is a primary input for the consultations on management of the fishery at the advisory committee. Science advisory documents are available from the DFO CSAS website.

Most groundfish stocks in the Maritimes Region are now assessed on a multi-year schedule, with framework meetings (which review the approach to assessing the stock, including inputs) occurring every 3 to 5 years and stock assessments (which apply the approach adopted at the framework) every 2 to 5 years. During the interim years between assessments, updates are provided periodically, often annually for important commercial stocks. Updates are subject to an internal DFO peer review and may produce catch advice or simply provide the most recent information available from surveys and other indices.

2.6.6. Approval process

Recommendations and advice to DFO on the management of the groundfish fishery are provided through the advisory committee. While operational decisions are made within the Maritimes Region Fisheries Management Branch, decision-making on total allowable catch levels, complex issues related to access and allocations, changes to licensing policy, or issues related to international agreements will be elevated to the Regional Director-General or the Minister.

Evergreen Integrated Fisheries Management Plans (IFMPs) are developed by DFO in consultation with the fishing industry, provincial and territorial governments, First Nations and Aboriginal groups, advisory bodies and other interested stakeholders and partners. Generally, significant revisions to the IFMP should be provided in writing prior to advisory committee meetings so that Aboriginal and industry representatives have a reasonable time to respond. Approval of the IFMP is at the level of Regional Director of Fisheries Management for the Maritimes Region.

CHPs (Appendices 19-25) outline seasonal fishing plans in more detail than the IFMP. The CHP reflects the agreement between DFO and industry on issues related to bycatch, monitoring and any voluntary measures, for example. For the FG<45’ fleet each Management Board submits a CHP that is valid for the group, in addition to the fleet-wide CHP. Fleets with regional or Atlantic-wide access have CHPs which require annual updates as well. Atlantic-wide CHPs for the midshore and offshore fleets are available upon request.

3. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

3.1. Aboriginal traditional knowledge/traditional ecological knowledge

All cultures have traditional knowledge. In this broad context, Aboriginal traditional knowledge (ATK) can be viewed as knowledge that is held by, and unique to, Aboriginal peoples. ATK can offer a unique understanding of species, their local environment, and the characteristic ecological relationships between these. In light of this, DFO aims to incorporate ATK into fisheries management planning.

3.2. Precautionary approach

In resource management, the precautionary approach is, in general, about being cautious when scientific information is uncertain, unreliable or inadequate and not using the absence of adequate scientific information as a reason to postpone or fail to take action to avoid serious harm to the resource.

The United Nations Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks, which came into force in 2001, commits Canada to use the precautionary approach in managing straddling stocks as well as, in effect, domestic stocks. In 2003, the Privy Council Office, on behalf of the Government of Canada, published a framework applicable to all federal government departments that set out guiding principles for the application of precaution to decision making about risks of serious or irreversible harm where there is a lack of full scientific certainty.

Subsequent to these commitments, in 2009 DFO developed A Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach, which applies where decisions on harvest strategies or harvest rates for a stock must be taken to determine total allowable catch or other measures to control harvests. The framework applies to key harvested stocks managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada - that is, those stocks that are the specific and intended targets of a fishery, whether in a commercial, recreational or subsistence fishery. In applying the framework, all removals of these stocks from all types of fishing must be taken into account.

The following are the primary components of the generalized framework:

Reference points delineating the stock status zones, as well as a removal reference, are unique to each groundfish stock. These points, where available, are outlined in the stock-specific appendices of this IFMP. The harvest strategy and harvest decision rules for all key groundfish species are outlined in the Objectives, strategies and tactics section of the IFMP (Section 6), with species-specific information available in the appendices, while uncertainty and risk has been taken into consideration throughout the development of the plan.

3.3. Transboundary assessment

After 1977, the US and Canada used national institutions for stock evaluation of Georges Bank stocks. The analyses were supported by exchanges of respective fishery and scientific information as well as complementary participation in the review processes. This cooperation culminated in the formation of the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC) to provide non-binding guidance to the 2 parties. The TRAC is the scientific arm of the TMGC; the TRAC is the forum for joint science advice and conducts the peer-review of the status of transboundary resources considered by the TMGC (Eastern Georges Bank cod, Eastern Georges Bank haddock and Georges Bank yellowtail flounder). The most recent information is available at the Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee website.

3.4. Research

3.4.1. Research vessel surveys

DFO has conducted the summer research vessel (RV) survey in the Maritimes Region, NAFO Divisions 4VWX and a small portion of 5Y, using a standardized protocol since 1970. Since 2011, DFO has also been including some coverage of 5Z in the summer RV survey and plans to continue and expand this in the future. The Georges Bank (5Z) Winter RV survey has been conducted annually using a standard stratification since 1987. Results of these surveys provide information on trends in abundance for most groundfish species in the Maritimes Region. Historically, there have sometimes been other RV surveys carried out at different times of year in some areas.

The summer RV survey includes both hydrographic sampling and sampling of fish and invertebrates using a bottom otter trawl. These survey data are the primary data source for monitoring trends in species distribution, abundance and biological condition within the region, and also provide data to the Atlantic Zonal Monitoring Program for monitoring hydrographic variability.

The summer RV survey was originally planned to provide biomass and abundance trends for groundfish residing at depths from about 50 m to 400 m; it was later extended to cover depths down to 750 m in 1996. Survey indices are expected to be proportional to biomass and abundance for most species. The distribution of some species, however, such as cusk and Turbot, may not be fully covered by the survey. Biomass and abundance trends for these species may only provide indication of direction of change over time. For all these species, other biological information, such as length and weight, are still relevant.

The net used in the survey and vessel conducting the survey were changed in 1982 and 1983, along with some changes in data collection protocols. Collection of data on invertebrates caught in the survey was increased in 2007; before that date many invertebrates were not recorded. Conversion factors were derived for some species. For other species, these changes may affect the comparability of biomass trends before and after these changes in an unknown manner.

3.4.2. Halibut longline survey

While the DFO summer RV survey provides a useful index of abundance for incoming halibut recruitment, it does not provide an index of exploitable biomass (≥81 cm total length) since larger fish are captured infrequently. An industry-DFO longline halibut survey on the Scotian Shelf and southern Grand Banks (3NOPs4VWX5Zc) was initiated in 1998 to better estimate adult biomass. A commercial index is conducted in conjunction with the fixed-station portion of the halibut survey. The longline halibut survey provides an index for exploitable biomass of halibut from the Scotian Shelf and southern Grand Banks. The commercial index provides data on the population size structure. This survey is also used as the basis for monitoring the status of cusk in 4VWX5 as well.

3.4.3. Sentinel surveys

The 4Vn sentinel survey has been undertaken since 1994, and is organized and carried out by the 4Vn Sentinel Fishery Association. This survey utilizes longline gear and fishes in the fall, to provide an alternative index for main groundfish species in this area.

The 4VsW sentinel survey has been undertaken since 1995, organized by the Fishermen and Scientists Research Society. In recent years the sampling effort has been reduced substantially.

3.4.4. Use of fish agreements for Maritimes Region groundfish stocks

In 2012, the Fisheries Act was amended to provide the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans with the authority to set aside a fish allocation for the purpose of financing a science or fisheries management activity that contributes to the proper management and control of the fisheries (often called “Use of Fish”). In the Maritimes Region, this provision is used to fund research activities which support stock assessment and management for three groundfish stocks. The DFO-industry halibut longline survey and other Atlantic halibut research are funded through an agreement with several halibut industry participants. The Unit 2 redfish survey is carried out by the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council under a multi-region Use of Fish agreement. Most recently, research on the feasibility of an acoustic index for pollock has been funded through a Use of Fish agreement for 4X5 pollock. 

4. Social, cultural and economic importance of the fishery

The commercial groundfish fishery in the Maritimes Region provides significant revenue to many fishing enterprises throughout the region, though the relative economic importance of groundfish in the region has changed since the Atlantic cod fishery closures and TAC reductions in the early 1990s. Groundfish represented 42% of the total landed value of all commercial fisheries in 1991 and recently represented 7% of the regional total in 2015p . During this period, total value of groundfish landed decreased by more than half of its 1991 value of $200 million to $91 million in 2015p (Figure 3). Since the mid-1990s, groundfish landings decreased from 86,000 t in 1996 to 43,000 t in 2015p, though the value of groundfish landed has been primarily supported by higher average prices and increasing quantity of halibut landed.

Figure 3: Maritimes Region groundfish landed quantity and values

Source: DFO, Zonal Interchange File Format (ZIFF) for 1990 to 2009 figures; DFO, Maritimes Region for 2010 to 2015p figures
Note: Figure includes all groundfish landings, including bycatch.

Description

Maritimes Region groundfish landed quantity and values. During this period, total value of groundfish landed decreased by more than half of its 1991 value of $200 million to $91 million in 2015p. Since the mid-1990s, groundfish landings decreased from 86,000 t in 1996 to 43,000 t in 2015p

Average landed prices vary by groundfish species and generally ranged between $0.70 per kilogram (kg) and $1.50 per kg in 2015p, though higher average prices are associated with some groundfish species such as cod and halibut. Halibut is the highest priced groundfish species in the region, with the average landed price increasing from about $5 per kg in 1990 to $14 per kg in 2015p.

In 2015p, less than 25% of the 2,517 groundfish licences issued in the region were active and average landed values per active licence varied substantially by groundfish fleet. Sixteen of the 25 licences issued amongst the midshore and offshore groundfish fleets were active and averaged about $868,000 in landed value per active licence, based on landings in Maritimes Region. The combined MG <65’ fleet and the Aboriginal MG fleet were issued a total of 313 licences, with 75 active licences averaging $500,000 in landed value per active licence. Thirty-five of the 57 licences issued in the FG 45’-65’ fleet were active and averaged $280,000 in landed value per active licence. The majority of groundfish licences were attributed to the FG <45’ fleet, in which 435 of the 2,122 issued licences were active and averaged $50,000 in landed value per active licence.

Since 2009, halibut and haddock have become the top 2 groundfish species in terms of annual regional landed value. The regional landings mix of groundfish species changed substantially since the early 1990s. In terms of regional landed value, halibut replaced haddock as the most important groundfish species since 2012. In 2015p, halibut and haddock landings and landed value reached 2,700 t worth $38 million and 17,500 t valued at $26 million, respectively. Figure 4 shows regional landed value by major groundfish species.

Figure 4: Maritimes Region groundfish landed value by species

Sources: DFO, ZIFF for 1990 to 2009 figures; DFO, Maritimes Region for 2010 to 2015p figures
Note: Figure includes all groundfish landings, including bycatch.

Description

Maritimes Region groundfish landed value by species

The relative significance of key groundfish species varies by groundfish fleet, largely due to different directed species and permanent quota allocations for each fleet. Table 3 indicates the proportion of each commercial groundfish species harvested by various Maritimes groundfish fleets in 2015p. For example, halibut accounted for 81% of the value of all groundfish landed by harvesters of the FG <45’ fleet, and halibut represented 99% of the value of all groundfish landed by harvesters of the FG 45’-65’ fleet.

Table 3: Percent value of groundfish species by fleet
Groundfish Fleet or
Groundfish Fleet Group
Halibut Haddock Silver hake Redfish Pollock Cod Other Groundfish species
FG < 45' 81% 3% 0% 0% 5% 8% 3%
FG 45'-65' 99% 0% 0% 0% 0% <1% <1%
MG < 65' and Aboriginal EA 3% 53% 16% 9% 8% 3% 8%
Greater than 65 fleets 39% 35% <1% 19% 4% 2% <1%

Source: DFO, Maritimes Region
Note: Fleet data may have been aggregated as required by confidentiality guidelines.

Prior to the Second World War, processed groundfish were generally of salted and dried forms. Recently, popular processed groundfish products are fresh, chilled or frozen groundfish, with some plants producing frozen fillets or blocks of fish. Salted and dried processing continues to take place, but in a reduced capacity, and is often sold to markets outside of Canada. Frozen groundfish is often sold in fillets or blocks for further processing outside the region. Fresh, chilled or frozen groundfish usually end up in North American restaurants, food-service and retail stores.

Groundfish exported from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick were collectively worth $155 million in 2015, with 81% shipped to the United States and the remaining destined for countries such as Spain and Vietnam.

5. Management issues

5.1 Fisheries issues

5.1.1. Bycatch

Groundfish are harvested as a multi-species groundfish fishery. Gear used to prosecute the fishery tends to capture a variety of groundfish species, whether they are the target of the fishery or not. CHPs indicate which species may be the target of a directed fishery and set out the measures that apply to non-target species (e.g. cusk, white hake and monkfish). All non-groundfish species must be returned to the water; with the exception of those species whose retention is specifically permitted within licence conditions (e.g. FG <45’and FG 45’-65’ licence holders may, within limits, retain all shark species except white shark).

Bycatch of groundfish species in other directed fisheries (e.g. cod and cusk in the lobster fishery) can be a management issue. The IFMP for those directed fisheries address the approaches to be used in dealing with a bycatch issue. In a few cases, a bycatch allocation to other non-groundfish fisheries has been made to cover unavoidable catch of groundfish (e.g. the Georges Bank Bycatch Reserve for the offshore scallop fleet, Section 5.1.8). These allocations are counted against the TAC for these stocks. Generally, DFO Science is moving towards considering all sources of fishing mortality during stock assessments.

Recognizing that bycatch is unavoidable, DFO has developed a Policy for Managing Bycatch. The policy will be implemented through Integrated Management Plans over time, according to national and regional priorities and resource availability. This policy has 2 objectives:

As a general rule, this policy applies to retained and non-retained bycatch. In other words, it applies to any retained species that the harvester was not licensed to direct for but is required or permitted to retain, and all non-retained catch, including catch released from gear and entanglements, whether alive, injured or dead, and whether of the target species or the non-target species. Table 2 identifies the groundfish species that have a directed fishery associated with them.

Therefore the Policy on Managing Bycatch specifically applies to cusk, monkfish, skates, sculpins, white hake and wolffish species, as well as some flatfish species, depending on the stock and area. Information is being collected on these species but the bycatch policy has not been fully incorporated into the groundfish IFMP at this time.

5.1.2 Hails

Catch monitoring within the commercial groundfish fishery has many components. All vessels are required to hail-out to the Department prior to departing on a fishing trip and are also required to hail-in from sea prior to returning to port. Hail-outs go through an automated voice recognition system, which enters information into DFO’s databases in real time. The hail-in is captured by a third-party, independent dockside monitoring company who records information on the vessel as well as the catch on board.

5.1.3. Fishery monitoring documents (logbooks)

All licence holders are required to complete Monitoring Documents (Logbooks) on all fishing trips. These documents are the primary source of information on fishing catch and effort on a set-by-set basis, and also include records of non-retained catch for some fisheries. The Weighout Slip portion records the verified weights of all species landed and is used for quota monitoring. In addition, licence holders are required to complete a Species at Risk logbook for every trip, unless it is indicated on the Monitoring Document that they have not interacted with any at-risk species.

5.1.4 Vessel monitoring

A majority of the commercial groundfish fleet is required to carry Vessel Monitoring Systems (VMS) on board when on a fishing trip. The VMS units transmit positional information to a communication service provider who, in turn, makes the information available to the Department. As of 2014, VMS is required on all EA and ITQ fleets, as well as licences in the Fixed Gear <45’ fleet authorized to use a vessel greater than 34’11’’, unless they are handline-only.

5.1.5. Catch monitoring

The majority of landings are monitored at the dockside point of offloading by dockside monitors. These monitors verify the weight and the species of fish offloaded. As of 2014, 100% of landings by the ITQ and EA fleets are monitored, as well as all landings from NAFO Divisions 4Vn and 5Z for the FG <45’ fleet. Specific details on the monitoring level for the remainder of the FG <45’ fleet may be found in the CHP (Appendix 22), as amended from time to time.

5.1.6. At-sea observers

The best estimates of incidental catch in the multi-species groundfish fishery are obtained using data collected by at-sea observers. However, given continuing low observer coverage within most groundfish fisheries in the Maritimes Region, it is not possible to generate precise estimates of incidental catch for most species. An exception is the Georges Bank haddock fishery, which has higher observer coverage (25-100%), allowing for estimation of incidental catch of commonly caught species by fleet sector.

To improve estimates of incidental capture of target and non-target groundfish, as well as non-groundfish species, improved at-sea catch monitoring/reporting is required. The Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee recently reviewed the performance of the at-sea observer coverage program and adopted a strategy to try to increase coverage in parts of the fishery that were below the stated targets. Table 4 provides the targets for at-sea observer monitoring for each fleet sector.

Table 4: At-sea observer coverage target levels (as of 2016, subject to change)
Fleet sector Coverage Target
FG < 45' groundfish 4Vn, 4T 5-10%
FG < 45' groundfish 4VsW 5-10%
FG < 45' groundfish 4X and 5Y 5-10%, and/or 1 observed day per 50t of cod, haddock, pollock quota
Groundfish 5Z 25-100% (highest in summer and winter)
FG 45' - 65' groundfish 5-10%
Groundfish <65' mobile 5-10%, except 10-20% in Unit 3 redfish
Midshore and offshore groundfish 5-10%
St. Mary's Bay sculpin 25%

5.1.7. Discarding

The disparity of low quotas for some species compared to the relatively high quotas for others may constrain the ability of industry to effectively harvest quotas. Along with low market values for some species, this may lead to discarding fish at sea, an activity which is not permitted under the Regulations. In some cases, enhanced at-sea monitoring may be required to detect this activity.

Given the high haddock quotas available and the constraints of a low cod quota on eastern Georges Bank, the possibility of cod discarding has been a concern. A process has been in place since 2006 to estimate the amount of cod that is illegally discarded on Georges Bank (Gavaris et. al. 2007). The process to estimate the illegal cod discards during the groundfish fishery is to compare the cod to haddock ratios on the observed trips to the ratio on the unobserved trips, for each fleet and quarter. If no discarding was taking place, the ratios would be expected to be similar. However, when they are significantly different, discarding is assumed to have taken place and an estimate is provided, which is then added on to the landings by the fleet. 

For some species, such as spiny dogfish and sculpins, discarding is permitted, but must be done in the manner that causes the least harm, and must be recorded in the logbook (if available). For other species, including northern and spotted wolffish, thorny skate and Atlantic halibut below 85cm, it is mandatory to return all catch to the water in the manner that causes the least harm. 

5.1.8. Georges Bank bycatch reserve

Recognizing that groundfish discards by the offshore scallop fishery were a significant source of fishery removals in 2006, Canada has set aside bycatch reserves from its share of the TACs to cover bycatch on Georges Bank. The reserves are 30% for yellowtail flounder, 12% for cod and 1.031% for haddock from Canada’s share. Mortality of discards of groundfish species in the offshore scallop fishery is expected to be 100% and therefore is treated as catch. An estimate is calculated for the entire fleet based on observed trips.

Since the initial implementation of the bycatch reserves, modifications to fishing practices and gear have reduced the estimated discards by the offshore scallop fleet. As a result, there have been end-of-year surpluses remaining in the reserve. In order to maximize the use of the Canadian allocation, in 2012 the Department implemented a midseason temporary reallocation through a Bycatch Reserve Redistribution Process.

Catch information from January 1st to June 30th is used for estimating discards and calculating the expected surplus, with an expectation that the redistribution would occur by September 15th. The redistribution to the groundfish fleet sectors is based on existing percentage shares, prorated to 100% with a further allocation to the appropriate level (e.g. ITQ, EA, management board).

Reconciliation from the bycatch reserve in following years will occur if estimated bycatch exceeded the initial amount in the reserve.

5.1.9. Stock rebuilding

Several groundfish stocks have experienced substantial productivity shifts over the course of the fishery. Body sizes, maturation, age structure, growth and condition factors have substantially shifted, complicating the use of past stock/recruitment observations to determine modern reference points. Some ecosystem-level research has suggested that historic overfishing of groundfish stocks has led to a shift in the structure and function of the Scotian Shelf ecosystem that has hampered groundfish recovery (DFO 2012d). Other research has suggested that predation (mainly from grey seals) is a key factor in preventing groundfish recovery, particularly in the Eastern Scotian Shelf and Gulf of St. Lawrence ecosystems (e.g. Sinclair et al 2015).

Supporting stock rebuilding for depleted groundfish stocks is a key management challenge for groundfish fisheries in the Maritimes Region. Recovery potential assessments for several groundfish species in the Region have shown a lack of stock recovery despite very low levels of fishing (DFO 2011a, 2011d; DFO 2016i; DFO 2017b). Coupled with high levels of natural mortality at older ages in many of these populations, many stocks are expected to continue to decline or stay at a low level for the short to medium term, even with very little fishing.   

5.2 Depleted species concerns

A number of marine species are considered to be at risk within Canada. Ensuring protection and promoting recovery of at-risk species is a national priority. To this end, Canada developed the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and a number of complementary programs to promote recovery and protection of species considered to be extirpated, endangered, threatened or of special concern under SARA or identified as such by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC). 

SARA includes prohibitions that protect endangered, threatened and extirpated species (Section 32), their residences (Section 33), and their critical habitat (Section 58). Provided specific criteria can be met, SARA allows activities that would otherwise be prohibited to proceed through the issuance of permits or agreements under Section 73 and 74 or through exemptions under Section 83(4). The recovery of species at risk involves the development and implementation of recovery strategies, action plans or management plans, and the protection of any critical habitat that has been identified as necessary for the survival or recovery of the species. For species listed as special concern, critical habitat is not identified, and the Section 32 prohibitions do not apply.

The Government of Canada has listed several species on Schedule 1 of the SARA. Within the Maritimes Region, the following are SARA-listed species for which there may be groundfish fishery interactions:

In accordance with Section 83(4) of SARA, groundfish licence holders are currently permitted to conduct their fishery, which may interact with the 2 wolffish species listed as threatened and the Leatherback Sea Turtle, under the condition that any animals incidentally captured be returned to the water in a manner that causes the least harm possible. This permission is provided and described in each species’ respective recovery strategy which may change over time. The SARA Registry contains up-to-date information. Mandatory prohibitions do not apply to species listed as special concern, therefore, licence holders do not need to receive SARA permits for fishery interactions with Atlantic wolffish or other special concern species. There are currently no activities permitted under Section 83(4) of SARA as they relate to the North Atlantic right whale, northern bottlenose whale or the white shark.

Most interactions with SARA listed species must be recorded in the Species at Risk logbook provided by DFO, or in the relevant section of the fishery monitoring document. Should additional species be listed under SARA this IFMP recognizes there will be a need to address potential impacts to these new species. Industry will be consulted as required to develop any necessary strategies to mitigate these impacts.

Once assessed by COSEWIC, if a decision is made not to list a species under SARA, DFO is required to develop an “alternative approach” to species conservation using other legislative or non-legislative tools. If the “alternative approach” includes incremental actions, a 5-year workplan must be developed as per the Species at Risk Act Listing Policy and Directive for Do Not List Advice.

Within the Maritimes Region, the following are COSEWIC assessed species for which there may be groundfish fishery interactions, but for which a SARA listing decision is pending:

Table
Species Population COSEWIC status Year
American plaice (Hippoglossoides platessoides) Maritime Threatened 2009
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) Southern Endangered 2010
Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) Laurentian South Endangered 2010
Basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) Atlantic Special Concern 2009
Cusk (Brosme brosme) Atlantic Endangered 2012
Porbeagle (Lamna nasus) Atlantic Endangered 2014
Acadian redfish (Sebastes fasciatus) Atlantic Threatened 2010
Deepwater redfish (Sebastes mentella) Gulf of St. Lawrence/ Laurentian Channel Endangered 2010
Roughhead grenadier (Macrourus berglax) Atlantic Special Concern 2007
Roundnose grenadier (Coryphaenoides rupestris) Atlantic Endangered 2008
Shortfin mako (Isurus oxyrinchus) Atlantic Threatened 2006
Smooth skate (Malacoraja senta) Scotian Special Concern 2012
Spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) Atlantic Special Concern 2010
Thorny skate (Amblyraja radiate) Atlantic Special Concern 2012
White hake (Urophycis tenuis) Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St Lawrence Threatened 2013
Winter skate (Leucoraja ocellata) Eastern Scotian Shelf and Newfoundland Endangered 2015

Further information on SARA can be obtained on the species at risk public registry website.

Further information on COSEWIC and assessed species

5.3 Oceans and ecosystem management considerations

Oceans management involves the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s oceans through leading and facilitating integrated and ecosystem approaches to management. Modern oceans management works to address a number of challenges, including protecting depleted, rare or unique species and their habitats (including critical habitat); conserving areas of natural biological diversity and high productivity; avoiding ecosystem alteration, degradation and habitat fragmentation and avoiding interruption of migration routes.

Maritimes Region delivers regional programs and services in support of DFO’s national mandate for Oceans Management and Fisheries Protection. Some Maritimes Region initiatives are described here.

The 1997 Oceans Act is the enabling legislation for Oceans Management. DFO’s Regional Oceans Plan describes the Department’s approach to ocean and coastal management in the Maritimes Region. The program’s goals are effective decision making, collaboration and engagement with multiple stakeholders and rights holders, supporting a spatial and temporal approach to planning and management, marine conservation and advancing an ecosystem approach to management.

Scientific information, Indigenous Traditional Knowledge and community knowledge can be used to identify areas or habitats that are ecologically and biologically significant as well as vulnerable to impacts from fishing activities. Once areas or habitats are identified, potential threats need to be assessed and those that are likely to cause serious or irreversible harm need to be managed or mitigated to the extent possible. Management measures could include promotion of industry ‘codes of best practice’ or adopting technologies that reduce the frequency or magnitude of the disturbances. Protection of areas or habitat could also include management measures that reduce disturbances through the introduction of temporal or spatial closures, such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) created under the Oceans Act and fisheries closures under the Fisheries Act.

An MPA is a clearly defined part of the ocean that is legally protected and managed for the long-term conservation of nature. MPAs established under the Oceans Act can be used to protect important sensitive or representative marine species, habitats and ecosystems. MPA regulations impose restrictions or special requirements on activities conducted within a defined area, and certain activities may be prohibited in all or part of an MPA depending on the impacts of those activities to the ecological features being protected. 

DFO has a mandate to lead the establishment a national network of MPAs. An MPA network is a collection of MPAs and other conserved areas that operate cooperatively to safeguard important marine ecological components and marine biodiversity as a whole. An MPA network plan is being developed for the Maritimes Region that will be used to guide future marine conservation work in the region. The network will include Oceans Act MPAs, certain closures under the Fisheries Act such as Sensitive Benthic Areas (see Section 5.5), and the marine components of other federal and provincial/territorial protected areas.

The draft MPA network plan for the Maritimes Region is scheduled to be released for consultation in 2017-18. This plan will build on existing conservation areas in the region, such as the Gully MPA, St. Anns Bank MPA and the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area. Establishment of new MPAs and other measures identified in the MPA network plan will occur over the long term, and each new area will require additional public consultation before any regulations are put into effect.

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.

To meet these targets, Canada is establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) and “other effective area-based conservation measures” (“Other Measures”), in consultation with industry, non-governmental organizations and other interested parties. An overview of these tools, including a description of the role of fisheries management measures that qualify as Other Measures is available here.

Specific management measures for groundfish fisheries have been identified to contribute to Canada’s marine conservation targets. More information on these management measures and their conservation objectives is provided in Sections 5.3.1, 5.3.2, 5.4.1 and 5.5 of this IFMP.

5.3.1. Gully marine protected area

The Gully marine protected area (MPA) is located near Sable Island, Nova Scotia and protects the largest underwater canyon in eastern North America. The Gully is home to a diversity of marine habitat and species, including corals and Northern bottlenose whales, which are listed as an endangered species under the SARA. The Gully MPA is closed to fishing with the exception of longlining for halibut and large pelagics which is permitted in Zones 2 and 3 of the MPA.

5.3.2. St. Anns Bank marine protected area

St. Anns Bank marine protected area was designated in 2017 and is located east of Cape Breton. The 4,364 km2 area encompasses most of St. Anns Bank, Scatarie Bank and a portion of the Laurentian Slope and Channel. This area has a variety of habitat types and a high diversity of fish species. It is an important habitat for species at risk (e.g., Atlantic wolffish), depleted species including several commercial species that are at low biomass levels (Atlantic cod, American plaice, white hake, redfish, witch flounder). It also contains sensitive ocean bottom habitats and species, such as corals and sponges and is a summer foraging area for the endangered leatherback turtle. Fishing using specific gear types is allowed in particular areas (zones) of the MPA if carried out in accordance with the Fisheries Act, the Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and their regulations. In zone 2, commercial or recreational fishing by means of a pot, trap, rod and reel, harpoon, bottom longline, handline, gill net or by diving is allowed. In zones 3 and 4, commercial or recreational fishing carried out by means of a pot, trap, rod and reel, harpoon, bottom longline or handline is permitted. As well, fishing, other than commercial fishing, that is authorized under the Aboriginal Communal Commerical Fishing Regulations is allowed in the MPA.

5.4 Fishery closures

5.4.1. Western/Emerald Banks conservation area (previously referred to as the haddock box)

The Emerald/Western Bank haddock juvenile nursery area in NAFO 4W (the haddock box) was created in 1987 and has been closed to all groundfish fishing activity (fixed and mobile) since 1993 (Figure 5). The intent of establishing the closure under the Fisheries Act was to protect juvenile haddock to allow the 4VW haddock stock to rebuild (Frank and Simon 1998). Fixed gear fishing was excluded from the closed area after a review indicated that fishing within the area with fixed gear had increased and therefore might be jeopardizing the purpose of the closure.

The closure contributes to regional productivity and habitat objectives for groundfish fisheries in the Maritimes Region (see Section 6), and remains in place for the foreseeable future. Given its long-term nature, this area also presents an opportunity to potentially contribute broader marine conservation goals.  DFO has recognized there may be benefits beyond the original conservation objectives of the haddock box, which may help address broader resource and ecosystem management components. As a result, this area is now described as the Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area.

In addition to quota-based management, DFO regularly employs measures intended to reduce catch of juvenile fish and increase their chances of surviving to maturity and contributing to stock productivity, including both ad hoc and permanent small-fish closures. Seasonal spawning closures are also widely used, and are in place for haddock in 5Z and 4X.

Primary objectives for the Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area are to:

Additionally, the site contributes to broader protected area network planning objectives by providing significant protection to a representative example of a shelf/bank ecosystem. The area contains the majority of the Emerald-Western-Sable Island Bank Ecologically and Biologically Significant Area identified in 2014 as a result of a variety of properties, including importance to a variety of regionally significant species (groundfish and others) and relatively high species diversity. As an area of relatively low activity on the Scotian Shelf, it can also act as a reference area for understanding the effects of fishing. In 2017, this area was determined to be an Other Effective Area Conservation-Based Measure which contributes to the Marine Protected Areas Network for the Scotian Shelf Bioregion.

State of knowledge

While overall fishing mortality for 4VW haddock is low, the Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area is expected to further reduce fishing mortality on this stock and increase survival of juveniles, as it covers a significant portion of the areas of high abundance for haddock in 4VW. The stock has been under moratorium since 1993 and is currently at some of the lowest levels observed since the mid-1970s.

Reviews of the effectiveness of the area have considered it likely that the closure provides, at a minimum, localized benefits to groundfish stocks other than haddock (O’Boyle 2011), such as American plaice and winter flounder (Frank et al. 2000). Ollerhead (2007) identified the area as an important spawning area for several groundfish species of regional importance including Atlantic cod, haddock and yellowtail flounder in 4VW, and it has been identified as including regionally important habitat for other species, including depleted species such as winter skate (DFO 2014a).

The closure of the directed haddock fishery in 4VW in 1993 and population-level changes in the growth and productivity of 4TVW haddock stock have made it difficult to assess the effects of the closure on survival of juvenile haddock or stock productivity (Frank et al. 2000, O’Boyle 2011), and direct assessment of benefits to other groundfish stocks has not been undertaken. Given the length of time since the last assessment of this management measure, DFO will consider the need for re-assessment of the area as part of the ongoing monitoring of the closure.

Map of Western-Emerald Banks conservation area
Figure 5: Western/Emerald Banks conservation area

5.4.2. Spawning closures

There is a regulated spawning closure for cod and haddock on Georges Bank that occurs annually from March 1 to May 31. Through licence conditions, this spawning closure has been extended to begin in early February. Originally, the closure date was selected using a protocol incorporating spawning condition from previous years with the goal of closing the fishery when 30% of the cod and haddock are in spawning condition. In 2010, a fixed date at end of the 5th week of the year was adopted to close the fishery, based on maturity data from previous years and consultation with the fishing industry.

There is also a regulated spawning closure on Browns Bank, originally established to protect haddock, annually from March 1 to May 31. Through licence conditions, this spawning closure has been extended to include the period from February 1 to June 15. The intent of the closure is to minimize disturbance during spawning in case such disturbance might negatively affect spawning success and to reduce capture during spawning aggregations, as part of suite of measures to limit overall exploitation.

5.4.3. Small fish closures

In addition to any temporary spatial closures to minimize catch of small fish that might be instituted on an ad hoc basis, 2 areas have been closed to fishing with “small mesh” gear, defined as mesh less than 130mm square (or 125mm square when directing for haddock on Georges Bank since 2015). Small mesh gear is used to direct for redfish or Silver hake. The Bowtie closure in 4X is a year-round closure to small mesh gear that was put in place in 1995, in response to high numbers of redfish under 20cm (DFO 1997).

In 2013, an area of 4X with persistently high levels of undersize (<22cm) redfish was identified (Figure 6). This area has been closed to redfish fishing (ie, fishing with small mesh) through annual Variation Orders since that time. Test fishing and other fishing undertaken when Variation Orders have elapsed has consistently shown high levels of small fish in this area. The boundaries of this closure may be modified in future if warranted by new information. 

Map of small mesh gear closures in 4X to reduce catch of undersized redfish.
Figure 6: Small mesh gear closures in 4X to reduce catch of undersized redfish. The green outline shows the Bowtie closure while the red outline shows a second closure adopted in 2013.

5.5 Benthic impacts

Bottom-contact fishing gear has impacts on benthic populations, communities, and habitats. The effects are not uniform, and depend on at least the specific features of the seafloor habitats, including the natural disturbance regime; the species present; the type of gear used; the methods and timing of deployment of the gear; and the frequency with which a site is impacted by specific gears. The history of human activities, especially past fishing, in the area of concern is also a key consideration.

In recent years, the Department has evaluated the impacts of different fishing gear on benthic habitats, populations and communities, as well as the potential impacts of other fishing gears on marine habitats and communities. A National Advisory Process was the forum for these discussions. Further information is available in the following Science Advisory Reports, available on the CSAS website:

Impacts of Trawl Gears and Scallop Dredges on Benthic Habitats, Populations and Communities SAR 2006/025

Potential Impacts of Fishing Gears (Excluding Mobile Bottom-Contacting Gears) on Marine Habitats and Communities SAR 2010/003

The severity of the impact on benthic communities and habitats of groundfish gear varies greatly depending on the amount of contact with the bottom, the location and scale of the fishery and how the gear is rigged, deployed and retrieved.

Since gear impacts are affected by factors such as the type of benthic communities over which they are fished, restricting bottom fishing from specific areas would reduce impact on particularly sensitive areas. Under the Fisheries Act, the Policy for Managing the Impacts of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas (SBAs) can be used to protect ocean-floor habitat. The purpose of the SBA Policy is to help manage fisheries to mitigate impacts of fishing on sensitive benthic areas or avoid impacts of fishing that are likely to cause serious or irreversible harm to sensitive marine habitat, communities and species. Areas that are identified as SBAs can be closed to some or all bottom-contact fishing gear under the Fisheries Act.

There are now 5 conservation areas within the groundfish fishing areas that have been identified as SBAs, described below. These areas impose restrictions on bottom-contact gear in order to protect benthic communities, with a focus on protecting vulnerable coral and sponge communities.

5.5.1. Northeast Channel coral conservation area

Along the boundary of the 4X and 5Zjm management units, a closure under the Fisheries Act was established in June 2002. The Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area is located off the coast of southwestern Nova Scotia, between Georges Bank and Browns Bank and covers an area of 424 km². The area was selected due to the high densities of octocorals, primarily bubblegum coral (Paragorgia arborea) and seacorn coral (Primnoa resedaeformis).

Within the boundaries of the Coral Conservation Area, there is a small area, approximately 10% of the entire closure, in which limited fishing activities are permitted. At this time, only longline fishing with an at-sea observer onboard is permitted within this area, located exclusively within 5Zjm. 

5.5.2. Lophelia coral conservation area

The Lophelia Coral Conservation Area, located at the mouth of the Laurentian Channel was established in 2004 following the discovery of the Lophelia pertusa reef structure during benthic surveys. The colony of L. pertusa is a rare cold-water coral species and the only known L. pertusa reef structure in Atlantic Canada falls within this conservation area. This reef building coral complex shows signs of damage from fishing gear, and recovery is expected to take decades. The closure area covers 15 km² and is closed to all bottom contacting fishing activities, including all groundfish fishing.  

5.5.3. Sponge conservation area: Sambro Bank and Emerald Basin

Two areas of high-densities of Vazella pourtalesi, commonly known as “Russian hat” sponges have been identified as SBAs at high risk from fishing impacts. These areas include a 62 km² area on the eastern edge of Sambro Bank and a 197 km² area between the southwest and northeast portions of Emerald Basin.   

5.5.4. Jordan Basin conservation area

In September 2016, a 49 km² conservation area was established in the eastern portion of Jordan Basin (within 4X). The closure captures 2 prominent bedrock ridges, including an outcrop called the “Rock Garden”. These features contain high densities of seacorn corals (Primnoa resedaeformis) and other sensitive filter feeding invertebrate communities.

5.5.5. Corsair and Georges Canyons conservation area

In September 2016, a 9,106 km² conservation area was established south of Georges Bank (within 5Z). This area is known to contain high densities of gorgonian corals, such as Paragorgia arborea, or bubblegum corals, as well as a wide variety of other coral species. The objective of this closure is the protection of these corals, as well as other deep-sea species and habitats that are known to be vulnerable to fishing impacts.

5.6. Licensing policy

The groundfish fishery is a limited-entry fishery; details on access to the fishery are more fully described in the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996, as amended from time to time.

5.6.1. Core enterprises

The Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996, first introduced the concept of Core enterprises which applied to all members of the inshore groundfish fleet. Under the Policy, most benefits were provided to the heads of Core enterprises and the only way to acquire a new vessel-based licence was to be the head of a Core enterprise or to acquire a complete Core package from an existing member, becoming the head of a Core enterprise in the process. To acquire a Core package, the individual must qualify as a new entrant as defined in the Licensing Policy. Core enterprise requirements apply in the FG <45’ fleet, but not in the other “exempted” fleets (see Section 5.6.2).

5.6.2. PIIFCAF and exempted fleets

In 2007, the Policy for Preserving the Independence of the Inshore Fleet in Canada’s Atlantic Fisheries (PIIFCAF) was introduced. The goal of the PIIFCAF Policy is to strengthen the owner-operator and fleet separation sections of the Licensing Policy to ensure that inshore fish harvesters remain independent, and that the benefits of fishing licences flow to the fisher and to Atlantic coastal communities. At the same time, an exemption was granted to PIIFCAF and the Core enterprise requirements for fleets that met established criteria. Based on the exemption criteria, all groundfish fleets other than FG <45’ are no longer subject to the PIIFCAF, owner-operator or fleet separation sections of the Policy.

Following the exemption of the groundfish ITQ/EA fleets in 2007, licences in these fleet sectors may now be issued to any Canadian citizen or permanent resident or to a company that is majority Canadian owned. Licence holders are no longer required to fish their licence personally and can hold more than 1 groundfish licence.

5.6.3. Harvest benefit combining

Harvest Benefit Combining, introduced to the FG < 45’ fleet in 2011, allows Independent Core licence holders to acquire the harvest benefits (i.e. licence areas, gear types and catch history) from another licence within the fleet which is relinquished at the time of combining.  This is a method to allow self-rationalization within the fleet and a means to adapt to the PIIFCAF policy.  With 1 exception, licences eligible for combining must be from within the same community management board and must be licences that are “transferable” per the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996. 

The sole exception is that licences from the Queens-Lunenburg Community Group may combine with a licence from the Shelburne Community Group to become a Shelburne Community Group licence, as of 2017. Both Management Boards must agree to the terms of this transfer on a case-by-case basis.

More information on Harvest Benefit Combining for the FG <45’ fleet is available from the DFO Maritimes Region Licensing Office.

5.6.4. Issuing licences to companies

The Policy on Issuing Licences to Companies came into effect on April 1, 2011, and provides flexibility for licences that are subject to PIIFCAF to be held under wholly owned companies, so long as the 100% controlling shareholder of the company meets the Independent Core eligibility criteria as defined in PIIFCAF.  

5.6.5. Vessel replacement rules

The vessel replacement rules specified in the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996have been amended as a result of several decisions made since 1996. The following is a list of the key changes:

In Maritimes Region (but not in other Atlantic Canadian DFO Regions), all fleets are eligible to use a smaller vessel than indicated by their licence category.

5.6.6. Sector Management Policy

The Sector Management Policy introduced in 1982 stated that inshore fishing vessels from the Maritimes Region would only be permitted to fish in the waters of NAFO Divisions 4VWX+5. In addition to this, the waters of NAFO Divisions 3NO were not covered under any sector; therefore, inshore vessels from any region may be authorized to fish in that area.

Authorized overlaps were granted to licences held by individuals in homeports in an adjacent sector. In the Maritimes Region, there are licences with authorized overlap privileges for 4T cod, for example. Authorized overlaps will, under the Sector Management Policy, expire when:

  1. a replacement groundfish licence is issued to an individual residing in an alternate home port division (e.g. 4Vn to 4X); or
  2. the present groundfish licence holder takes up residence in an alternate home port division.

Additionally, FG <45’ licence holders with recorded catch in 4T between 1987 and 1993 are authorized to fish for Atlantic halibut in 4T. In 2016, 245 Maritimes-based FG <45’ licences were authorized to fish in 4T, with a fleet share of the 4RST Atlantic halibut stock.

5.6.7. Midshore and offshore fleet sectors

Licences in the midshore and offshore fleet sectors may be issued to any Canadian citizen or permanent resident or a majority-owned Canadian company. In addition, there is a policy within the offshore Enterprise Allocation fleet which allows for the creation of new licences. A new licence may be issued by the Minister when a new entrant into the fleet purchases a minimum of 1000t of quota and 1 vessel designation from an existing licence holder. The existing licence holder must retain a minimum of 1000t and 1 vessel designation during the transaction.

Midshore and offshore licences do not authorize the use of gillnets in NAFO Divisions 4VWX+5.

5.6.8. Vessel designations

Licences in the midshore and offshore fleet sectors may be permitted to fish an Enterprise Allocation using multiple vessels. To be eligible, the licence must have multiple vessel designations. Vessel designations may be transferable within fleets upon application to the Minister.

5.6.9. Dual gear licences in the inshore sector

Prior to the establishment of gear sectors in the inshore fleet, several licence holders fished with both mobile and fixed gear. Upon the introduction of an inshore mobile gear fleet and a fixed gear fleet, these licence holders were required to opt into only 1 of the fishing plans. If the licence holder selected the mobile gear plan, they were permitted to retain the use of fixed gear. Those who opted into the fixed gear plan could no longer use mobile gear.

The MG <65’ fleet has a small allocation of Atlantic halibut which is reserved for bycatch only. Dual gear licences (i.e. those authorizing both mobile and fixed gear) in the <65’ fleet sector fish under the MG <65’ management plan (Appendix 20) and cannot direct for Atlantic halibut or hold halibut quota.

5.6.10. ITQ quota pools

Since the exemption of the groundfish ITQ fleets (i.e. all except FG <45’) from licensing policies that limit individuals to only 1 groundfish licence, there has been moderate concentration of licences in the ITQ fleets. To reduce the need for temporary quota transfers within individual operations, licence holders are permitted to establish ITQ quota pools wherein quota from all licences held by 1 individual or company is pooled and can be fished by a vessel attached to 1 of the licences. To be eligible to form a quota pool, licences must be in the same fleet sector and issued to the same licence holder. Quota concentration limits continue to apply on individual licences. Further information may be found in the Conservation Harvesting Plan for the Mobile Gear <65’ ITQ fleet (Appendix 20).

5.6.11. Temporary Quota Transfers for the ITQ and EA fleets - the integrated fleet initiative

Based on a request by members of the Maritimes Region groundfish fishery, a pilot project was established in 2008 to allow more flexibility for in-season temporary quota transfers among the different fleet sectors, excluding the FG < 45’ fleet which operates under the principle of community-based management. Previously, temporary transfers were permitted between individuals within each fleet, but not across fleets. Known as the “integrated fleet” pilot project, this initiative allowed individual ITQ or EA quota holders to transfer quota with members of other fleets during a given fishing season. The objectives were to improve flexibility (fostering industry self-reliance leading to profitability) and improve quota utilization in the groundfish fishery in Maritimes Region. The pilot project was initially implemented for a period of 2 fishing seasons and was extended for 1 season to allow a review of the project. Upon review, participants decided to continue allowing temporary, in-season quota transfers among fleets on an ongoing basis.

One of the noted benefits of allowing temporary transfers within fleets relates to quota utilization. Certain stocks at low levels can be “choke species” for different fleet sectors, creating an incentive to discard regulated groundfish species, or limiting access to stocks that are at a higher level where bycatch is unavoidable. In general, the increased flexibility to transfer across fleet sectors expanded the pool of quota that individual enterprises can access for stocks constrained by existing fleet sector shares. Some specific examples were noted where the “integrated fleet” initiative allowed for greater quota utilization, such as increased catch of Unit 3 redfish by the MG <65’ sector when they were able to source 4X5 pollock from other sectors. Allowing industry this flexibility also reduces the need for time-consuming and contentious discussions about changes in fleet shares.  

This additional flexibility, along with allowing fleet sectors to use smaller vessels within the Maritimes Region (Section 2.3.1) has resulted in an increased degree of integration between the inshore, midshore and offshore fleet sectors in the Maritimes Region, with enterprises commonly owning licences in different fleet sectors.

5.7. Certification and ecolabelling

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization established to promote sustainable fisheries. The MSC runs the most widely recognized environmental certification and eco-labeling program for wild capture fisheries. MSC certified fish products come from fisheries that meet environmental standards for sustainable fishing and are marked with a label to show they come from a certified sustainable source.

Fishery Gears Area Date certified
Atlantic halibut Longline, Gillnet, Trawl and Handline Scotian Shelf and Grand Banks May 2013
Haddock Otter trawl, longline, handlines, gill nets Scotian Shelf, Bay of Fundy, Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank October 2010

On May 12, 2013, the Canadian Atlantic halibut fishery received eco-certification under the MSC Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing. All conditions from the initial Atlantic halibut certification were considered fully met at the 2nd Audit in 2015. The expiry date for this certification is May 18th, 2018.

On Oct 22, 2010 the Canada Scotia-Fundy haddock fishery received eco-certification under the MSC Principles and Criteria for Sustainable Fishing for NAFO unit areas 5Zjm and 4X5Y. Eight conditions were originally applied of which most were closed or were addressed during the audit period. Reassessment started in 2014 with 5 conditions identified to be addressed during the certification timeframe which expires April 30, 2021.

5.8. International issues

5.8.1. North Atlantic right whale

Recent decisions in both the US and Canada on North Atlantic Right Whale require improving our understanding of the amount and type of gear and lines in the water that might pose a risk. In addition, the North Atlantic right whale (Eubalaena glacialis) Action Plan in Canada: Fishery Interactions (pending approval) aims to “Reduce mortality and injury as a result of fishing gear interactions” and develop mitigation measures.

DFO plans to collect information from fixed gear licence holders to establish baseline information on gear configuration to ensure that any suggested measures effectively reduce the risk and/or severity of entanglement, and minimize the impacts to industry.

The FG <45’ Groundfish Advisory Committee has developed and accepted a Voluntary Standard of Practice (Appendix 5) to minimize risk of entangling and harming right whales, reduce the severity of entanglements, should they occur, and avoid vessel strikes. These measures are expected to benefit other whales and sea turtles as well.

5.8.2. Georges Bank

Under the Canada – US Transboundary Resources Understanding (2003) for groundfish stocks, both countries are responsible for accounting for all fishing mortality under the respective country quotas for yellowtail flounder, cod and haddock. TACs for these three species are established annually and divided between the 2 countries using predetermined formulas. All mortalities of these three species (directed fishing and discards) must be accounted for against each country’s share of the established TACs.

Canada now accounts for 2 sources of fishing mortality on 5Zjm landings from the directed groundfish fleet and estimated legal discards from the offshore scallop fleet, which catches these stocks as an incidental catch. 

6. Generic groundfish objectives, strategies and tactics

The following outlines the general long and short-term objectives for the groundfish fishery in the Maritimes Region. Where the stock specific strategies or tactics differ from those presented here, it will be indicated in the stock specific appendices of the IFMP.

For a general description of strategies and tactics in the context of the regional EAM framework, see Appendix 1.

6.1 Objectives

There are 5 overarching objectives that guide fisheries management planning in the Maritimes Region. They are guided by the principle that the fishery is a common property resource to be managed for the benefit of all Canadians, consistent with conservation objectives, the constitutional protection afforded Aboriginal and treaty rights, and the relative contributions that various uses of the resource make to Canadian society, including socio-economic benefits to communities.

Conservation objectives

  1. Productivity: Do not cause unacceptable reduction in productivity so that components can play their role in the functioning of the ecosystem.
  2. Biodiversity: Do not cause unacceptable reduction in biodiversity in order to preserve the structure and natural resilience of the ecosystem.
  3. Habitat: Do not cause unacceptable modification to habitat in order to safeguard both physical and chemical properties of the ecosystem.

Social, cultural and economic objectives

  1. Culture and sustenance: Respect Aboriginal and treaty rights to fish.
  2. Prosperity: Create the circumstances for economically prosperous fisheries.

The conservation objectives are those from the Maritimes Region’s framework for an ecosystem approach to management (EAM framework). They require consideration of the impact of the fishery not only on the target species but also on non-target species and habitat.

The social, cultural and economic objectives reflect the Aboriginal right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. They also recognize the economic contribution that the fishing industry makes to Canadian businesses and many coastal communities. Ultimately, the economic viability of fisheries depends on the industry itself. However, the Department is committed to managing the fisheries in a manner that helps its members be economically successful while using the ocean’s resources in an environmentally sustainable manner.

6.2 Strategies and tactics

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in the overall groundfish fishery to achieve the objectives outlined above. Not all tactics may be applicable to a specific species. Table 5 outlines the general strategies and tactics, incorporating the relevant reference points for each stock, which are applied to achieve the objectives for the stock. When reference points have not been set for a stock, exploitation rates will be set based on the precautionary approach framework. Figure 7 provides a generic illustration of harvest control rules.

Considering that 5Zjm is included in the US-Canada Transboundary Resource Sharing Understanding, it is recognized that TAC-setting is a collaborative process. As such, the objectives, strategies and reference points described apply explicitly to the management of the stock within Canada. They may also be used to guide Canadian members who will advance positions consistent with these objectives during negotiations at the TMGC. However, it is acknowledged that, as with any international body, differing legislative frameworks may prevent the perfect implementation of the domestic strategies advanced by 1 country.

Fishing mortality target reference (FREF) and Fishing mortality limit reference (FLIM)

FREF is the level of instantaneous fishing mortality that, if applied every year, would, within an acceptable level of risk, maximise the average catch from the fishery¹. The fishing mortality limit reference is value of F which management should seek to stay below under normal circumstances (so FREF ≤ FLIM). FLIM often corresponds to the calculated value of FMSY– the fishing mortality that produces maximum sustainable yield, or a proxy for that value.

BMSY

This value corresponds to the biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield.

Limit reference point (LRP)

The LRP represents the stock status below which serious harm is occurring to the stock.

Upper stock reference point (USR)

Under DFO’s framework, the USR can perform 2 functions. First, the USR is the stock level threshold below which removals must be progressively reduced in order to avoid reaching the LRP. Secondly, the USR can be a target reference point determined by productivity objectives for the stock, broader biological considerations and social and economic objectives for the fishery.

Table 5: General strategies and tactics
STRATEGIES TACTICS
Productivity
Keep fishing mortality moderate by using the following references and risk tolerances:
  • The TAC may be set with a neutral (50%) probability of exceeding the fishing mortality target reference (FREF) when it is above the upper stock reference (USR).
  • The TAC may be set with a low (less than 25%) probability of exceeding the fishing mortality limit reference (FLIM) when the spawning stock biomass (SSB) is above BMSY/ the USR.
  • The TAC should be set to mitigate declines and, when possible, promote positive change in SSB over a three-year period when it is below the upper stock reference (USR). A harvest strategy of FREF is acceptable when the stock is in the Cautious zone, so long as the first criterion is met; however, it is required that fishing mortality will decline as the stock progresses lower into the Cautious zone. The management response will vary depending on location of the stock within the Cautious zone, whether the stock is increasing or decreasing, whether the trajectory (growth or decline) is projected to continue, and indications of incoming recruitment to the SSB, for example.
  • When the SSB is below the limit reference point (LRP), the harvest strategy is to be results-driven rather than based on a predetermined harvest rate. Rebuilding to a level above the LRP should be achieved in a reasonable timeframe (1.5 to 2 generations) with a high degree of probability (greater than 75%). The TAC (if appropriate) should be set with a very low (less than 5%) risk of biomass decline.
  • Total allowable catch (which may be introduced through fleet quota caps or trip limits)
  • Small fish area closures (e.g. redfish)
  • Small fish protocol (e.g. halibut)
  • Gear modifications (e.g. mandatory use of a cod separator panel when fishing with mobile gear in 5Z)
  • Size selectivity through gear restrictions (e.g. mesh and hook size constraints)
Keep fishing mortality of cusk, white hake, Atlantic wolffish and monkfish moderate and within biologically-based limits or, where biologically-based limits are not available, within historic levels for the fleet.
  • Bycatch limits
  • Fleet bycatch caps
Keep fishing mortality of skates and sculpins moderate and within biologically-based limits or, where biologically-based limits are not available, within historic levels for the fleet.
  • Bycatch limits
  • Permitted release
  • Mandatory release of thorny skate
Keep fishing mortality of all sharks moderate and within biologically-based limits or, where biologically-based limits are not available, within historic levels for the fleet.
  • Retention limits for fixed gear
  • Mandatory release for all other fleets
For all groundfish species not listed above and for which there is no TAC allocated, keep fishing mortality moderate and within biologically-based limits or, where biologically-based limits are not available, within historic levels for the fleet.
  • Bycatch limits
Biodiversity
Control unintended incidental mortality for all non-groundfish species.
  • Mandatory release
  • Marine protected areas
Control unintended incidental mortality for spotted wolffish, northern wolffish, white sharks.
  • Mandatory release
Control unintended incidental mortality for leatherback and loggerhead turtles, Northern Bottlenose Whale, Sowerby’s Beaked Whale and North Atlantic Right Whales.
  • Follow voluntary standard practices, or mandatory measures as required, to reduce interactions
  • Marine protected areas
Distribute population component mortality in relation to component biomass.
  • Fleet quotas by area
Habitat
Manage disturbance of area habitat.
  • Coral conservation areas
  • Sponge conservation areas
  • Marine protected areas
Culture and sustenance
Provide access for food, social and ceremonial purposes.
  • Annual negotiations of food, social and ceremonial licences
Support recreational participation.
  • Open access subject to seasons ands bag limits, pursuant to the Atlantic Fishery Regulations
Prosperity
Limit inflexibility in policy and licensing among individual enterprises/licence holders.
  • Exempted fleet licences
  • Substitute operators/ Designated operators
  • Harvest benefit combining
  • ITQ quota pools
  • Integrated fleet policies
Ensure that in the Fixed Gear < 45’ sector, the benefits of fishing licences flow to the fish harvester.
  • Owner operator
  • Fleet separation
  • PIIFCAF
Minimize instability in access to resources and allocations.
  • Fleet shares
  • Individual quotas, enterprise allocations and community quotas.
  • Annual TAC variation
Limit inability for self-adjustment to overcapacity relative to resource availability.
  • Quota transferability
  • Harvest benefit combining
  • Quota carry forward
  • Integrated fleet policies
Support certification for sustainability.
  • Provision of data, where available
Figure 7: Generic illustration of the harvest control rules
Description

Generic illustration of harvest control rules. This framework provides guidance on developing reference points and harvest decision rules for key harvested target stocks

7. Access and allocation

The groundfish fishery is a limited-entry fishery; details on access to the fishery is more fully described in Section 5.5, Licensing Policy, as well as in the Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996 as amended from time to time.

7.1. Canada - US sharing arrangement

The Eastern Georges Bank allocation shares for Canada and the US are based on a combination of historical catches (10% weighting) and resource distribution based on trawl surveys (90% weighting). Therefore, the country shares are subject to change each year based on the distribution of the stock. Further details are available at the TMGC’s website.

7.2. Domestic sharing arrangements

The TAC is fully allocated to fleet sectors according to established percentage shares; these shares are considered stable. An overview of the shares is available at the Stable Atlantic Sharing Arrangements website. With the exception of the FG <45’ fleet sector, shares are further allocated as Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ) or Enterprise Allocations (EA).

For Maritimes Region groundfish stocks, allocations are transferable within and between the EA and ITQ fleets on a temporary basis. Permanent quota transfers between fleets are not generally permitted, but may be approved on a case-by-case basis. For a complete description of quota trade and transfers, please refer to the Atlantic Canada Groundfish Transfer Guidelines, available upon request to the groundfish senior advisor.

As stated previously, DFO manages fisheries in a manner consistent with the constitutional protection given Aboriginal and treaty rights. If a harvestable surplus of a given species or stock is available, Aboriginal rights to fish for FSC purposes take precedence over other resource uses. Moreover, the fisheries must be managed in a manner that is consistent with the provisions of treaties and land claims agreements.

The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements as outlined in this IFMP, in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

8. Compliance plan

8.1 Conservation and Protection program description

The management of Canadian fisheries requires an integrated approach to monitoring, control and surveillance that involves the deployment of fishery officers to air, sea and land patrols, observer coverage on fishing vessels, Dockside Monitoring Programs (DMP) and remote electronic monitoring (VMS).

Conservation and Protection (C&P) activities are designed to ensure compliance with the legislation, policies and fishing plans relating to the conservation and sustainable use of the resource. The C&P National Compliance Framework describes a three pillar approach to the sustainability of this and other fisheries. The pillars are Education/Shared Stewardship, Monitoring, Control and Surveillance and Major Case Management. 

8.2 Regional compliance program delivery

Compliance in the groundfish fishery is achieved through the application of the Fisheries Act, the Fishery (General) Regulations, the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations and the Species at Risk Act by Fishery Officers.

C&P has typically maintained a cadre of 130-140 Fishery Officers in Maritimes Region who in recent years have averaged 22% of their annual enforcement effort on groundfish. 

The majority of Fishery Officers are posted to land based detachments. These officers conduct dockside checks to assess catch reporting integrity as well as follow up investigative work in their offices. A portion of their time is also aimed at detecting illegal, unregulated and unreported activity. Fishery Officers depend on information from within the industry and an increasing reliance on intelligence to position themselves in the right places to prevent and deter illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing activity.

C&P also has an Offshore Surveillance Detachment whose officers work mostly at sea on patrol vessels or surveillance aircraft. Much of their work is dedicated to groundfish. 

The launch of new midshore patrol vessels in 2013 and 2014 has restored a year round enforcement presence at sea. Offshore officers use the patrol vessels as a platform from which to conduct vessel inspections. During these inspections, the officers check fishing gear as well as inspect logbooks and vessel holds to ensure the catch has been correctly reported. Aerial surveillance is C&P’s primary means of assuring compliance with fishery closures such as the Brown’s Bank haddock spawning area, the 4W nursery area and the coral closures, among others.

C&P is responsible for designation of dockside and sea going observers and ensures that service providers meet policy and regulatory standards. Misreporting has been the single most common problem in the groundfish fishery. As a result, C&P has increased its focus on intelligence and special investigations.

Fishery Officers track their enforcement time, observed occurrences and violations in an electronic database. Information from that system is included in this summary.

Appendix 6 contains a summary of violations, patrol vessel and aircraft time, observer coverage and penalties from 2011 to 2016. There is also a summary of the issues encountered in 2015 and 2016 based on a review of all violations records recorded by officers.

8.3 Consultation

Education and shared stewardship are achieved in the groundfish fishery through renewed emphasis on C&P communication with other DFO sectors, the industry and community at large including:

In recent years, C&P has provided advice on compliance levels as part of eco-certification processes, including Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) assessments. Several of these processes have been for groundfish species.

From the review of groundfish violations in 2015 and 2016, it was evident that Fishery Officers spent considerable amounts of time educating fishery participants on compliance matters and frequently opted for an explanation of how compliance could be improved rather than lay charges. As cases in point, there was an almost constant need to explain hail procedures and proper logbook completion. In other cases, officers educated captains and crews on the identification of SARA-protected wolffish species or how to accurately measure halibut to ensure it meets minimum size requirements.

8.4. Compliance performance

It is difficult to assess whether groundfish compliance has improved or worsened in recent years. Whereas the table in the appendix shows that over a thousand violations occurred in 2011 and then totals dropped significantly thereafter, the total for 2011 includes records identified as part of a major investigation that began several years earlier and included significant office time reviewing logbooks, hails and purchase slips to identify serious misreporting. Some very meaningful penalties resulted from charges laid following this investigation for violations that happened from 2007 to 2011 including individual fines in excess of $20,000, total fines of over $1,000,000 and long term orders prohibiting further participation in the fishery for some of the worst offenders.

The review of the issues that occurred during the 2015 and 2016 calendar years revealed several serious incidents including 2 incidents (three charges) where individuals fished contrary to prohibition orders as well as repeated attempts to underreport or conceal illegal catches, often halibut. The use of undersized mesh in mobile gears was also higher than observed in previous years. One possible explanation for increased gear violations is that offshore patrols resumed activities during winter months after being absent for several years. More routine problems noted in the past such as failure to complete logbooks on a timely basis, insufficient hail time or failure to present or renew a personal fisher’s registration card did not appear to have diminished during the review period.

Halibut was the species most frequently involved in violations. There were frequent problems where this species was underreported in hails as well as occasional attempts to smuggle quantities of this species ashore through its concealment in personal gear, transshipment to a skiff, to a vehicle or in 1 case, in a vessel life raft.

The probable reason for continued non-compliance is that penalties are still not severe enough to deter those who would fish illegally. At present, Fishery Officers are limited to either issuing a warning or laying a charge. In many cases, they simply issue a warning (over 100 in 2016) since there is no ticketing option. Finite resources within DFO, the Public Prosecution Service and the court system mean that only a small proportion of violations make their way into the courts. The number of cases that result in a conviction is even smaller. Fines are typically less than $5000 while jail sentences for fisheries offences are very rare. Furthermore, licence suspensions rely on the courts rather than DFO as was the case with the former administrative sanctions program.

Compliance for groundfish and all other fisheries would benefit from the introduction of a ticketing regime for low end offences (such as personal registrations or many hail related offences), and a broader range of sanctions for more serious offences such as more impactful fines, forfeitures and long term refusal to issue licenses to the most serious offenders. A new program whereby licenses will not be issued to persons with unpaid fines was put in place by April 1, 2017. 

8.5. Current compliance issues

Misreporting of catches in general is the single biggest compliance issue. Compliance issues with hails, logbooks, VMS, bypassing DMP and unlicensed/unreported activity are all part of misreporting. Whereas some misreporting results from carelessness or lack of attention to detail, it can also occur for more calculated reasons such as an attempt to circumvent a community quota or illegally catch a high value species.

Hails both in and out are significant compliance issues and, whereas the vast majority of cases in recent years have been relatively minor in terms of failing to respect the required times, there have been cases where hailing practices were clearly intended to thwart scrutiny of illegal catches and activities. 

Halibut, and to a lesser extent, cod also remain a compliance concern. Some licensed harvesters will misreport both species that are caught in excess of industry imposed community quotas because these catches can be lucrative (especially halibut). Others will simply fish for halibut without a licence or under the guise of a licence for another species.

Finally, reports of harmful practices such as dumping and highgrading persist but these remain extremely difficult for C&P to confirm or address. To take a dumping or highgrading case through the courts, a Fishery Officer or observer must be on hand to observe the practice or otherwise build a circumstantial case that satisfies a test of “beyond reasonable doubt”. In reality, this happens very rarely. A better option for C&P as well as DFO’s Resource Management and Science might be more judicious use of at-sea observers and the data they gather to either increase the deterrent where the risk appears high or to facilitate comparisons with suspicious data for unobserved activity.

8.6. Compliance strategy

Overt C&P strategies for dealing with current compliance deficiencies have been addressed in the preceding sections. Overall, ongoing risk analysis and other factors suggest groundfish fisheries need a continued concentration of enforcement effort at least at the current level and possibly even higher.

9. Monitoring, evaluation and plan enhancement

To ensure effective management of fisheries, periodic reviews of management measures are required. There are 2 forums through which this takes place for the groundfish fishery: the DFO Science RAP and through advisory committees including the SFGAC. The exception is for the three transboundary stocks on Georges Bank, where the relevant forums are the TRAC and the GOMAC.

Through the science-led RAP or TRAC process, an evaluation of many of the strategies and tactics can be conducted to determine whether they are appropriate to meet our overall objectives related to productivity, biodiversity and habitat. However, it is crucial that the appropriate information is collected and provided to the Department to conduct this evaluation. This includes catch and effort information from the fisheries and regular standardized surveys of the population.

Through consultations with the SFGAC or GOMAC, as well as fleet sector advisory committees, it will be evaluated whether the catch monitoring tools (e.g. dockside and at-sea monitoring) are sufficient to provide information to achieve our objectives related to biodiversity, habitat and prosperity and whether the tools are being used satisfactorily.

For example, the levels of observer coverage for both fixed and mobile gears in 2015 and 2016 were shared at the SFGAC in the fall of 2016.

Annual negotiations of Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy agreements ensure that FSC licenses and conditions are evaluated and improved regularly.

Information gathered through other evaluation processes like the department's  Sustainability Survey for Fisheries is used to help identify areas for improvement in the management of these fisheries. Through consultation with stakeholders and rights holders, potential improvements are explored and priorities established.

Three general areas have been identified within the IFMP for enhancement:

Table 6 identifies the general approach taken under each objective identified in Section 6. Where there are stock-specific areas of enhancement identified, these are included in the appendices.

Table 6: Evaluation, monitoring and plan enhancement. Detailed descriptions of strategies and tactics are included in Section 6.2 and in individual species appendices.
STRATEGIES TACTICS EVALUATION MONITORING PLAN ENHANCEMENT
Productivity
Keep directed fishing mortality moderate and within biologically-based limits (eg. reference points and harvest control rules). Total allowable catch Review through DFO science processes, such as RAP meetings, and through advisory committee meetings

Estimates of abundance and recruitment through science and industry surveys

Catch monitoring through landings and authorized discard data from log books / weighout slips

Dockside monitoring

Data from at-sea observers

Hail-in/out requirements

C&P inspections

Reference points and harvest control rules have been incorporated for most stocks but should be revised if new information is available.

Where reference point proxies or non-peer reviewed harvest control rules have been adopted, these should be replaced with science-based, peer reviewed reference points.

Science and industry collaborations to improve data collection for stocks where current surveys are not adequate (e.g. WC pollock)

Increase at-sea observer coverage rates in fisheries not meeting targets

Account for all catch, whether caught recreationally, under a FSC licence, discarded from the groundfish fishery or as bycatch in a non-groundfish fishery

Keep fishing mortality of incidentally-caught groundfish species moderate and within biologically-based limits or, where biologically-based limits are not available, within historic levels for the fleet.

Bycatch limits

Fleet bycatch caps

Mandatory release

Authorized release

Gear modifications

Time/area closures

Review through DFO science processes, such as RAP meetings, and through advisory committee meetings

Estimates of abundance and recruitment through science and industry surveys

Catch monitoring through landings and discard data from log books / weighout slips

Dockside monitoring

Data from at-sea observers

C&P inspections

Improve discard reporting through logbook redesign and outreach, including SARA logbooks

Increase at-sea observer coverage rates in fisheries not meeting targets

Review at-sea monitoring objectives and requirements to ensure useable data are available to estimate incidental mortality

When possible, investigate possible gear modifications to reduce bycatch.

Allow sufficient escapement from exploitation for spawning

Small fish area closures

Small fish protocol

Gear restrictions for size selectivity

Periodic review of management measures through science processes such as framework assessments or special science responses

Review through advisory committees

Vessel Monitoring Systems

C&P inspections

Port sampling

At-sea observers

Review mesh size restrictions and minimum sizes (e.g. for flounders).

Ensure adequate size sampling to apply the small fish protocol, especially where concerns have been noted (e.g. Unit 2 redfish).

Consider adding review of longstanding management measures to species assessments or requesting separate science advice.

Limit disturbing activity in important reproductive areas/seasons Time/area spawning closures

Periodic review of management measures through science processes such as framework assessments or special science responses

Review through advisory committees

Vessel Monitoring Systems

C&P inspections

Port sampling

At-sea observers

Consider adding review of longstanding management measures to species assessments or requesting separate science advice.
Biodiversity
Control unintended incidental mortality for all non-groundfish species, including species listed under SARA.

Mandatory release

Retention limits (e.g. for sharks caught with fixed gear)

Voluntary standard practices to reduce interactions

Marine Protected Areas

Review of available bycatch information through science processes

Review through advisory committees

Annual review of SARA logbooks

Catch monitoring through landings and discard data from log books / weighout slips

Data from at-sea observers

C&P inspections

Improve discard reporting through logbook redesign and outreach, including SARA logbooks

Increase at-sea observer coverage rates in fisheries not meeting targets

Review at-sea monitoring objectives and requirements to ensure useable data are available to estimate incidental mortality

When possible, investigate possible gear modifications to reduce bycatch.

Distribute population component mortality in relation to component biomass. Fleet quotas by area (e.g. halibut quotas for Fixed Gear <45’) Review through DFO science processes, such as RAP meetings, and through advisory committee meetings

Catch monitoring through landings and authorized discard data from log books / weighout slips

Dockside monitoring

 
Habitat
Manage area disturbed of habitat

Coral and sponge conservation areas

Marine Protected Areas

Review through DFO science processes, such as RAP meetings, and through advisory committee meetings

Vessel Monitoring Systems

C&P surveillance

 
Culture and sustenance
Provide access for food, social and ceremonial purposes. Food, social and ceremonial licences. Annual discussions regarding FSC licences C&P inspections and Fishery Guardians where applicable  
Support participation in recreational fisheries Open access subject to season ands bag limits, pursuant to the Atlantic Fishery Regulations   C&P inspections Discussions regarding marine recreational licences including managing removals, are ongoing
Properity
Limit inflexibility in policy and licensing among individual enterprises/licence holders.

Substitute operators/ Designated operators

Harvest benefit combining

ITQ quota pools

Integrated fleet policies

Periodic review through advisory committees and other consutltative processes

Socio-economic analysis – research by DFO on economic impacts of policy choices.

Qualitative feedback from industry  
Ensure that in the Fixed Gear < 45’ sector, the benefits of fishing licences flow to the fish harvester

Owner operator

Fleet separation

PIIFCAF

Periodic review through advisory committees and other consultative processes Qualitative feedback from industry  
Minimize instability in access to resources and allocations

Fleet shares

Individual quotas, enterprise allocations and community quotas.

Limits on annual TAC variation

Periodic review through advisory committees and other consultatitve processes Qualitative feedback from industry  
Limit inability for self-adjustment to overcapacity relative to resource availability.

Quota transferability

Harvest benefit combining

Quota carry forward

Integrated fleet policies

Periodic review through advisory committees and other consultative processes Qualitative feedback from industry  
Support sustainability certification Provision of data, when available      

10. Safety at sea

Vessel owners and masters have a duty to ensure the safety of their crew and vessel. Adherence to safety regulations and good practices by owners, masters and crew of fishing vessels will help save lives, protect the vessel from damage and protect the environment. All fishing vessels must be in a seaworthy condition and maintained as required by Transport Canada and other applicable agencies. Vessels subject to inspection should ensure that the certificate of inspection is valid for the area of intended operation. 

In the federal government, responsibility for shipping, navigation, and vessel safety regulations and inspections lies with Transport Canada; emergency response with the Canadian Coast Guard and DFO has responsibility for management of the fisheries resources while ensuring that safety at sea is considered. DFO and Transport Canada have a Memorandum of Understanding to formalize cooperation and to establish, maintain and promote a safe culture within the fishing industry.

Before leaving on a voyage the owner, master or operator must ensure that the fishing vessel is capable of safely making the passage. Critical factors for a safe voyage include the seaworthiness of the vessel, vessel stability, having the required safety equipment in good working order, crew training and knowledge of current and forecasted weather conditions.

Useful publications include Transport Canada Publication TP 10038  Small Fishing Vessel Safety Manual.

In addition, new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations came into force in 2017.

11. Glossary

12. References

DFO CSAS publications.

Butler, S. and S. Coffen-Smout. 2017. Maritimes Region Fisheries Atlas: Catch Weight Landings Mapping (2010-2014). Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 3199.

Clark, D.S.; K.J. Clark and I.V. Andrushchenko. 2011. Precautionary Approach Limit Reference Points for Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) in NAFO Divisions 4X5Yb and 5Zjm. Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2011/085.

Clark, K.J., Hansen, S.C. and Gale, J. 2015. Overview of Discards from Canadian Commercial Groundfish Fisheries in Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Divisions 4X5Yb for 2007-2011. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2015/054. iv + 51 p.

Comeau, P.A., M.J. Tremblay, S. Campana, G. Young, C. Frail and S. Rowe. Review of the St. Mary’s Bay Longhorn Sculpin Fishery. 2009. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2009/051. vi + 75 p.

Cox, S.P., A. Benson and C.E. den Heyer. 2016. Framework Stock Assessment for Atlantic Halibut on the Scotian Shelf and Southern Grand Banks. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2016/001.

DFO. 1989. Report of the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Task Force. DFO Cat. No. Fs 23-157/1989.

DFO. 1993. Charting a new course: towards the fishery of the future. Task Force on Incomes and Adjustment in the Atlantic Fishery. DFO Misc. Publ., Cat. No. Fs 23-243/ 1993.

DFO. 1997. Status of Redfish Stocks in the Northwest Atlantic: Redfish in Units 1, 2 and 3, and in Division 30. Stock Status Report A1-01.

DFO. 2011a. Recovery Potential Assessment for the Laurentian South Designatable Unit of Atlantic Cod (Gadus Morhua). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2011/028.

DFO. 2011b. Proceedings of Gulf and Maritimes Zonal Science Advisory Process Framework Meeting for Atlantic Cod Assessment Models, Medium-term Projections and Reference Points; 6-8 December 2010. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Proceed. Ser. 011/051.

DFO. 2011c. Western Component (4Xopqrs5) Pollock Management Strategy Evaluation. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2011/054.

DFO. 2011d. Recovery Potential Assessment (RPA) for the Southern Designatable Unit (NAFO Divs 4X5Yb and 5Zjm) of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) SAR 2011/034

DFO. 2012a. Reference points consistent with the precautionary approach for a variety of stocks in the Maritimes Region. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2012/035.

DFO. 2012b. Assessment of the Status of 4X5Y Haddock in 2011. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2012/023.

DFO. 2012c. Reference points for Redfish (Sebastes mentella and Sebastes fasciatus) in the northwest Atlantic. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2012/004. (Erratum: June 2013)

DFO. 2012d. State of the Ocean Report for the Scotian Shelf and the Gulf of Maine.

DFO. 2013. 2012 Assessment of 4VWX Silver Hake. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2013/018.

DFO. 2014a. Offshore Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas in the Scotian Shelf Bioregion. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2014/041.

DFO. 2014b. Assessment of Spiny Dogfish in the Northwest Atlantic. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2014/055.

DFO. 2014c. Update to the Recovery Potential for Cusk in Canadian Waters. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2014/048.

DFO. 2015a. 2014 4X5Y Atlantic Cod Stock Status Update. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci.Resp. 2015/010.

DFO. 2015b. 2014 Assessment of Atlantic Halibut on the Scotian Shelf and Southern Grand Banks (NAFO Divisions 3NOPs4VWX5Zc). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2015/012.

DFO. 2015c. Status of Cusk (Brosme brosme) in NAFO Divisions 4VWX5Z Under the Precautionary Approach Framework. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2015/005.

DFO. 2015d. Interim Report on Scotian Shelf Silver Hake (NAFO Divs. 4VWX) Status Update. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2015/004.

DFO. 2016a. Stock Status Update of Atlantic Halibut on the Scotian Shelf and Southern Grand Banks (NAFO Divs. 3NOPs4VWX5Zc). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2016/010.

DFO. 2016b. Assessment of Redfish Stocks (Sebastes fasciatus and S. mentella) in Units 1 and 2 in 2015. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2016/047.

DFO. 2016c. Northwest Atlantic Spiny Dogfish Stock Status Update Report. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2016/019.

DFO. 2016d. 2015 Maritimes Research Vessel Survey Trends on the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2016/011.

DFO. 2016e. 2015 Maritimes Winter Research Vessel Survey Trends on Georges Bank. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2016/012.

DFO. 2016f. Western Component (4Xopqrs5) Pollock Harvest Control Rule Update Report. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2016/002.

DFO. 2016g. Scotian Shelf Silver Hake (NAFO Divisions 4VWX) Stock Status Update for 2015-2016. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2016/027.

DFO. 2016h. Status of Cusk (Brosme brosme) in NAFO Divisions 4VWX5Z Under the Precautionary Approach Framework. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2016/014.

DFO. 2016i. Recovery Potential Assessment for White Hake (Urophycis tenuis): Population of the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2016/035.

DFO. 2017a. Assessment of 4X5Y Haddock in 2016. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2017/006.

DFO. 2017b. Recovery Potential Assessment for Winter Skate (Leucoraja ocellata): Eastern Scotian Shelf and Newfoundland Population. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2017/014.

DFO. 2017c. 2016 4X5Yb Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua) Stock Status Update. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2017/024.

DFO. 2017d. Stock Status Update of Atlantic Halibut on the Scotian Shelf and Southern Grand Banks (NAFO Divs. 3NOPs4VWX5Zc). DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2017/021.

DFO. 2017e. Western Component (4Xopqrs5) Pollock Harvest Control Rule Update and Indicators Report. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2017/028.

Environment Canada. 1977. Policy for Canada's Commercial Fisheries. Environment Canada, Ottawa, misc. publ., 70pp) Fisheries and Marine Service, Department of the Environment, Ottawa, Canada.

Frank, K.T., N. Shackell and J. E. Simon. 1998. An evaluation of the Emerald/Western Bank juvenile Haddock closed area. Can. Stock Assessment Sec. Res. Doc. 98/53.

Gavaris, S, L. Van Eeckhaute and K. Clark. 2007. Discards of Cod from the 2006 Canadian Groundfish Fishery on Eastern Georges Bank. TRAC. Ref. Doc. 2007/02: 23p.

Gough, J. 2007. Fisheries Management in the Maritimes Region, 1990-2005. DFO Communications.

Gough, J. and Kenchington, T. 1995. A Glossary of Fisheries Science: Terms in Common Use in the Scotia-Fundy Region. DFO Communications.

Harris, L.E., Somers, G. and Clark, D.S. 2012. Reference Points for Cusk (Brosme brosme) in NAFO Divisions 4VWX5Z Under the Precautionary Approach Framework. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2012/026: iii + 10 p.

Kirby, J. 1982. Navigating Troubled Waters: a New Policy for the Atlantic Fisheries, Report of the Task Force on Atlantic Fisheries. Supply and Services, Ottawa, 379pp.

O’Boyle, R. 2011. Benefits of Marine Protected Areas and Fisheries Closures in the Northwest Atlantic. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2948.

Ollerhead, L.M.N., M.J. Morgan, D.A. Scruton and B. Marrie. 2004. Mapping spawning times and locations of 10 commercially important fish species found on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland. Can. Tech. Rep. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 2522. 45 pp.

Sinclair et al. 2015. Eastern Scotian Shelf trophic dynamics: A review of the evidence for diverse hypotheses. Progress in Oceanography. 138(A): 305-321.

Stone, H.H. and S.C. Hansen. 2015. 4X5Y Haddock 2014 Framework Assessment: Data Inputs and Exploratory Modelling. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Res. Doc. 2015/022. iv + 90 p.

TRAC. 2015. Eastern Georges Bank Cod. TRAC Status Report 2015/01.

TRAC. 2016. Georges Bank Yellowtail Flounder. TRAC Status Report 2016/03.

Appendix 1: Summary of Maritimes Region EAM framework

This appendix summarizes the framework adopted by DFO Maritimes Region for implementing an Ecosystem Approach to Management (EAM) in all activities for which the department has management responsibility. It also discusses application of the framework more specifically to fisheries management.

Introduction to EAM

An ecosystem approach to managing human activity requires consideration of an activity’s impact on all components of the ecosystem – including its structure, function and overall quality – and not just on the resource being used. It also means accounting for the cumulative effects of multiple uses, and accounting for how environmental forces, such as climate change, might be affecting how we should manage.

Fully implementing EAM will be a large undertaking. Progress will happen in a step-by-step, evolutionary way. In the short-term, the Department will work on implementing EAM in the context of discrete activities, such as fishing. In the long-term, a diversity of ocean users and regulators will need to come together to draw up plans for the integrated management of all ocean activities. First attention will be given to impacts of the highest importance and offering the greatest scope for improvement.

EAM in the context of Fisheries Management

Consensus is growing within Canada and internationally that the sustainability of fish stocks and fisheries requires an ecosystem approach to management. Traditionally, fisheries management has focused on regulating the impact of fishing on the targeted species. Under an ecosystem approach, managers consider impacts not only on the target species but also on non-target species and habitat. Some of these impacts will be direct, such as impacts on the populations of non-target species that suffer mortality incidentally because of interactions with fishing gear. Other impacts may be indirect, such as the effects of mortality on predator-prey relationships. IFMPs will document the main impacts on the ecosystem from fishing activities and outline how these pressures will be managed.

Main elements of the framework

EAM is a management planning framework. Management planning requires the specification of objectives (what you want to achieve), of strategies (what you will do to manage human‑induced pressures so that you can achieve your objectives) and tactics (how you will implement your strategies). These elements are presented in the table overleaf. They are the foundation of the Region’s EAM framework and have been developed to cover the full range of potential impacts on the ecosystem resulting from the various activities managed by the Department.  (Not all strategies will be relevant to all activities.)

Table 1A: Framework for an ecosystem approach to management (Resource Management, Maritimes Region)
Attributes Objectives: Strategies with associated pressures Managed activities Tactics

Expansion of attributes considered

  • air quality
  • biomass
  • breeding behavior
  • community assemblage
  • genetic structure
  • habitat structure
  • organism health
  • population richness
  • forage predators
  • primary production
  • recruitment
  • sediment quality
  • size spectrum
  • size/age structure
  • spatial extent
  • spatial occupancy
  • ‘special places’
  • ‘special species’
  • trophic structure
  • water quality
  • yield
  • traditional Aboriginal use
  • efficiency
  • market access

Productivity: Do not cause unacceptable reduction in productivity so that components can play their role in the functioning of the ecosystem

  • Keep fishing mortality moderate
  • Allow sufficient escapement from exploitation for spawning
  • Limit disturbing activity in important reproductive areas/seasons
  • Control alteration of nutrient concentrations affecting primary production

Biodiversity: Do not cause unacceptable reduction in biodiversity in order to preserve the structure and natural resilience of the ecosystem

  • Control unintended incidental mortality for all species
  • Distribute population component mortality in relation to component biomass
  • Minimize unintended introduction and transmission of invasive species
  • Control introduction and proliferation of disease/pathogens
  • Minimize aquaculture escapes

Habitat: Do not cause unacceptable modification to habitat in order to safeguard both physical and chemical properties of the ecosystem

  • Manage area disturbed of habitat
  • Limit introduction of pollutants
  • Minimize introduction of debris
  • Control noise disturbance
  • Control light disturbance

Culture and sustenance: Respect Aboriginal and treaty rights to fish

  • Provide access for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes

Prosperity: Create the circumstances for economically prosperous fisheries

  • Limit inflexibility in policy and licensing among individual enterprises/licence holders
  • Minimize instability in access to resources and allocations
  • Limit inability for self-adjustment to overcapacity relative to resource availability
  • Support certification for sustainability

For example, groundfish fishery, herring fishery, salmon/aquaculture, etc.

Expansion of pressures considered

Cumulative effects of pressures on other managed activities considered

  • catch control
  • effort control
  • gear specification
  • size-based release
  • area/season closure
  • ballast water control
  • recreational fisheries awards
  • FSC licences
  • community quota management
  • transferable quotas
  • licence combining
  • exempted licences
  • multi-licensing
  • certification data
  • stabilized fisheries
  • transparency in ministerial decisions

Note: Elements associated with culture, sustenance and prosperity are provisional and at present are being applied only in fisheries management.

Objectives

Under EAM, management planning within the Region will be guided by three ecosystem objectives: 

It is impractical to pursue conservation in isolation from the economic, social and cultural aspirations of users, and these must be recognized in any plan if it is to be successful. The Region intends to develop a set of economic, social and cultural objectives in the near future that will be common to all activities managed by the Department. In the meantime, Resource Management has developed the following, provisional objectives for application in fisheries management:

Attributes

Attributes are traits of the ecosystem that we value. They are the means by which the broadly stated objectives are given specificity. We might be interested in the condition of many ecosystem attributes. Those listed in the first column of Table 1A are ones that respond to human induced pressures. Examples of attributes of fish populations are yield, breeding behaviour, biomass and genetic structure. Examples of ecosystem attributes are population richness, spatial occupancy and trophic structure. There are initiatives also by DFO to identify ecologically or biologically sensitive areas, ecologically or biologically sensitive species, Depleted Species and Degraded Areas. These too can be viewed as attributes of an ecosystem.

Strategies and references

As stated, objectives are very general statements that are translated into practical terms through the definition of strategies. Strategies state “what” will be done to manage pressures from human activities. Common pressures from fishing activities are fishing mortality, incidental mortality and disturbance of bottom habitat. The strategies aim to control the impact of these pressures on the valued ecosystem attributes.

Strategies define how the pressures imposed by human activities will be managed. For example, what level of fishing mortality is viewed as acceptable?  How much bottom habitat disturbance is too much? This is done by using references that define pressure levels that cause unacceptable or undesirable impacts on the attributes. The basis for determining references will vary depending on the state of knowledge. Some may be chosen fairly arbitrarily when knowledge is weak, perhaps based on historical trends. When more is known, their determination may involve evaluation of alternative population/ecosystem dynamics models, ranging from 'single species' to 'full ecosystem' models. There are many gaps in scientific knowledge of ecosystem structure and function, and, no matter how references are determined, they will need revision as the human and environmental factors affecting ecosystems become better understood.

Tactics

Tactics are sometimes referred to as tactical management measures. They are “how” the strategies will be implemented to manage the pressures imposed by fishery activities. Examples of common tactics in fisheries management are total allowable catches, individual or community quotas, seasonal closures, gear restrictions, minimum fish sizes and dockside monitoring.

Monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring and evaluation are necessary for ensuring management plans are working as intended. Monitoring involves collecting data that will provide information on how well or badly the various features of the plan are performing. Evaluation involves determining whether strategies are being implemented adequately and whether they are doing their job in meeting the plan objectives. Evaluation also involves assessing whether the plan identifies and addresses all the important impacts on the ecosystem.

In fisheries management plans, strategies and references for pressures are likely to remain unchanged for the duration of the plan. However, as new understanding is gained, or when prevailing conditions alter the productivity of the resource, review and evaluation of strategies and references may be warranted. Tactics may be specified for the duration of the plan, or they may require regular intervention to set appropriate levels.

Plan enhancement

Developing a robust plan that addresses the full range of ecosystem impacts of a given activity will take time and resources, and it is unlikely that data to support all elements will be available at the outset. In recognition of this, management plans should identify the main weaknesses of the plan, including weaknesses in the data needed for setting references for strategies, evaluating pressures relative to the references, and checking compliance with tactics.

Management plans should also outline any data collection that is underway and the research required to make advances, noting the risks if not done.

Appendix 2: Scotia-fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee

Terms of reference (2009)

Purpose

The Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee will provide input and advice to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans on the conservation, protection and management of the groundfish fishery resource. This Committee will serve as the pre-eminent consultative forum.

Scope

The Committee will provide recommendations and advice on Regional policy issues for NAFO Areas 4Vn, 4VS, 4W, 4X, 5Y and 5Ze. Consequently, the Committee can review recommendations made by area advisory committees to determine what management measures could be included in Regional fishing plans.

The Committee will provide advice on annual fishing plans, regulatory measures, fishing seasons, licensing policies, size limitations, bycatch provisions and gear restrictions.

The Committee will make recommendations on annual total allowable catches, quotas, the administration of enterprise allocation programmes, the allocation of foreign quotas and on the introduction of new fishing technologies into the fishery that may affect existing management measures.

The Committee will give consideration to biological, marketing and other information as it affects the management of the resource.

Administration

Structure

Any changes to the structure and administration of the Committee will be decided by the Committee membership.

Subcommittee

Ad hoc subcommittees/working groups can be established to review and assess specific policy options and management measures.

Meetings

Meetings can be held throughout the Scotia-Fundy Region. When feasible, meetings will be held at times and places convenient to the membership.

Expenses

Non-DFO members do not receive funding from DFO for expenses incurred when attending meetings.

Voting procedures

No formal voting procedures will be established. The Committee will seek to operate on a consensus basis.

Minutes of meetings

Minutes of the committee’s meetings will be prepared and distributed by DFO.

Public access

Unless a majority of Committee members say otherwise before a meeting starts, the proceedings of the advisory committee will be open to the public and to media representatives.

DFO working groups

The Committee will be supported by a working group of DFO officials who will consolidate scientific, economic and management advice into draft fishing plans for the Committee’s consideration.

Number of meetings

The Committee will meet at least twice a year. Additional meetings can be held if required.

Attendance

If a member cannot attend, an alternative may be nominated and the Chairman notified as far in advance of the meeting date as possible.

Membership

Chairmanship – The Committee chairmanship will be held by a DFO official. An industry co-chairman may be appointed at the discretion of Committee members.

The membership of the committee will be made up of representatives from fishing associations and unions, processors, individual fish harvesters, other industry representatives, provincial governments and DFO.

For an up-to-date Scotia-Fundy groundfish membership list, please contact:
905-407-8153 / DFO.MAR-FM-GP.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Appendix 3: Scotia-fundy Fixed Gear Groundfish Advisory Committee Terms of Reference (2009)

Mandate

The Scotia Fundy Fixed Gear Advisory Committee will provide advice to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on issues related to fixed gear groundfish management that transcend the issues resolved in community management boards or which affect more than 1 management board and require a broader industry discussion. Agenda items would include but not be limited to the following: management decisions for non-allocated species that are not divided into community allocations;  gear restrictions and other conservation measures which are required industry wide in order to maintain a sustainable fishery;  development of areas closure that affect various community groups;  fixed gear licensing policy; issues related to marine mammal interaction;  vessel capacity rules;  fixed gear research priorities;  review of the community management program in 1999; and all other policy documents affecting fixed gear. The committee will also act as a forum for information exchange among the management boards. The committee will provide advice to the FRCC. It will also form subcommittees to attend other meetings such as the Scotia Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee, and form working groups to address identified fixed gear issues.

Membership

Membership shall be composed of a maximum of three representative from each board as follows;  the 8  4X geographical management boards, the 3 4VW geographical management boards in Eastern Nova Scotia and the 45-65 Fixed Gear management Board. As well the membership will include 1 representative from each provincial government. The members will be chosen by the boards in a manner acceptable to each board. A representative from 2 processor associations will sit at the table as observers. DFO representation will include individuals as outlined under advisors and /or secretariat.

Chairperson

The chairperson shall be chosen from among the members and will act in that capacity for 1 year or until there is a request for a review. The chairperson will have the responsibility of ensuring only appointed representatives sit at the table. The chairperson will also be responsible for ensuring that only those at the table speak.

Decision making

Decisions of the committee will be made by consensus, meaning unanimous (non-dissenting) agreement but consensus will be based on specific stock areas and the management boards that are affected by the decision. Matters affecting 4X5Y will be determined by the 8 separate management boards, and issues affecting 4VW will be decided by the 3 management boards in ENS after discussions with the 4X5Y management boards that fish under the 4VW management plan. Issues not relating to stock areas will be decided by all of the management boards including the 45-65 FG Board for a total of 12 separate boards. The provincial representatives or members representing the processing industry will not be included in the consensus.

Each Board will only present 1 position and where members of a specific board cannot present a unanimous position their position will not be counted. A quorum will be considered when a sufficient number of boards are present as follows.

For 4X5Y, a minimum of 5 management boards must be present and for 4VW a minimum of 2 management boards must be present. On non-stock related issues a minimum of 8 management boards are required. Prior to establishing a position the chair will determine if the decision affects a specific stock area or is a non-stock fixed gear issue and if the required quorum exists.

If, after sufficient discussion, the chairperson concludes that a consensus position is not possible, the issue will be resolved by a majority position as follows. Issues affecting 4X5Y, providing the minimum quorum is present, a majority position exists when no more than 2 management boards disagree. Issues affecting 4VW will require the minimum of 2 management boards from ENS to support an issue. A majority exists for non-stock issues when a dissenting opinion is expressed by no more than 2 management boards. All decisions are recommendations to DFO.

Advisors / secretariat

The DFO Scotia Fundy Senior Advisor for Groundfish will coordinate the activities of the committee with the Chairperson. The Senior Advisor will also be responsible for ensuring notices of meetings are sent to the membership and booking of meeting rooms.

Other DFO advisors may be present at any meeting, either specifically at the request of the committee or, as part of their duties with DFO. Those advisors may include staff from enforcement, area manager’s offices, statistics, licensing or economics branch. Provincial personnel, other than the regular provincial government representatives may also be invited to attend to discuss projects, policy, legislation, marketing or other topics.

Meetings

Meetings will be held at least 2 times a year---1 in the fall, after the release of the Stock Status Reports and then after the release of the Minister’s decisions on groundfish quotas to develop overall conservation-harvesting requirements.

Agendas for meetings will be circulated 14 days in advance so that each Board is prepared to speak to the issues.

Meetings may also be called in the following fashion:

Observers may speak at the meeting if they make a request prior to the meeting, identifying the agenda item, or if time permits.

Minutes

Minutes of the committee meetings will be recorded by a member of the DFO staff designated to do so. The minutes will be reviewed by the chairperson and the Senior Groundfish Advisor for accuracy before being sent to the members. The Minutes will be sent 14 days prior to a scheduled meeting.

Observers

Observers are welcome at all times. However, only members of the committee will sit at the table. If observers wish to speak, they must speak through their representative at the table or if not a member of an organization represented at the table, must request the opportunity to speak prior to the meeting.

Media

Advisory committee meetings are normally open to the media and the general public. Closures will be invoked upon request of members and mutual agreement of the membership. Media will generally not be permitted to film while the meeting is proceeding. The chairperson will identify members of the media present in the room before the meeting commences. Interviews or statements to the media will be made outside the meeting room, or limited to the chairperson.

Appendix 4: Gulf of Maine Advisory Committee Terms of Reference (April 29, 2016)

Purpose of the group

The Gulf of Maine Advisory Committee (GOMAC), a Canadian government/industry committee, was established in 1984. GOMAC serves as the forum wherein representatives of the fishing industry and governments can jointly develop and provide advice to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) pertaining to Gulf of Maine transboundary fisheries issues. Without restricting the generality of the foregoing, the Committee will advise on operational, technical and scientific analyses necessary to support formal discussions between Canada and the United States.

Membership

The Committee shall be co-chaired by an industry representative and the Regional Director General of the Maritimes Region. The industry co-chair shall serve a 2-year term that is renewable upon approval by the industry members of GOMAC.

The current membership of the Committee will be based on the following representation of industry, fishermen and government agencies. GOMAC membership can expand to include additional industry representatives as new fisheries and species are added to trans-boundary management and scientific assessment discussions:

Harvesting sector

Small pelagics

3 representatives

Lobster

1 representative

Groundfish

Representatives to be chosen by the harvester organizations with fishing history and on-going interest in the trans-boundary area and commercial species. The DFO/Industry groundfish advisory committees are the bodies to review and to determine the appropriate organizations.

Offshore scallop vessels

1 representative

Aboriginal harvesters

Processing/product export sector

6 representatives

Provincial governments

2 representatives

Federal government

Observers

Terms of conditions

The co-chairs of this forum will, every second year, initiate a review of the effectiveness of the committee and its Terms of Reference. All Forum members shall be invited to participate in the review. Items to be considered during the review include:

Nothing in these Terms of Reference implies or commits the Parties to specific financial liabilities or responsibilities. The Terms of Reference can be amended at any time with the approval of all members. The Terms of Reference may be terminated through the mutual agreement of the Parties or upon 30 days written notice.

Approval

GOMAC Co-Chair
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Maritimes Region

GOMAC Co-Chair
Seafood Producers Association of Nova Scotia

Appendix 5: Fixed gear <45' fleet North Atlantic right whale voluntary standard practices

Voluntary standard practices for the Scotia-Fundy Fixed Gear <45’ groundfish fishery for the protection of North Atlantic right whales (adopted February 2015)

Fishermen of the fixed gear <45’ groundfish fishery are committed to reducing the probability of entangling North Atlantic Right Whales (hereafter referred to as Right Whales) in their fishing gear. We recognize that many of our current fishing practices probably reduce the risk of whale entanglements if they are done correctly. This document outlines how the <45 fixed gear fleet will operate to minimize risk of entangling and harming Right Whales. The premise behind these recommendations is to minimize the amount of rope in the water column either by reducing the amount of line being used or by ensuring that gear is well set and has a low profile in the water column, reducing the likelihood that a whale will encounter gear, and reduce the severity of entanglements, should they occur. Additionally, <45 fixed gear fleet will operate to avoid vessel strikes through vigilance and reduced speeds. These measures are expected to benefit other species of cetaceans as well as sea turtles.

Entanglement

Working assumptions

Fishermen recognize that entanglements are clearly a threat to Right Whales, but there are a number of concepts to be kept in mind:

Principles

Fishermen agree that practices and measures implemented to reduce the threat of entangling right whales must:

Standard practices

Following are the practices being adopted by fishermen in the fixed gear <45’ groundfish fishery in order to ensure all fishing activity in this area is done in a relatively standard manner that reduces the probability of entangling Right Whales.

  1. Gear
  2. Some operations may require longer lengths than recommended here, but the overall goal should be to keep lines as short as possible and minimize the amount of rope in the water column, thus reducing the probability of whales encountering gear. Where possible, length of lines should be shorter than those recommended here.

  1. Operational practices
  1. Management

Other activities

Fishermen will be identified who are willing:

Vessel strikes

Principles

Fishermen recognize that vessel strikes, even from relatively small craft, pose a threat to Right Whales. Fishermen agree that practices and measures implemented to reduce the threat of vessel strikes must:

Practices

Final statement - Next steps

This document is not a final solution to this issue, but is considered a first step. We intend that as new information becomes available, this plan will be reviewed and amended where necessary.

This document was prepared in cooperation between the Fixed Gear <45’ Advisory Committee and DFO.

Sources of information

Voluntary standard practices for the lobster fishery to reduce excess line in the water column for the protection of North Atlantic Right Whales, prepared for Lobster Fishing Areas 33 and 34

Mitigation Strategy 2012-2013: Right Whale / Lobster Fishing Gear Interactions Lobster Fishing Areas 36, 37, and 38

Fisheries and Oceans Canada. 2014. Recovery Strategy for the North Atlantic Right Whale (Eubalaena glacialis) in Atlantic Canadian Waters [Final]. Species at Risk Act Recovery Strategy Series. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ottawa. vii + 68 pp

Vanderlaan, A.S.M. and C.T. Taggart. 2007. Vessel Collisions with whales: the probability of lethal injury based on vessel speed. Mar. Mam. Sci. 23(1):144-156.

Figure 1: Procedures for reporting right whale sightings
Figure 2: Procedures for reporting entangled, injured or dead whales, dolphins, or porpoises

Appendix 6: Compliance and enforcement activity

Groundfish violations by type: 2011 to 2016
Violation type 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Grand total
Closed area or time 16 11 6 1 8 8 50
Assault/obstruction/false statement 3 1 8 3 1 1 17
Foreign - unauthorized entry/fishing           2 2
Gear - illegal/used illegally 16 12 14 11 9 33 95
Gear conflict 1 2 1       4
Illegal buy/sell/possess 473 15 8 12 33 29 570
Illegal transportation   1 2   8   11
Quota/bag limits 4 2 1 1 2 2 12
Registration/licence 66 62 81 42 66 83 400
Reporting 428 322 99 75 99 69 1092
Species/size limit 4 11 9 7 22 9 62
Grand total 1011 439 229 152 248 236 2315

Notes: This data comes from the Departmental Violations System. The 2 cases labelled as foreign involved Canadian vessels fishing in the St. Pierre (France) zone. Many of the Illegal Buy/Sell/Possess and Reporting cases were identified as part of major investigations.

Outcomes of groundfish cases
Action taken 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Grand total
Conviction 32 44 34 24 38 17 189
Charges no conviction or pending 74 246 45 35 97 93 590
Charges not approved 83 21 13 5 17 13 152
Diverted (alternative measures)   1         1
Inspector's directions (habitat)           1 1
Seizure(s) - persons unknown     2 1 1 1 5
Ticket issued   2         2
Warning issued 822 125 135 87 95 111 1375
Grand total 1011 439 229 152 248 236 2315

Notes: Although not shown here, courts have imposed some significant licence suspensions and prohibition orders for the most serious cases.

Breakdown of fines imposed for the convictions in the above table
Greater than $50,000 1
$10,000 to $50,000 8
$5,000 to $9,999 28
$2,500 to $4,999 42
$1,000 to $2,499 55
$500 to $999 31
Less than $500 24

Note: An individual found guilty in 2016 of a breach of a court order prohibiting fishing activity was sentenced to 6 month’s house arrest in addition to other conditions. A second person involved in a similar offence has not yet gone to trial.

Issues analysis for 2015 and 2016 violations
Issue 2015 2016 Grand total Comments
Buy/sell recreationally caught groundfish   2 2  
Delayed or inaccurate logbook completion 18 19 37  
Discarding/dumping   3 3 Mostly Silver hake
Exceeded halibut by catch 1   1  
Exceeded incidental catch limit (3Ps) 1   1  
Exceeded recreational limit   2 2  
Failure to produce document or personal registration 40 56 96 Need ticketing system
Failure to separate species in holds 3 4 7  
False statement 3 1 4  
Fish rendered unidentifiable or uncountable 11 6 17 Mostly halibut
Fishing in close time or area 2 8 10 Mostly close time, 1 incident in nursery area, 1 in coral closure
Fishing in French zone   2 2 Illegal under Canadian law
Gear not stowed in a closed area 2 1 3  
Illegal bait 1   1  
Illegal gear   2 2  
Illegal possession of fish 14 20 34 Mostly halibut
Illegal transportation 7   7  
Improperly marked vessel or gear 3   3  
Inaccurate hail 34 18 52 Frequently halibut
Insufficient hail time 4 16 20  
Mesh size or obstruction in mobile gear 6 21 27  
No dockside observer or fish not weighed 30 9 39 Failure to weigh or avoided DMP completely
No licence or not authorised to fish for species 11 15 26  
Non designated operator 5 11 16  
Not specified 7   7  
Obstruction of Fishery Officer 1   1  
Retained lobster bycatch 2   2  
Shark by catch or fins issue 2   2  
Undersized halibut 21 4 25  
Violation of court order prohibiting fishing   3 3 Involved serious repeat offenders
VMS not transmitting 19 13 32 Administrative error or electrical problems but occuring too often
Grand total 248 236 484  

This analysis involved a review of all 2015 and 2016 cases. For some incidents, there were multiple occurrences of the same issue involving several individuals.

Breakdown of the species involved in the above issues analysis
Species 2015 2016 Total
Halibut - Atlantic 167 132 299
Groundfish - unspecified 53 47 100
Haddock 12 24 36
Flounder species 5 12 17
Redfish 1 12 13
Cod 2 5 7
Hake - silver 3   3
Pollock 1 2 3
Herring - Atlantic   2 2
Lobster 2   2
Shark - mako 1   1
Shark - porbeagle 1   1
Grand Total 248 236 484
Groundfish enforcement hours by year
  2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 Grand total
Groundfish enforcement hours 38244 34634.25 25780.25 15715 14725.25 17694 19541.75 166334.5
% of all enforcement hours 32.86% 31.30% 25.57% 14.99% 14.35% 18.34% 20.50% 22.88%

Notes: This data comes from C&P’s Fishery Officer Enforcement Activity Tracking System. Groundfish hours are typically second only to lobster. Other key activities would be scallops, snow crab, tuna and swordfish, contaminated shellfish areas and freshwater/diadromous fisheries. The high hours in 2010 and 2011 resulted from major investigations into halibut misreporting.

Enforcement activity
  2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Patrol vessel (days) 63.8 85.1 82.5 71.9 83.2 83.3
Aerial surveillance (hours) TBC 447.15 496.11 459.29 491.29 462.72
At Sea Observer coverage (# trips) 382 418 587 424 493 562

Appendix 7: Atlantic cod

Image of Atlantic cod
Atlantic cod
(Gadus morhua)

General overview

Atlantic cod is a bottom dwelling North Atlantic fish ranging from Georges Bank to northern Labrador in the Canadian Atlantic. There are several concentrations of cod within this range and cod in the Maritimes Region is divided into 5 stocks for fisheries management purposes:

  1. Eastern Georges Bank in NAFO Division 5Zjm (Fig. 2);
  2. Bay of Fundy and Western Scotia Shelf in NAFO Divisions 4X5Y;
  3. Eastern Shelf in NAFO Division 4VsW; 
  4. Cape Breton resident cod in NAFO Division 4Vn (May-October), and
  5. Southern Gulf cod in Division 4T and 4Vn (November-April).

Tagging has shown some directional mixing between NAFO Divisions 4X and 5Zjm but current agreements for cod stock management between Canada and US assume no significant exchange between Georges Bank and NAFO Division 4X. 

Cod is harvested in the multi-species groundfish fishery. Cod quotas have been reduced since the 1990s, leading to less directed fishing for cod and changes in fishing gear and practices.

The eastern Georges Bank cod stock in Division 5Zjm is a transboundary resource managed collaboratively with the United States (US). NAFO areas 4VsW and 4Vn are under moratorium and only limited bycatch is permitted. General measures used in the fisheries have been included in the general text of the IFMP and measures specific to the individual fishery are discussed below.

Table: Cod landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
Year 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 269,770 16209 81,638 1,420,970 701,788
2012-2013 154,054 18167 89,631 1,201,332 395,030
2013-2014 557,501 5693 80,569 1,208,698 384,457
2014-2015 301,864 9783 95,123 1,212,825 429,921
2015-2016 193,309 10624 62,637 669,213 475,640

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

COSEWIC assessment

In its 2003 assessment of Atlantic cod, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) designated the Maritimes designatable unit (DU) Special Concern. In April 2010, COSEWIC re-assessed Atlantic cod; in this assessment, the Maritimes DU was split into 2 populations – the Laurentian South DU and the Southern DU – both of which were designated Endangered. The Southern DU comprises the management units of eastern Georges Bank (5Zjm) and southern Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy (4X5Y). The Laurentian South DU includes the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence (4T) and the Eastern Scotian Shelf (4VW). Further information is available at www.sararegistry.gc.ca.

A recovery potential assessment (RPA) was carried out by DFO Science to provide the information and scientific advice required to inform decisions regarding the listing of Laurential South DU and Southern DU cod under the Act and developing recovery strategies (DFO 2011a, DFO 2011d). 

Management measures

Small fish area closures

Small fish area closures may be enacted for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish (43cm) reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch.

Objectives, strategies and tactics

Section 6 identifies the general Objectives, strategies and tactics followed under this management plan. Table 5 outlines the strategies and tactics, incorporating the reference points, which are applied to achieve the objectives for the stock. Harvest strategies for each fishery are identified below.

Eastern Georges Bank (5Zjm) Atlantic cod

The last assessment for Eastern Georges Bank (5Zjm) was completed by the TRAC in 2016 (TRAC 2016).

Access and allocation

Domestic Sharing Arrangements

The TAC is fully allocated to fleet sectors according to established percentage shares; these shares are considered stable. An overview of the shares is available at the Stable Atlantic Sharing Arrangements website.

Country Sharing Arrangements

As discussed in Section 7.1 country shares are subject to change annually. The table below identifies the TAC and country shares for 2016 and 2017.

  2016 2017
  TAC (t) Quota (t) Share TAC (t) Quota (t) Share
    Canada US Canada US   Canada US Canada US
Cod 625 488 138 78% 22% 730 584 146 80% 20%

Management measures

The use of a horizontal separator panel when fishing with mobile gear became mandatory in 1999 when an at-sea observer was not on board the vessel. Since 2009, the separator panel has been mandatory at all times.

Objectives, strategies and tactics

TMGC harvest strategy

The Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC) has adopted a strategy to maintain a low to neutral risk of exceeding the fishing mortality reference, FREF. At the 2013 Eastern Georges Bank cod benchmark meeting, it was agreed that FREF = 0.18 is not consistent with the VPA “M 0.8” model. At the 2014 TRAC, it was agreed that F = 0.11 was a more appropriate fishing mortality reference point for the VPA “M 0.8” model than FREF. When stock conditions are poor, fishing mortality rates should be further reduced to promote rebuilding (TRAC 2016).

Domestic approach

In addition to the harvest strategy developed by the TMGC, a strategy that is compliant with Canadian policy guidance has also been developed for this stock. These objectives, strategies and reference points describe explicitly to the management of the stock within Canada. They may also be used to guide Canadian members during negotiations at the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee (TMGC), who will advance positions consistent with these objectives. 

Fishing mortality limit reference (F) = 0.11

Limit Reference Point (LRP) = 21,000 t

The Limit Reference Point is based on a Beverton-Holt stock-recruitment model (Clark et. al. 2011).

Upper Stock Reference (USR) = 34,000 t

The upper stock reference point was established in 2013 through discussions at the Gulf of Maine Advisory Committee. This value would approximate 80% of the current estimated value for BMSY and is about twice the level that would be the LRP if it was based on the 40% BMSY using the current productivity regime.

Strategies and tactics employed for this stock are consistent with those described in section 6.2.

Plan enhancement

Two areas for enhancement have been identified within the IFMP.

  1. Further research is needed on the biological mechanism of high natural mortality, especially predator/prey interactions, reliable estimation of natural mortality in the assessment model, as well changes to fishing mortality reference points in response to changes in natural mortality.
  2. Under DFO’s Fishery-Decision Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach, when a stock is in the Critical zone but still being fished, a rebuilding plan must be in place with the aim of having a high probability of the stock growing out of the Critical zone within a reasonable timeframe. A rebuilding plan for 5Z Atlantic cod is being initiated in 2017/18, with the intent of finalizing the plan by the end of the 2018/19 quota year.

4X5Y Atlantic cod

The TAC for the 4X5Y cod fishery has been set at 1650t from 2011to 2015, a level which was expected to result in an F=0.11, based on the results of the last full stock assessment in 2009. Subsequent Stock Status updates (DFO 2015a, DFO 2017c) have shown that the RV survey biomass index declined with fishing at this level, with the 2013 value being the lowest on record. In response, the TAC was reduced by 50% in 2015 to a 1650t 2 year TAC, to be caught over the 2015/16 and 2016/17 period. This catch level (1650t total) has also been established for the 2017/18 and 2018/19 quota years.

The next complete stock assessment is expected in 2018/19.

Objectives, strategies and tactics

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in this fishery to achieve the objectives outlined above. The following reference points have been established for the 4X5Y cod stock:

Fishing mortality target reference (FREF) = 0.2

The fishing mortality target reference of 0.2 was determined in the 1980’s and approximated F0.1, a fishing mortality target that was widely used at the time (Gough and Kenchington 1995). This continues to be a management target for the stock when in the Healthy zone.

Fishing mortality reference for the Critical zone = 0.1

The fishing mortality reference for the Critical zone was established in 2011 through discussions at the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 24,000 t

The limit reference point was established at the December 2010 Atlantic cod framework meeting (Clark et. al. 2011).

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 48,000 t

The upper stock reference point was established in 2011 through discussions at the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee. This value was adopted because 48,000 t is a value twice the LRP and will provide sufficient opportunity for the management system to recognize and react to a decline from the Healthy zone. Also, the “default” position in the fishery decision making framework for implementing the Precautionary Approach indicates that 40% and 80% of BMSY may be used as the LRP and USR (i.e. the USR is twice the level of the LRP).

Strategies and tactics employed for this stock are consistent with those described in section 6.2.

Access and allocation

Domestic Sharing Arrangements

The TAC is fully allocated to fleet sectors according to established percentage shares; these shares are considered stable. An overview of the shares is available at the Stable Atlantic Sharing Arrangements website /fisheries-peches/consultation/sharing-partage/sasa-2010-epsa-eng.htm

Plan enhancement

Under DFO’s Fishery-Decision Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach, when a stock is in the Critical zone but still being fished, a rebuilding plan must be in place with the aim of having a high probability of the stock growing out of the Critical zone within a reasonable timeframe. A rebuilding plan for 4X5Y Atlantic cod is being developed in 2017/18.

4VsW Atlantic cod

There is no directed fishery for Atlantic cod in 4VsW and bycatch is limited to 10% when directing for other groundfish species, but landings are well below this level.

The spawning stock biomass (SSB) of 4VsW cod reached the lowest level observed in the 53-year record in 2003 at about 7,500 t (DFO 2011a). After that time, the stock grew rapidly for a period of time, but exceeded the LRP only in 2009. Since 2009, biomass indices in the research vessel survey (RV survey) have declined again, reaching the lowest level in the time series in 2016. At the recovery potential assessment in 2010, fishing mortality of 4VsW cod at the level of the bycatch fishery was determined to be negligible (DFO 2011a).

The only additional action identified in the 2010 recovery potential assessment that could be taken to improve the chances for recovery of 4VsW cod would be action to reduce the rate of natural mortality on adult (5+) cod. Predation by grey seals is considered to be a significant component of natural mortality but its relative contribution is of unknown magnitude.

Objectives, strategies and tactics

Harvest Strategy

The following reference points were adopted by SFGAC on September 26, 2012 and have been established for the 4VsW cod stock:

Fishing mortality target reference (FREF) = 0.2

The fishing mortality target reference of 0.2 was determined in the 1980’s and approximated F0.1 at the time, a fishing mortality target that was widely used at the time. This continues to be a management target for the stock when in the Healthy zone.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 50,000 t

The limit reference point was determined following the December 2010 Atlantic cod Framework meeting (DFO 2011a, 2011b).

Upper stock reference point (USR) = [100,000 t]

The upper stock reference point is under consideration by the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee. The value of 100,000 t is a value twice the LRP and will provide sufficient opportunity for the management system to recognize and react to a decline from the Healthy zone. Also, the “default” position in the fishery decision making framework for implementing the Precautionary Approach indicates that 40% and 80% of BMSY may be used as the LRP and USR (i.e. the USR is twice the level of the LRP).

Strategies and tactics employed for this stock are consistent with those described in section 6.2.

4Vn Atlantic cod

Two cod stocks are found in the 4Vn area (DFO 2011a). Southern Gulf (Division 4T) cod overWinter along the southern slope of the Laurentian Channel, migrating into the 4Vn area in November and back into Southern Gulf in April and early May. Until recently, this stock was by far the largest component of the Laurentian South DU (Divisions 4TVW). There is also a distinct spawning component known as the 4Vn resident stock. The 4Vn stock is present in the Sydney Bight area from May to October, but migrates offshore in winter, mixing with the southern Gulf stock during this period. The 4Vn stock is the smallest component of the DU, comprising only 2-4% of total biomass.

Due to the moratorium on cod fishing in 4Vn no assessment has been completed since 2010. At that time the biomass was about 2,250 t, or about 25% of the limit reference point (DFO 2011a).

A bycatch cap of 270t/year for 4Vn cod was adopted by SFGAC in March 2015, to ensure that the bycatch does not exceed recent levels.

Objectives, strategies and tactics

The following reference points have been established for the 4Vn cod stock and adopted by the SFGAC on September 26, 2012.

Considering the current outlook for the stock, there are no proposed measures for when the stock is in the healthy or Cautious zone.

Fishing mortality target reference (FREF) = 0.2

The fishing mortality target reference of 0.2 was determined in the 1980’s and approximated F0.1 at the time, a fishing mortality target that was widely used at the time. This continues to be a management target for the stock when in the Healthy zone.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 8,400 t

The limit reference point was established at the December 2010 Atlantic cod Framework meeting (DFO 2011b). The LRP is based on the Research Vessel survey and approximates a Brecover value corresponding to the 1973 to 1978 mean.

Upper stock reference point (USR) = [16,800 t]

An upper stock reference point has been proposed but not established for this stock.

STRATEGIES TACTICS
Productivity
Keep fishing mortality of 4Vn cod moderate by using the following references and risk tolerances:
  • When the SSB is below the limit reference point (LRP), the harvest strategy is to be results-driven rather than based on a predetermined harvest rate. Rebuilding to a level above the LRP should be achieved in a reasonable timeframe (1.5 to 2 generations) with a high degree of probability. The TAC should be set with a very low risk of biomass decline. To achieve this, the TAC will be reviewed every 5 years with an aim of keeping catches at the lowest possible level. This review will explicitly consider whether the stock is increasing or decreasing, whether the trajectory (growth or decline) is expected to continue, and indications of incoming recruitment, among any other relevant considerations.
  • Total allowable catch (may be expressed as quota caps)

Appendix 8: Haddock

Image of Atlantic haddock
Atlantic haddock
(Melanogrammus aeglefinus)

General overview

Atlantic haddock is a North Atlantic fish ranging from Georges Bank to northern Labrador in the Canadian Atlantic. There are several concentrations of haddock within this range and haddock in the Maritimes Region haddock is divided into 3 stocks for assessment and fisheries management purposes: 

  1. Eastern Georges Bank in NAFO Division 5Zjm (Fig. 2);
  2. Bay of Fundy and Southern Scotia Shelf in NAFO Divisions 4X5Y; and
  3. Eastern Scotian Shelf (4TVW)

Haddock is the key harvested species in the multi-species groundfish fishery on Eastern Georges Bank. Gears used to prosecute the fishery tend to capture a variety of groundfish species. Conservation Harvesting Plans indicate which species may be the target of a directed fishery and set out the measures that apply to non-target species (e.g. cusk, white hake, and monkfish). All non-groundfish species must be returned to the water, with the exception of those species whose retention is specifically permitted within licence conditions.

Participants are authorized to use otter trawl or fixed gears (e.g. baited hook and line, gillnets) to fish for haddock during the season which commences on January 1st and concludes on December 31st. The Eastern Georges Bank haddock stock is comprised of NAFO Division 5Zjm (Figure 2) and is a transboundary resource managed collaboratively with the United States.

The 4X5Y haddock stock is comprised of the entirety of NAFO Division 4X, as well as the portion of NAFO Division 5Y which lies within Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (Figure 1). Haddock is the target of commercial, recreational and food, social and ceremonial (FSC) fisheries.

Haddock in NAFO Divisions 4TVW are under moratorium and only limited bycatch is permitted. 

General measures used in the fisheries have been included in the general text of the IFMP and measures specific to the individual fishery are discussed below.

Table: Haddock landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 13,868 83 30,218 4,511,261 11,234,172
2012-2013 22,229 12 41,094 3,328,415 5,033,747
2013-2014 40,730 12 50,930 3,338,918 4,621,074
2014-2015 12,582 206 36,240 3,003,484 12,956,955
2015-2016 41,056 566 62,329 2,748,010 14,633,083

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Management measures

Small fish area closures

Small fish area closures may be enacted for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch. In 5Z the size is 38cm and 43 cm for all other areas.

In 2014, comparative fishing with different mesh sizes and configurations (125 mm square, 140 mm diamond and the standard 130mm square mesh) was undertaken on Georges Bank. The purpose was to compare catch rates and catch size composition among the different configurations, in hopes that catch rates could be improved without significantly increasing catches of undersized fish. Based on the results of that study and subsequent monitoring of the size composition of the commercial catch, use of 125mm mesh when directing for 5Z haddock has been authorized since summer 2015. 

5Zjm haddock

The last assessment for Eastern Georges Bank (5Zjm) was completed by the TRAC in 2015 (TRAC 2015).

Access and allocation

Domestic Sharing Arrangements

The TAC is fully allocated to fleet sectors according to established percentage shares; these shares are considered stable. An overview of the shares is available at the Stable Atlantic Sharing Arrangements website.

Country Sharing Arrangements

As discussed in Section 7.1 country shares are subject to change annually. The table below identifies the TAC and country shares for 2016 and 2017.

  2016 2017
  TAC (t) Quota (t) Share TAC (t) Quota (t) Share
    Canada US Canada US   Canada US Canada US
Haddock 37,000 21,830 15,170 59% 41% 50,000 20,500 29,500 41% 59%

Objectives, strategies and tactics

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in this fishery to achieve the objectives outlined in Section 6, incorporating the reference points, which are applied to achieve the objectives for the stock.

Fishing mortality limit reference (FREF) = 0.26

The fishing mortality limit reference was established by TMGC in 2002.

BMSY = 78,000 t

This value corresponds to the biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield. BMSY was calculated in 2012 using a Sissenwine-Shepherd production model (DFO 2012a).

Limit Reference Point (LRP) = 10,340 t

The Limit Reference Point is based on Brecover (DFO 2012a).

Upper Stock Reference (USR) = 40,000 t

The Upper Stock Reference is suggested on the basis of generally higher recruitment when SSB is above 40,000 t.

TMGC Harvest Strategy

The strategy is to maintain a low to neutral risk of exceeding the fishing mortality limit reference, FREF=0.26. When stock conditions are poor, fishing mortality rates should be further reduced to promote rebuilding.

4X5Y haddock

A TAC for haddock was first introduced in 1970 and is reviewed annually. The majority of haddock is caught using mobile gear with the remainder caught using longline, handline and gillnet gears. The TAC applies to the commercial fishery only.

The last assessment for Bay of Fundy and Southern Scotia Shelf in NAFO Divisions 4X5Y was completed in 2016 (DFO 2017a).

Objectives, strategies and tactics

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in this fishery to achieve the objectives outlined above. The following reference points were discussed during the April 2016 Stock Framework and November 2016 stock assessment peer review meetings for the 4X5Y haddock stock. This section also outlines the strategies and tactics, incorporating reference points, which are applied to achieve the objectives for the stock.

A number of approaches to setting fishing mortality targets were reviewed at the Framework meeting. F=0.25 corresponds to the estimated FMSY value from the Ricker model, with a 25% probability of exceeding Floss. This may be appropriate when the stock is in the Healthy zone, but was recommended as a limit and not a target for this stock. Fmedian = 0.15 was suggested as more appropriate for this stock, particularly in the Cautious zone:

Fishing mortality limit reference (FLIM) = 0.25

Fishing mortality target reference (FREF) = 0.15

Given that the poor stock recruit relationship precludes the calculation of Blim, Brecover was chosen as the lower reference. Brecover is defined as the lowest point on record from which the stock has recovered readily, but it is not necessarily the lowest level from which recovery is possible, and is therefore a more conservative reference point than Blim:

Limit reference point (LRP) = 19,700 t SSB (age 4+)

The poor stock recruit relationship also precluded the estimation of BMSY. Instead, the proposed upper stock reference point is twice the LRP and is the level at which the fishing mortality rate can be increased with a low risk to the stock. There is also some indication, presented at the Framework, that higher surplus production is more likely when age 1+ biomass exceeds 57,000t (approximately 40,000t SSB): 

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 40,000 t SSB (age 4+)

Productivity strategies and tactics
Keep fishing mortality of 4X5Y haddock moderate by using the following references and risk tolerances:
  • The TAC may be set with a low to neutral (50%) probability of exceeding the fishing mortality target reference (FREF) when it is above the LRP.
  • The TAC may be set with a low (less than 25%) probability of exceeding the fishing mortality limit reference (FLIM) when the SSB is above the USR.
  • The TAC should be set to mitigate declines and, when possible, promote positive change in spawning stock biomass (SSB) over a three-year period when it is below the upper stock reference (USR). The management response will vary depending on location of the stock within the Cautious zone, whether the stock is increasing or decreasing, whether the trajectory (growth or decline) is projected to continue, and indications of incoming recruitment to the SSB, for example. As such, the TAC may be set with a higher probability of exceeding FREF when the stock is in the upper part of the Cautious zone and expected to increase, while fishing mortality must be decreased as the stock progresses lower into the Cautious zone.
  • When the SSB is below the limit reference point (LRP), the harvest strategy is to be results-driven rather than based on a predetermined harvest rate. Rebuilding to a level above the LRP should be achieved in a reasonable timeframe (1.5 to 2 generations) with a high degree of probability (greater than 75%). The TAC (if appropriate) should be set with a very low (less than 5%) risk of preventable biomass decline.
  • Total allowable catch

Access and allocation

The TAC is fully allocated to fleet sectors according to established percentage shares; these shares are considered stable. An overview of the shares is available at the Stable Atlantic Sharing Arrangements website.

Plan enhancement

Two areas for enhancement have been identified within the IFMP for 4X5Y haddock:

  1. Accounting for all catch of 4X5Y haddock within the scientific assessment of this stock, whether caught recreationally, under a food, social and ceremonial (FSC) licence or as bycatch in a non-groundfish fishery; and
  2. Improved data collection at sea to be able to determine precise estimates of bycatch and discards

4TVW haddock

This fishery is under moratorium and a maximum cap of 10% bycatch fishery is permitted.

Indications from the RV survey since the moratorium in 1992 suggested that the stock rebuilt, and remained stable at a relatively high biomass level over the period 1999-2010. However, the growth of individual fish was slow and the average size was small, with poor commercial potential. Since 2010, the survey biomass index has dropped, to a level at or below that of the mid-1990s.

In 2013 and 2014, industry conducted a commercial haddock survey consisting of 2 trips in 2013 and 4 trips in 2014. In 2014, catch rates were highest in 4Vs (200kg/1hr tow) with a larger average length of haddock of 43 cm compared to 4W (200kg/1 hr tow and 37cm average length).    

No reference points or harvest control rules have been developed for this stock, and no stock assessment has been conducted since 2002. 

Appendix 9: Atlantic halibut

Image of Atlantic halibut
Atlantic halibut
(Hippoglossus hippoglossus)

General overview

The Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) is the largest of the flatfishes and ranges widely over Canada's East Coast. The management unit definition (3NOPs4VWX5Zc) is based largely on tagging results which indicate that Atlantic halibut move extensively throughout the Canadian North Atlantic with smaller fish moving further than larger fish. The stock area includes parts of 3NO outside of Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone, where halibut are caught in directed fisheries and as bycatch by Canada and other countries.

Assessment

The latest assessment was conducted in 2014 (DFO 2015b), subsequent stock status updates (DFO 2016a, DFO 2017d) using the Objectives and Harvest Strategy adopted by the SFGAC in 2015. Recent updates indicated that biomass continues to increase. This stock is on a 5-year assessment cycle; the next complete stock assessment is expected to take place in 2019.

Table: Halibut landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 188,414 48,040 753,543 656,380 22,489
2012-2013 212,833 54,539 761,533 696,626 29,183
2013-2014 294,330 46,250 879,446 895,446 33,066
2014-2015 347,623 37,860 968,804 856,591 21,656
2015-2016 414,641 69,432 1,051,895 1,034,252 21,897

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Management measures

A TAC was implemented in 1988 and a legal size limit (≥81 cm total length) was established in 1994.

Access and allocation

In 2016/17, a change was made to the shares for 3NOPs4VWX5Z Atlantic halibut to account for a longstanding allocation to a Newfoundland-based >100’ longline fleet called the “Scandinavian Longline” fleet. Their allocation was included as a share, with a corresponding reduction in other fleet shares:

  2015/16   2016/17  
  Shares Quotas Shares Quotas
Fixed gear 45' - 64' (4VWX,5) 12.941% 328.443 12.500% 379.868
Fixed gear 65' - 100' 19.650% 498.717 18.980% 576.802
Fixed gear < 45' (4VWX,5) 39.880% 1012.154 38.520% 1170.630
Fixed gear < 65' (3NO) 5.410% 137.306 5.226% 158.804
Fixed gear < 65' (3PS) 2.588% 65.683 2.500% 75.968
Mobile gear 65' - 100' 0.340% 8.629 0.328% 9.980
Mobile gear < 65' 2.941% 74.643 2.841% 86.330
Vessels > 100' 16.250% 412.425 15.696% 476.999
SLL allocation 3.530% 89.591 3.410% 103.619
  103.530% 2627.591 100.000% 3039.000

Objectives, strategies and tactics

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in this fishery to achieve the objectives outlined above. A new assessment procedure was adopted at the Atlantic halibut framework November 3-6, 2014. This procedure uses a new statistical catch-at-length model to assess the stock status and the impact of the fishery. The stock-recruit relationship for Atlantic halibut is not well described by the more commonly used models; therefore, interim reference points were chosen at the Atlantic halibut framework. The following reference points have been established for the 3NOPs4VWX+5 Atlantic halibut stock:

Fishing mortality target reference (FREF) <=0.14

The fishing mortality target reference was adopted by the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee in March 2015. Fishing mortality (F) at or below Natural Mortality (M=0.14) as used in the 2014 assessment models, has allowed the biomass to increase during recent years. Fishing mortality has been lower than natural mortality since 2008.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 2,600 t

The limit reference point was established during the November 2014 Atlantic halibut assessment. B_lim is defined as the minimum SSB in the time series (1982-2013) that produced 50% of the maximum recruitment. Using the SCAL model, B_lim is estimated to be 2,600 mt. Further information is available in Cox et al. (2016).

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 6,668 t

An interim upper stock reference point was established during the November 2014 Atlantic halibut assessment. B_USR is defined as the highest SSB in the time series to 2013. Using the SCAL model, B_USR is estimated to be 6,668 t. Further information is available in Cox et al. (2016).

Future advice

The general strategy is to limit TAC fluctuations and optimize catch levels while maintaining the SSB in the Healthy zone for the long-term. A constant F strategy is utilized for this stock between framework assessments. Within the constraint of F not to exceed M, the decision on the appropriate level for F is to be determined in the framework assessment year considering the acceptable level of risk for the stock in relation to the results of the long-term simulations. In the interim years, the change in the TAC will be based on the change in the biomass index provided by the rolling 3-year mean of the longline halibut survey, subject to the 15% maximum change. If during the interim period there are three years of the RV survey below its long-term mean, a framework assessment could be triggered.

Appendix 10: Redfish

Image of redfish

General overview

Two species of redfish are found in the Western Atlantic; Deepwater redfish (Sebastes mentella) and the Acadian redfish (Sebastes fasciatus). The southern range for Acadian redfish extends down to the Gulf of Maine while Deepwater redfish stop around the Laurentian Channel.

With overlapping ranges and morphological similarities these 2 species cannot be easily distinguished. They are managed as three management units within the Maritimes Region:

  1. The Gulf of St. Lawrence and Laurentian Channel (Unit 1), including NAFO divisions 4RST as well as 4Vn and 3Pn from January to May.
  2. The Laurentian Channel and parts of the Eastern Scotian Shelf (Unit 2), including NAFO divisions 3Ps, 4VsWfgj, as well as 4Vn and 3Pn from June to December.
  3. The Scotian Shelf stock (Unit 3) which includes the remainder of NAFO division 4W and 4X.

This resource is managed mainly by an annual total allowable catch. Other management measures (type of gear, area closures to protect fertilization and larval extrusion periods, observers, dockside monitoring, minimum size, bycatch monitoring, etc.) are also applied. Small fish closures for redfish are described in section 5.4.3.

Directed fishing on the Unit 1 redfish stock has been closed since 1995. While NAFO division 4Vn is considered to be part of Unit 1 for part of the year, this area is closed to redfish fishing during this time, so Unit 1 redfish are not fished in the Maritimes Region, though a small amount may be caught as bycatch in flatfish or halibut fishing. 

COSEWIC assessment

In 2010, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) designated S. mentella from the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Laurentian Channel Designatable Unit (DU) (Units 1 and 2) as endangered and S. fasciatus in the Atlantic DU (Unit 3 and including a portion of Unit 2) as threatened.

The results of an RPA of each of these populations in 2011 indicated that the spawning stock biomass of each of the 2 species was in the Critical zone (DFO 2012c). Redfish are slow growing and long lived species therefore there was concern that any recovery would be slow.

Table: Redfish landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 948,513 80,954 3,635,022 6,546,190 122,932
2012-2013 362,746 262,736 4,055,048 6,014,693 65,257
2013-2014 486,133 236,179 2,790,198 3,011,015 60,724
2014-2015 625,011 278,174 3,289,901 2,367,314 24,537
2015-2016 447,515 241,799 2,349,932 2,929,269 24,826

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Unit 2 redfish

Unit 2 redfish is managed by DFO in National Headquarters Region, and the primary consultative forum is the 3Ps Advisory Committee in Newfoundland. The latest assessment was conducted in 2015 (DFO 2016b). Average landings between 2010 and 2015 were well below the TAC which industry attributes to market conditions and restrictive management measures.

The assessment indicated that the spawning stock biomass for both species is still in the Critical zone, based on the 2011 precautionary approach. However there is the potential for strong very recruitment starting in 2018 from large cohorts from 2011, 2012 and 2013 if the survival of this recruitment can be maximized. Biomass has been increasing rapidly, although the majority of biomass is still below the minimum size of 22cm. A Unit 1 and 2 redfish Working Group, led by DFO in NHQ, has been working on a Rebuilding Strategy for these stocks. In March 2017, a Management Strategy Evaluation approach to the assessment and management of this fishery was launched. This process is expected to be finalized in 2018.

In recent years, the majority of Unit 2 redfish catch has been landed in the Maritimes Region.

Unit 3 redfish

The Scotian Shelf summer survey from 1970-2011 was used as the biomass index series at the last stock assessment for Unit 3 redfish. The index is in Western IIa swept area biomass equivalents. Historic genetic analyses indicate S. fasciatus is the predominant species. The catch series was from 1960 as reported to NAFO.

Management measures

Small fish area closures may be enacted for a minimum duration of 10 days for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish (<22cm) reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch.

Objectives, strategies and tactics

Empirically determined reference points were used for the Unit 3 S. fasciatus for which the current stock biomass and stock growth trajectory were determined using series Smoothed through use of a 5 year moving average.

The following reference points were determined during peer-review processes in 2011 and 2012 (DFO, 2012c) and accepted by the SFGAC at the September 26, 2012 advisory meeting. The smoothed stock index has never fallen below the limit reference point in terms of this method, which also indicates the stock to be currently well above the BMSY proxy. Strategies and tactics are outlined incorporating the reference points which are applied to achieve the objectives for the stock.

BMSY = 73,000 t (proxy)

Estimated using the RV survey mean mature biomass (>22cm). A proxy for BMSY, this value corresponds to the biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 29,000 t

The limit reference point is 40% of the BMSY for the stock. Further details are available in DFO 2012c.

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 58,000 t

The upper stock reference point is 80% of the BMSY for the stock.

Where there are references to “the Index” in the strategies below, this refers to the 5-year geometric mean of the >22cm RV survey biomass.

STRATEGIES TACTICS
Productivity
Keep fishing mortality of Unit 3 redfish moderate by using the following references and risk tolerances:
  • The TAC may be set to achieve a maximum 9% exploitation rate, based on the Index, when it is above the upper stock reference (USR). When the stock is above BMSY, a moderate increase in exploitation rate may be considered, not to exceed 12%.
  • The TAC should be set to mitigate declines and, when possible, promote positive change in mature biomass over a three-year period when it is below the upper stock reference (USR). The TAC may be set to achieve a maximum 6% exploitation rate, based on the index; however, it is required that the exploitation rate will decline as the stock progresses lower into the Cautious zone. The management response will vary depending on location of the stock within the Cautious zone, whether the stock is increasing or decreasing, whether the trajectory (growth or decline) is projected to continue, and indications of incoming recruitment to the SSB, for example.
  • When the mature biomass is below the limit reference point (LRP), the harvest strategy is to be results-driven rather than based on a predetermined harvest rate. Rebuilding to a level above the LRP should be achieved in a reasonable timeframe (1.5 to 2 generations) with a high degree of probability. The TAC (if appropriate) should be set with a very low risk of preventable biomass decline and the exploitation rate should not exceed 3% of the Index.
  • Total allowable catch
  • Small fish area closures

Appendix 11: Silver hake

General overview

In the Maritimes Region the silver hake population occurs in the NAFO Divisions 4VWX, and is landed by the mobile gear fleets. Total landings have been below the TAC for many years but appear to be constrained by market conditions rather than abundance. Indications from the summer RV survey are that the 2014 biomass is the highest since the 1980s due to a strong recruitment pulse which will be reduced in the following years. (DFO 2015d). Based on observer records, bycatch constitutes less than 4% of the total observed catch.

Because it is prosecuted with small mesh, the fishery is only authorized in certain areas, the Emerald and LaHave Basins and outside the “Small Mesh Gear Line” along the Scotian Shelf break (DFO 2015d).  

Table: Silver hake landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 8,315,543 920,268  
2012-2013 8,505,857 153,444  
2013-2014 7,747,229 35,823  
2014-2015 6,789,579 129,798 114
2015-2016 6,287,678 468,838  

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2014)

Objectives, strategies and tactics

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in this fishery to achieve the objectives outlined in Section 6. The following reference points have been established for the 4VWX silver hake stock (DFO 2013) and with final adoption by the SFGAC on January 20, 2015:

Fishing mortality target reference (FTARGET) ≤ 0.24

Fishing mortality target reference points were established by the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee in 2015. The FTARGET follows a stepwise approach decreasing as the biomass decreases from the Healthly Zone to the Critical zone. Notwithstanding the target limits established in the harvest strategy, a lower (FTARGET) may be recommended to address productivity objectives for the stock, broader biological considerations, and social and economic objectives for the fishery provided there is a consensus among quota holders to do so.

Fishing mortality limit reference (FLIM) = 0.32

The fishing mortality limit reference was established at the December 2012 stock assessment. This value corresponds to the calculated value of FMSY – the fishing mortality that produces maximum sustainable yield.

Biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) = 59,000 t

BMSY for this stock was calculated during the December 2012 stock assessment. 

Limit reference point (LRP) = 23,600 t

The limit reference point was established during the December 2012 stock assessment. The limit reference point is 40% of the calculated BMSY for the stock. 

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 47,200 t

The upper stock reference point was established in 2013 through discussions at the Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee and informed by the December 2012 stock assessment. The upper stock reference point is 80% of the calculated BMSY for the stock.

STRATEGIES TACTICS
Productivity
Keep fishing mortality of 4VWX silver hake moderate by using the following references and risk tolerances:
  • When the biomass is above the upper stock reference (USR), in the Healthy zone, the TAC may be set to an FTARGET =.24. This (FTARGET) is subject to a reduction as low as 0.1 if the stock is in a declining trajectory and is nearing the USR. The determination of the risk tolerance within that range will depend on additional considerations, including but not limited to:  indications of incoming recruitment to the fishery; the population age structure; the projected trajectory of the SSB; and market conditions.
  • When the biomass is between the upper stock reference and the limit reference point, in the Cautious zone, in The TAC should be set to mitigate declines and, when possible, promote positive change in spawning stock biomass (SSB) over a three-year period. It is required that fishing mortality will decline as the stock progresses lower into the Cautious zone. The TAC may be set to a FTARGET = 0.1, subject to a reduction as low as 0.05 if the stock is in a declining trajectory and is nearing the LRP. The management response will vary depending on location of the stock within the Cautious zone, whether the stock is increasing or decreasing, whether the trajectory (growth or decline) is projected to continue, and indications of incoming recruitment to the SSB, for example.
  • When the biomass is below the limit reference point (LRP), in the Critical zone, the harvest strategy is to be results-driven rather than based on a predetermined harvest rate. Rebuilding to a level above the LRP should be achieved in a reasonable timeframe (1.5 to 2 generations) with a high degree of probability (greater than 75%). The TAC (if appropriate) should be set with a very low (less than 5%) risk of preventable biomass decline. 
  • Total allowable catch

Appendix 12: Spiny dogfish

Image of redfish

General overview

Spiny dogfish migrate seasonally, their distribution shifting between US and Canadian waters as many migrate south in Winter and north in summer, with the Gulf of Maine roughly corresponding to a centre of distribution in the Northwest Atlantic. However, the Transboundary Resources Assessment Committee (TRAC) failed to reach an agreement on a population model for the Northwest Atlantic spiny dogfish and subsequently the 2 countries independently developed spiny dogfish stock and population models.

The Canadian population model provides a reasonable basis for defining reference points and precautionary catch levels but cannot be rigorously updated without USA data. Population estimates indicate a dramatic increase in spiny dogfish abundance during the 1980s, peaking about 1992, and then declining. The updated model demonstrates increased abundance since 2009, especially of juveniles. The 2014 stock assessment indicated that adult females have remained at relatively high abundance since 2009 (DFO 2014b), but more recent investigation has suggested that these estimates may have been too high (DFO 2016c). A framework to review the methodology is expected in 2017.

Most Atlantic Canadian landings of spiny dogfish have historically been taken in longline and gillnet fisheries. The TAC was set at 2,500 t until 2014 and increased to 10,000 t based on the 2014 stock assessment (DFO, 2014b) which indicated that the population was abundant and healthy. The TAC was subsequently reduced by 20% in 2016/17 following science advice indicating that the uncertainty around the stock status had increased (DFO, 2016c). Total landings have been well below the TAC but appear to be constrained by market conditions rather than abundance.

COSEWIC assessment

The Atlantic population of spiny dogfish was assessed as special concern by COSEWIC in April of 2010. The species remains relatively abundant in Canadian waters, but low fecundity, long generation time (23 years), uncertainty regarding abundance of mature females, and demonstrated vulnerability to overfishing in adjacent U.S. waters were identified as causes for concern. A decision on whether or not to list the species under SARA is pending.

Table: Spiny dogfish landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012   242 121,700  
2012-2013   359 64,661  
2013-2014 10 293 5,427  
2014-2015   145 53,621 77
2015-2016   43 491  

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Access and allocation

The TAC for the FG <45’ fishery for spiny dogfish is currently 8000 t (for 2016/17), of which 4000t is allocated to the FG <45’ directed fishery in Maritimes Region and 4000t is set aside to cover bycatch in all other gear types and Regions. Spiny dogfish can be landed as bycatch in the other groundfish fleets but the catch must fall within established percentage limits, generally no more than 10% of the groundfish species on board the vessel.

All groundfish vessels have the option to return dogfish to the water at any time but must do so once the TAC or the quota cap for a fleet has been reached. Incidentally caught spiny dogfish must be released in all fisheries without approved bycatch.

Objectives, strategies and tactics

During the 2014 assessment, the following Harvest Control Rules were developed for the spiny dogfish fishery and were presented to the SFGAC in October 2014.

Abundance of adult females (SSN) and fishing mortality on adult females (FSSN) are used to evaluate stock status. Spiny dogfish was considered to be above the USR, i.e., in the Healthy zone at the 2014 stock assessment. Since the Harvest Control Rules for spiny dogfish are based on adult female abundance the increased uncertainty around the stock status will have implications in relation to the reference points.

Fishing mortality limit reference (FREF) = 0.072

FSSN at maximum sustainable yield (FSSNMSY) is suggested as a fishing mortality reference point (FREF).

Biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) = 41 million adult females

Limit reference point (LRP) = 21.3 million adult females

65% of SSNMSY (21.3 million adult females) is proposed as a LRP.

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 32.8 million adult females

Given the low productivity and associated recovery time of spiny dogfish, SSNMSY(32.8 million adult females) is proposed as the USR.

Appendix 13: Flatfish

General overview

Flatfish have historically been harvested as a directed multispecies fishery with mobile gear. The major species are American plaice, winter flounder, witch flounder and yellowtail flounder. In 4X5Y, only winter flounder may be targeted, with other species limited to bycatch only. Other than American plaice no flatfish species has reference points. 

Resource Management uses the data from DFO conducted summer RV surveys in NAFO 4VWX and a small portion of 5Y and Winter RV surveys in 5Z to provide information on trends in abundance for flounder species in the Maritimes Region. These data reflect trends in biomass and abundance and are used as a basis for discussion with industry when a full assessment is not available. 

For fixed gear fisheries, 4X5Y and 4VW flounders are a quota species, but catch is limited to bycatch only as the available quota for the FG <45’ sector is low. 

Table: Research Vessel survey biomass indices (t) for species by stock/region for 2013, 2014, 2015 and averages for long-term (1970-2014) and medium-term 15-year (2000-2014) time periods (DFO. 2016d)
Stock/Region 2013 2014 2015 1970-2014
Avg.
2000-2014
Avg.
4X American plaice 312 525 273 1,982 1,081
4VW American plaice 19,559 3,369 5,669 23,320 14,774
           
4X witch flounder 869 1,592 1,684 1,797 1,372
4VW witch flounder 4,773 2,323 2,932 3,942 4,254
           
4X yellowtail flounder 102 119 466 651 765
4VW yellowtail flounder 14,646 11,485 9,690 13,524 10,123
5Z yellowtail flounder* 629 462 741 n/a 16,849
           
4X winter flounder 6,448 2,673 6,251 3,557 5,341
4VW winter flounder 426 431 1,366 883 526

*5Z yellowtail flounder indices are based on the 5Z Winter RV survey (TRAC 2016).

Management measures

Prior to the 2015/16 fishing year the mobile gear fleets could direct for flatfish in 4VWX. For the 2015/16 season changes were made to the management of flatfish in 4VW and 4X5. In 4VW, the 1000t TAC was maintained for flounders, but no more than 500t of that may be American plaice. In 4X5, the TAC was reduced from 2000t of unspecified flounder TAC to a 1600t winter flounder TAC.  Bycatch limits have been set at 10% for American plaice, 10% yellowtail and 20% for witch flounder.

Licence conditions require identification and separation of flounder species. In 4X5, hailing-out is permitted only for winter flounder and not for “flounder unspecified”, American plaice, yellowtail, or witch flounder. Landings in 4X5 reported as “flounder” or “flatfish” are counted against the licence holder’s winter flounder quota.

The following table indicates the success of the changes in management for reducing landings of unspecified species of flounder.

Table: Unspecified flounder landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 14,688   450 131,423 3,777
2012-2013 34   1,349 86,137 2,586
2013-2014 4,656   33,197 57,657 181
2014-2015     251 59,025 560
2015-2016     259 12,497 7

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Small fish area closures

Small fish area closures may be enacted for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch. In 4VWX a flatfish is considered undersized below 30cm except witch flounder at 33 cm.

American plaice

American plaice must be landed in all groundfish fisheries, whether as a directed fishery (mixed flounders fisheries in 4VW, witch flounder/American plaice fishery in 4T), or as a bycatch in other groundfish fisheries. In 4X5Y, there is no directed fishing for American plaice and bycatch is limited to no more than 10% on a trip basis. 

Table: American plaice landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 6,358 9 2,471 26,207 1,138
2012-2013 7,301 137 162,619 19,717 290
2013-2014 12,882   244,773 15,029 109
2014-2015 1,911   33,310 467 43
2015-2016 1,588 3 30,630 6,824 44

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Landings have been decreasing in all areas and the RV summer survey indicates that the biomass index for both 4X and 4VW is below the long and mid-term means. Current length frequency distributions show significant fewer animals particularly at the larger sizes.

COSEWIC assessment

The Atlantic population of Atlantic plaice was assessed as threatened by COSEWIC in April of 2009. Although directed fishing has been reduced the species remains susceptible to overfishing and high levels of natural mortality.

Strategies and tactics

The following reference points have been established for the 4VWX American plaice stock using a stage-based population model (DFO 2012a). On September 26, 2012, the SFGAC endorsed the discussion document in principle and expressed interest in developing an empirically-based HCR, for use between stock assessments.

RV survey indices in 2014 and 2015 were very low and suggest that the stock is likely below the LRP. New quota caps and bycatch limits for American plaice were adopted in 2015. Harvest decision rules will be developed and implemented in order to maintain the bycatch limits and/or quota caps at low levels in order to promote stock growth.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 12,952 t

The limit reference point is 40% of the female-only BMSY for the stock.

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 25,905 t

The upper stock reference point is 80% of the female-only BMSY for the stock.

Fishing mortality limit reference (FLIM) = 0.16

Winter flounder

Since the 2015/16 season directed fishing in 4X5 is allowed only for winter flounder. In recent years landings have been stable in all areas and the RV summer survey indicates the stock to be in good condition. The RV survey biomass index for both 4X and 4VW is at or above the long-term mean and fluctuating around the mid-term mean. Current length frequency distributions are stronger than long-term averages in 4X and for larger sizes in 4VW. However, they are not as strong as the long-term averages in 4VW for smaller sizes (below 27cm).

Table: Winter flounder landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 994   65 1,318,225 49,559
2012-2013     364 731,562 81,233
2013-2014     190 1,645,219 11,932
2014-2015       1,513,072 11,768
2015-2016     915 1,379,094 12,494

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Plan enhancement

As the 4X flounder fishery is now a directed fishery for winter flounder, reference points and harvest control rules should be developed for this stock.

Witch flounder

In 4VW, witch flounder are the main target species in the mixed flounder fishery, and traditionally supported a significant flounder fishery in this area. In 4X, they are mainly caught as bycatch in the MG <65’ fishery and bycatch is limited to no more than 20% when fishing with mobile gear in 4X5Y.

Table: Witch flounder landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 11,663 205 157,514 118,811 768
2012-2013 5,494 1,545 189,659 78,308 758
2013-2014 30,045 1,166 175,041 78,136 377
2014-2015 1,356 868 2014,735 36,408 471
2015-2016 6,306 726 128,435 54,848 225

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

The RV survey biomass indices in 4X and 4VW fluctuate around the mid-term mean and, although below the long-term mean, they are well above the LRP proxy of 40% of the long-term mean. Length distribution data from 2015 suggest current trends are stronger than the long-term average in 4X but similar in 4VW except for the larger sizes where the long-term average is stronger.

Yellowtail flounder

Given the small Canadian quota for yellowtail flounder in 5Z, it has been reserved for bycatch by all fleets since 2013 in 5Z. In 4VW, yellowtail flounder is 1 of the target species in the mixed flounder fishery. In 4X5Y, yellowtail flounder are limited to no more than 10% as bycatch in the mobile gear fishery.

Table: Yellowtail flounder landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 720   5 5,918 21,164
2012-2013     121,016 1,977 45,242
2013-2014 24,581   38,698 6,424 519
2014-2015 9,408   1,168 29 421
2015-2016 2,090     62 2,637

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Recent RV summer survey biomass indices in 4X and 4VW are below the long and mid-term means with some fluctuation. 4VW Yellowtail biomass index remains relatively strong but the 4X index is below the LRP proxy of 40% of the long-term mean.

The TRAC provides advice on the 5Z TAC for yellowtail flounder each year. The following table identifies the quotas and country shares for 2016 and 2017 seasons.

  2016 2017
  TAC (t) Quota (t) Share TAC (t) Quota (t) Share
    Canada US Canada US   Canada US Canada US
Yellowtail 354 85 269 24% 76% 300 93 207 31% 69%

Plan enhancement

Under DFO’s Fishery-Decision Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach, when a stock is in the Critical zone but still being fished, a rebuilding plan must be in place with the aim of having a high probability of the stock growing out of the Critical zone within a reasonable timeframe. A rebuilding plan for 5Z yellowtail flounder is being initiated in 2017/18, with the intent of finalizing the plan by the end of the 2018/19 quota year.

Appendix 14: Pollock

Image of redfish

General overview

Pollock fisheries occur on the Scotian Shelf, eastern Georges Bank, and the Bay of Fundy using primarily otter trawl and gillnets, but also handlines and longlines. Pollock in NAFO Areas 4VWX5 comprise 2 population components: a slower-growing Eastern Component including Divisions 4V and 4W, as well as Unit Areas 4Xm and 4Xn, and a faster-growing Western Component (WC) including 4Xopqrs and Canadian portions of Area 5. In the last 5 years <10% of landings have come from the eastern component.

Table: Pollock landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 5X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 15,696 24 246,627 3,555,047 1,476,028
2012-2013 42,456 1,806 160,892 3,601,352 1,363,681
2013-2014 35,657 1,297 69,711 2,511,278 802,438
2014-2015 13,508 2,503 127,320 2,126,070 990,941
2015-2016 16,882 4 71,140 1,912,731 1,518,399

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Management measures

Small fish protocols apply to <43cm fish.

Western Component

Strategies and tactics

An analytical assessment providing management advice is scheduled every 5 years for the Western Component with the last analytical assessment completed in 2010 (DFO 2011c). In the interim years an update is provided based on the approved Management Procedure adopted in 2011.

A Management Strategy Evaluation completed in 2010-2011 identified three Management Objectives for the stock, used to evaluate different Harvest Control Rules and Management Procedures:

The HCR and Management Procedure adopted in 2011 were used from 2012-2015 to establish TACs. In 2016/17, the procedure was not used, due to concerns about the 2015 survey index point. For 2017/18, the identified procedure for treating missing values was applied to the 2015 data point to establish the TAC level.

Table: Research Vessel survey biomass indices (t) for species by stock/region for 2013, 2014, 2015 and averages for long-term (1970-2014) and medium-term 15-year (2000-2014) time periods (DFO. 2016d)
Stock/Region 2013 2014 2015 1970-2014
Avg.

2000-2014
Avg.

Western
Component
pollock
26,823 9,752 5,199 29,992 27,716

Plan enhancement

In the 2011 MSE, a 5-year frame was established, after which a full review of the approach was recommended. In 2016, a partial review of the HCR and data inputs was undertaken by DFO Science (DFO 2017e), and it was agreed that more work was required. In particular, concerns have been raised by the fishing industry that Western Component pollock may have shifted their distribution towards Georges Bank, which is not part of the index used in the Management Procedure for this stock.

In 2016/17, a Use of Fish agreement between DFO and the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council was established to support research on developing an acoustic index for Western Component pollock. DFO Science has also committed to surveying Georges Bank as part of the summer RV survey whenever possible. These initiatives should contribute to our assessment and management framework for this stock over time.

Eastern component

The Eastern Component is monitored solely with indices from the summer RV survey.

After a large increase in the biomass index in 2011, levels have dropped to below long and mid-term means. Length frequency distribution in 2015 is stronger than the long-term mean for small fish (<45cm) but very weak for larger animals.

Table: Research Vessel survey biomass indices (t) for species by stock/region for 2013, 2014, 2015 and averages for long-term (1970-2014) and medium-term 15-year (2000-2014) time periods (DFO. 2016d)
Stock/Region 2013 2014 2015 1970-2014
Avg.
2000-2014
Avg.
Eastern
Component
pollock
33,006 13,654 22,191 30,182 27,193

Appendix 15: Longhorn sculpin

Image of Longhorn sculpin

General overview

The only directed Sculpin fishery is a Longhorn Sculpin fishery limited to St. Mary’s Bay, Nova Scotia. Bycatch limits are in place for white hake, cusk, dogfish and wolffish. Under licence conditions for other directed fisheries in 4VWX5, fishers may choose to release or retain any Sculpin species caught as bycatch. As of 2017, there is no requirement to record Sculpins returned to the water in mobile gear fisheries in the Region.

Table: Sculpin Unspecified landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012     56 437,619 39
2012-2013     15,261 394,259 602
2013-2014     6,221 319,900 714
2014-2015     603 406,801 853
2015-2016     992 348,577  

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

RV survey trends on the Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy are used to set management measures for this population. Up to 2011 the 4X biomass index fluctuated around the long and mid-term means but stayed primarily above the means. Since that time the biomass index dropped below the means. The 2015 length frequency distribution was similar to the long-term average.

Since 2000 the 4VW biomass index has stayed below the long and mid-term means for all but 2 years. The 2015 length frequency distribution was similar to the long-term average for the smaller fish (<20cm) and larger fish (>30cm) but much weaker for the average sizes (20-3- cm).

Table: Research Vessel survey biomass indices (t) for species by stock/region for 2013, 2014, 2015 and averages for long-term (1970-2014) and medium-term 15-year (2000-2014) time periods (DFO 2016)
Stock/Region 2013 2014 2015 1970-2014
Avg.
2000-2014
Avg.
4X Longhorn Sculpin 803 713 1,568 1,563 1,709
4VW Longhorn Sculpin 1,637 1,261 2,147 2,798 2,422

Plan enhancement

The last assessment of the St. Mary’s Bay directed sculpin fishery took place in 2008. At that time it was noted that exploitation rates in the fishery were thought to be high, and that “there is insufficient information to determine if the high exploitation rate is sustainable (Comeau et al. 2009).” DFO should consider a new assessment of this stock and review the management framework to ensure the fishery is being carried out in a sustainable way.

Appendix 16: Non-directed fisheries

Catch of non-directed species is managed through bycatch caps or limits, which are often species and fishery-specific, and described in the CHP for each fishery. For the most common bycatch species in the Maritimes Region, those limits are listed by Generic bycatch limits are outlined in the CHP for each fleet. If no specific limit exists, a maximum bycatch of 10% of any bycatch species is generally applicable. If this limit is exceeded, DFO may temporarily close the fishery or the vessel class, and/or develop a specific bycatch cap for that species. For example, the CHP for the FG <45’ groundfish fleet includes this provision:

  1. A maximum cap of 10% bycatch of all other species not mentioned above will be monitored to ensure that landings do not exceed quantities from previous years or the 10% limit, whichever is less. Any time the prescribed bycatch limits are exceeded, a test fishery as described below will be implemented. 

Bycatch is calculated as the weight of a bycatch species divided by the combined weight of all species authorized to direct for by the licence and for which the gear type is permitted.

EA <100’ sector bycatch caps

Effective for the 2015 fishing season, bycatch of selected stocks by the >100’ sector will be managed through the establishment of bycatch caps that are transferable at the enterprise level. Bycatch caps have been established and distributed at levels that are intended to meet bycatch requirements for directed fishing quotas in respective areas (based on the January-December or April-March quota year as the case may be), as well as conservation requirements. Caps may be revised annually (and potentially adjusted during the year) by DFO through consultations with Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council. License holders have discretion while fishing within Canada’s 200 miles zone, to self-manage their utilization on a tow-by-tow and trip-by-trip basis. Individual license holders are required to meet any additional in-season bycatch requirements above the sector caps (as adjusted during the year) through transfers from other license holders. 

In 2017/18, >100’ sector bycatch caps in 4VWX5 are:

  NAFO division Bycatch species >100' sector bycatch cap
1 4VWX5 Monkfish 83t
2 4X5Y Witch flounder 45t
3 4X5 White hake 140t

16.1. Cusk

Image of Cusk

On average, 70% of all reported landings of cusk are from NAFO Division 4X5Y and 18% from NAFO subarea 5Z. In addition to landings, there is also cusk (Brosme brosme) mortality associated with discards in some lobster and groundfish fisheries.

As a non-directed fishery the 2016/17 TAC is bycatch only for commercial fisheries in NAFO areas 4VWX5.

There is currently 1 food, social and ceremonial (FSC) licence that allows for the direct harvest of cusk, and the species may also be landed by 3 Aboriginal organizations with FSC licenses for “unspecified groundfish”. There has been no reported harvest of cusk associated with any of these FSC licences in recent years. There has been no reported bycatch of cusk under any other FSC licenses. This may reflect a lack of reporting rather than an absence of any catch.

Cusk may be caught and retained by recreational fishers in the mixed groundfish recreational fishery. This is an unlicensed fishery and reporting is not required; however, catches are presumed to be low based on the depth preference of the species.

Table: Cusk landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 3,394   33,756 348,287 94,896
2012-2013 5,166   39,317 355,660 87,115
2013-2014 7,548   37,690 278,755 62,108
2014-2015 3,215   29,832 135,461 35,557
2015-2016 10,491 7 34,765 118,729 35,032

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

COSEWIC assessment

Initially, cusk was assessed as Threatened by COSEWIC in 2003 but was reassessed as Endangered in November 2012 for reasons that include long-term declines beginning in the 1970s.

Fishing is the only known major source of human-induced mortality of cusk in Atlantic Canada. Groundfish longline and lobster pots are considered the greatest threats based on landings records and discard estimates, respectively. Landings in the groundfish longline fleet account for over 95% of the cusk landings in DFO Maritimes Region. The cusk bycatch for 2012 in Lobster Fishing Area 41 was estimated at 8.6 t. The 2006/2007 estimate of bycatch in Lobster Fishing Area 34 was 344 t. Cusk catches in other Lobster Fishing Areas have not been evaluated (DFO 2014c).

Management measures

It appears that the population can sustain recent levels of fishing mortality without jeopardizing survival of the species considering cusk CPUE in the halibut industry survey has fluctuated without trend for the past 14 years. A further reduction in fishing mortality may be required for the species to achieve the proposed recovery target for abundance.

The MG <65’ fleet bycatch has been capped at 20t, and the FG 45’-65’ bycatch cap is 48t. The FG <45’ fleet has the most interactions with cusk. Their fleet-level cap is 500t in 4X5 and 70t in 4VW, although recent landings have been well below that level. Additionally, the FG <45’ CHP states that cusk landings should not exceed 25% of the round weight of the directed species and the landings should not exceed 4,000 lbs round at any time.

4VWX5 cusk bycatch strategy

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in the multispecies groundfish fishery to achieve the biodiversity objective related to bycatch of cusk. 

There is no assessment model in place for 4VWX5 cusk. The reference points and harvest control rules outlined below are empirically-based using the commercial CPUE data for longline and a subset of the Industry/DFO longline halibut survey since 1999 using only stations sampled in each year (Harris et al 2012).

The following reference points have been adopted for the 4VWX5 cusk stock:

Biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) proxy = 33.25 kg/1000 hooks

The BMSY proxy for the stock is the average of the commercial CPUE of the commercial longline fishery for the period with higher catch rates (1986-1992), scaled to the halibut survey.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 13.3 kg/1000 hooks

The limit reference point is 40% of the BMSY proxy for the stock. 

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 26.6 kg/1000 hooks

The upper stock reference point is 80% of the BMSY proxy for the stock and is the proposed population recovery target.

The index used to monitor the state of the stock relative to the reference points will be the three-year geometric mean of the CPUE for the established subset of halibut survey stations.

The 3-year geometric means for 2011-2013 CPUE (17.9 kg/1000 hooks) and 2012-2014 (13.3 kg/1000 hooks) suggests that the stock was at its LRP and at the critical/cautious boundary under the Precautionary Approach (DFO, 2015c). The most recent DFO stock status update found that the 3-year geometric mean (2013-2015) of the cusk biomass index was a CPUE of 19.0 kg/1000 hooks in the DFO-Industry halibut survey, which is above the LRP. This remains consistent with assessment at the time of the RPA, and continues to show that cusk biomass is fluctuating without trend in the Cautious zone (DFO, 2016b).

STRATEGIES TACTICS
Productivity
Keep fishing mortality of 4VWX5 cusk moderate by using the following harvest control rule:
  • When the index is in the Healthy zone, above the (USR), the TAC may be increased to a level which continues to promote the biomass remaining above the USR. When the index recovers above the USR, guided as 2 consecutive years above the USR, increases in the removal rate will be informed by Science and through consultation with all parties. Interannual changes in TAC are limited to 20%.
  • When the Cautious zone, interannual changes to the TAC will be minimized. The overall by catch caps currently in place will be maintained until the stock is above the Upper Stock Reference or if an exceptional circumstance is triggered.
  • An exceptional circumstance may be triggered in either of 2 ways:
    • The CPUE for the established subset of halibut survey stations falls below 7.3 kg/1000 hooks (the lowest value in the time series) in any 1 year; or
    • The CPUE for the established subset of halibut survey stations decreases by more than 20% in 2 consecutive years.
  • If an exceptional circumstance is triggered, the management response may vary from the harvest control rule, following a review.
  • When the Index is below the Limit Reference Point, guided as 2 consecutive years below the LRP, there will be no increases to the TAC and fishing mortality will be reduced to the lowest practicable level in order to promote stock rebuilding. The implementation of other management measures (e.g. area closures, move-away protocols) will be investigated. Actions taken will be established in consultation with industry and will be evaluated annually for effectiveness and adjusted accordingly.
  • Total allowable catch (may be expressed as fleet quota caps)

Plan enhancement

16.2. 4X5Y and 5Zc skate

General overview

Although there is no directed fishery for skates their bycatch is common in many groundfish fisheries. The 5 main species caught in the Maritime Region are: barndoor skate, little skate, smooth skate, thorny skate and winter skate.

A review of discards in the 4X5Y groundfish fishery for 2007-2011 shows that the level of discard for each species varies between fisheries (Clark et. al. 2015). They identified that barndoor, winter and thorny skates were discarded in the highest quantities by weight in all groundfish fisheries combined. However by gear type, the most common bycatches were winter skates in the offshore groundfish bottom trawl, barndoor skates in the longline, silver hake trawl, and redfish trawl fisheries, and smooth skates in the sculpin bottom trawl fisheries. Thorny skate were not caught in any 1 specific fishery. Discard quantities of little skate were highest in the groundfish bottom trawl, unidentified skates were highest in the offshore groundfish bottom trawl, longline and offshore redfish trawl fisheries.

The groundfish fleets have attempted to reduce bycatch mortality and to support this objective, in September 2012 the SFGAC adopted a “Conservation Strategy & Management Measures for Skate 4X5Y and 5Zc” (Subsection 16.2.7), which was updated in 2017, and expanded to include 4VW stocks.

COSEWIC assessment

COSEWIC has assessed 4 skate species in the Maritimes Region.

Barndoor skate in November 2010 were assessed as Not at Risk in May 2015.

Atlantic wide thorny skate in May 2012 were assessed as special concern. This status resulted from concerns on the slow-growing, late-maturing nature of the fish and severe population declines over the southern part of their distribution, including range contractions. The southern declines have continued in spite of a reduction in fishing mortality.

The Laurentian-Scotian population of smooth skate was also assessed as special concern in May 2012. Concerns on the lack of knowledge of the impacts of natural and bycatch mortalities on the stock recovery were identified as concerns.

Winter skate were divided into 2 designatable units. The more southern unit of Georges Bank, western Scotian shelf and Bay of Fundy (NAFO areas 4X5) was assessed as Not at Risk in May 2015.

The winter skate in the Designatable Unit of Eastern Scotian Shelf (NAFO areas 4VW) – NFLD population were assessed as endangered in May 2015. The abundance of mature individuals was estimated to have declined 98% since the early 1970s, and is now at a historically low level. The main threats since then have been unsustainably high non-fishing mortality, possibly due to predation by grey seals, as well as fishing mortality due to bycatch in fisheries targeting other species.

Management measures

The mandatory use of separator panels in otter trawls and reduced fishing for yellowtail flounder have reduced the capture of skate species substantially on Georges Bank.

Trends in abundance and resulting indices are based on the summer RV survey conducted in June to August. Trends are for the Scotian shelf and Bay of Fundy (DFO 2016d). Trends in abundance for 5Z are based on the winter RV survey conducted in February-March (DFO 2016e).

Strategies and tactics

There is no assessment model in place for any skate, proxy reference points are empirically-based using the Research Vessel Biomass index. A floating 3-year biomass index mean is compared to the LRP proxy of 40% of the long-term biomass index mean.

16.2.1. Barndoor skate

Barndoor skate is 1 of the largest skates and most commonly caught in the western Atlantic. There are no commercial landings for the barndoor skate.

Based on the RV surveys 2013-2015:

These populations are considered above the LRP although the lack of numbers in the larger sizes is a concern.

16.2.2. Little skate

There are no commercial landings for the little skate. Winter skate and little skate cannot be reliably distinguished at lengths < 40cm which is generally in the length range where the majority of the winter skate and little skate are captured in the survey. It is possible that little skate <40cm have been identified as winter skate (DFO 2016e).

Based on the RV surveys 2013-2015:

These populations are considered above the LRP proxy.

16.2.3. Smooth skate

Image of Smooth skate

Based on the RV surveys 2013-2015:

Smooth skate is considered to below the LRP proxy in 4VW.

16.2.4. Thorny skate

Thorny skate is among the most widespread and abundant bottom-dwelling fish species and is continuously distributed from Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, Labrador Shelf, Grand Banks, Gulf of St. Lawrence, Scotian Shelf and Bay of Fundy to Georges Bank. The highest concentrations of this fish in the Maritime region are found on the eastern portion of the Scotian Shelf.

Image of Thorny skate

Based on the RV surveys 2013-2015:

Thorny skate is considered to below the LRP proxy for all areas.

16.2.5. Winter skate

Image of Thorny skate

A winter skate RPA was held in late January 2016 in Moncton. Winter skate was reported to be in very poor shape both in the Gulf of St Lawrence and on the Eastern Scotian Shelf. High adult natural mortality rather than fishing was identified as the current problem.

Based on the RV surveys 2013-2015:

Table: Winter skate landings (kg) by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z
2013       195  

16.2.6. Skate unspecified

Landed skate are frequently not separated by species. Thorny skates must be returned to the water, but fish harvesters can choose to retain other species of skate or return them to the water.

Table: Skate unspecified landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 8,581 7 2,311 79,462 40,492
2012-2013 17,330   4,284 153,961 97,603
2013-2014     16,974 101,254 40,009
2014-2015 159   1,349 39,021 20,467
2015-2016 406   37,035 26,664 7,662

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

16.2.7. SFGAC skate conservation strategy

Conservation strategy and management measures for skate 4VW, 4X5Y and 5Zc

Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee
January 2017

Prepared by the Groundfish Enterprise Allocation Council

Conservation strategy and management measures for skate in 4VW, 4X5Y and 5Zc:

Appendices

1. Biomass Estimates (t) from DFO’s survey

Stock/region 2014 2015 2016 1970-2015 Avg. 2001-2015 Avg.
4X smooth skate 344 339 476 471 350
4VW smooth skate 40 81 160 441 157
4X thorny skate 372 606 69 3,724 731
4VW thorny skate 705 1,111 1,184 10,766 3,432
4X barndoor skate 2,879 1,453 2,225 519 1,335
4VW barndoor skate 712 253 1,169 306 408
4X winter skate 206 1,134 818 985 837
4VW winter skate 419 139 161 3,354 517
4X little skate 536 1,726 1,325 821 995
4VW little skate 76 0 44 134 92
  2014 2015 2016 1987-2015
Mean
2011-2015
Mean
5Z smooth skate 0 5 0.3 10 9
5Z thorny skate 0 45 63 165 52
5Z barndoor skate 35 83 281 159 221
5Z winter skate 8649 5428 26,531 13,485 8948
5Z little skate 16,600 3407 4327 7305 7034
5Z mixed winter/little skate 3180 126 550 - -

Note:  Indices for 4VWX are based on the Summer DFO RV survey for the Scotian Shelf and indices for 5Z are based on the Spring DFO RV survey for Georges Bank

2. Evaluation of Stock Status

Stock/Region 2011-2015 average as % of long-term average 2016 Relative to 2011-2015 average At risk of serious or irreversible harm relative to LRP proxy at 40% of long-term mean
4X smooth skate 62% Up No
4VW smooth skate 24% Up Yes
5Z smooth skate 90% Down No
       
4X thorny skate 9% Down Yes
4VW thorny skate 16% Down Yes
5Z thorny skate 32% Up Yes
       
4X barndoor skate 267% Up No
4VW barndoor skate 220% Up No
5Z barndoor skate 139% Up No
       
4X winter skate 98% Down No
4VW winter skate 8% Down Yes
5Z winter skate 66% Up No
       
4X little skate 143% Up No
4VW little skate 81% Down No
5Z little skate 96% Down No

3. Estimated proportion of skate species caught in each gear (from observations 2004-08)

Species Trawl 4X5Y Trawl 5Zjm LL4X5Y LL5Zjm
Smooth 8% 6% 0% 1%
Thorny 22% 26% 20% 20%
Barndoor 7% 18% 41% 60%
Winter 40% 29% 15% 9%
Little 7% 5% 0% 1%

4. Reporting live-release of skate bycatch

Consistent with licence conditions, all skate that are released from a given set should be reported in the logbook, indicating the species, health status (alive/dead) and estimated weight of the skate released. If appropriate data fields are not available, this information should be recorded in the ‘Other’ section of the entry until such time that space is provided for in the logbooks.

5. Relative abundance of thorny skate in 4X5Y

6. Recommended live-release protocol

Skate should be returned to the water as soon as possible after their catch and with as Little handling and “drop” as possible. Care should be taken to avoid touching the gills or gill cover. Gaffes or other sharp edged tools must not be used as they may damage the fish. When lifting a skate it should be cradled under the head and the pelvic region or the tail can be used to support the weight of the animal. The tail may be grasped to quickly orient the skate for lifting, but should not be used to support the entire weight of the animal, as the intensity of any grip required to lift skate solely by the tail will result in mucus loss and bruising. Use of rubber or vinyl gloves is recommended to avoid removal of the protective mucus on the skin that protects the skate from bacterial and fungal infections. Reduce handling where practicable by allowing skate to pass quickly and unimpeded along conveyor systems or slides that can deposit them back into the ocean with as Little “drop” to the water as possible.

7. Recommended move-away protocol

When the amount of thorny skate exceeds the greater of 200 kg or 10% in a trawl set, or the greater of 100 kg or 10% in a longline string (usually 5-6 tubs, or 1500-1800 hooks) the vessel should move at least 0.5 nautical mile away from the area fished and avoid re-setting in the same area for the duration of the trip.

8. Information sheet for fishermen

Plan enhancement

As well as introducing the non-species specific actions for plan enhancement in Section 9, the industry skate conservation strategy identifies several actions which need to be updated or reviewed to ensure follow through.

  1. Survivability percentages for live released skate should be reviewed for accuracy.
  2. All thorny skate must be released since they are below the LRP proxy. Given the very poor status of winter skate and smooth skate in 4VW as well, all skate retention in this area should cease, unless another management measure that would reduce mortality to a similar degree can be identified.
  3. Review industry participation in reporting live-release bycatch and utilizing the move away protocols.

16.3. White hake

General overview

White hake is a cod-like fish found on the East Coast of Canada extending from Georges Bank to Newfoundland waters. Groundfish fisheries cannot direct for white hake in the Maritimes Region but only retain it as bycatch. In NAFO Divisions 4VW and 4X5, white hake can also be caught and returned to the water as bait (without being landed) in groundfish fisheries when using longlines or handlines. White hake captured in this manner are to be recorded in logbooks and counted towards quota caps. 

Table: RV survey biomass indices (t) for 2013, 2014, 2015 and averages for long-term (1970-2014) and medium-term 15-year (2000-2014) time periods (DFO, 2016d)
Stock/Region 2013 2014 2015 1970-2014 Avg. 2000-2014 Avg.
4VW white hake 2,868 3,159 5,768 9,657 4,920
4X white hake 7,443 9,644 6,452 18,144 11,366
Table: White hake landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 34,316 4,519 115,703 1,478,260 85,678
2012-2013 21,872 5,629 83,933 1,202,702 82,683
2013-2014 64,191 11,587 123,100 534,135 42,734
2014-2015 82,835 4,709 103,188 423,245 59,495
2015-2016 219,924 11,851 97,602 335,308 24,620

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Both 4VW and 4X recent biomass indices are below long-term mean and fluctuating around the mid-term mean. Length frequency indices are weaker than the long-term average particularly for the larger animals (>35cm). Both areas are fluctuating within the Cautious zone based on the 3-yr geometric mean for survey biomass and the LRP and URP based on 1970-2011 biomass indices (DFO 2016d).

The 2016 recovery potential assessment (DFO 2016i) reported that recruitment of juveniles remains high in NAFO Divisions 4X5Zc, while the last three years showed low recruitment in NAFO Divisions 4VW. In the past 2 decades, the primary source of mortality for white hake in NAFO Divisions 4RST, NAFO Divisions 4VW and NAFO Divisions 4X5 was natural mortality (M), as indicated by high total mortality estimates (Z), correspondingly low relative fishing mortality values (F) and an ongoing decline or lack of increase in adult indices.

COSEWIC assessment

In November 2013 COSEWIC assessed the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence white hake population as threatened. Overfishing in the late 1980s and early 1990s was considered to be the main reason for the decline in abundance, especially in the Scotian Shelf area. With no directed fishing the threat of overfishing in this area is currently low. Little is known about non-fishing levels of mortality throughout this area. There is no directed fishery on the Scotian Shelf but this species is primarily landed by fixed gear as a bycatch of other directed fisheries. Various bycatch limits have been in place in this area since 1996.

Adults in this population are estimated to have declined by approximately 70% over the past three generations. Most of this decline occurred before the mid-1990s. The population has remained fairly stable since then, and there has been little overall trend in area of occupancy. Restrictions on fisheries since the mid- to late 1990s over most of their range may be responsible for stabilizing their numbers.

Small fish protocols may be considered for these fisheries, with the undersized fish being those less than 43cm.

16.3.1. 4X5 white hake

White hake are well sampled in the annual bottom trawl surveys conducted by DFO during the summer Scotian Shelf July survey. Several other surveys have been conducted including sentinel surveys in Scotian Shelf, seasonal (spring and fall) surveys of the Scotian Shelf. However, these surveys are of shorter duration and cover less white hake habitat.

It is believed that overfishing led to the large decline in white hake abundance on the Scotian Shelf (DFO 2016i). Catch restrictions introduced in 1996 for the fixed gear fleet were expanded in 1999 to include all gear types. Since then landings have been at or below 2100 t annually, which may contribute to the recent stability in the abundance of white hake in this area. Little is known about other sources of mortality for the species in this area.

Management measures

In 2014 and 2015, an 876 t bycatch cap for white hake bycatch was in place for NAFO Division 4X5, which was further subdivided among fleets and sub-fleets. Additionally, groundfish fleets were subject to trip limits. From 2009 to 2013, bycatch caps in NAFO 4X5 totaled 1,475 t but were only applied to the FG <45’ fleet. Other fleets were managed according to trip limits.

In addition, for the FG <45’ fleet, the CHP states that catches of white hake in 4X5 should not exceed an amount equal to twice the catch of the directed species on any trip. As well, the maximum amount of white hake should not exceed 10,000 lbs round weight on any trip. 

Strategies and tactics

This section presents the strategies and tactics being used in this fishery to achieve the objectives outlined above and adopted by the SFCAG on March 14th, 2013. New reference points were subsequently developed by DFO Science at the RPA for the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Laurence DU, in January 2015. Considering that the directed fishery for this stock is closed and only bycatch is permitted, the strategies and tactics will focus on meeting the productivity objective.

At the present time there is no assessment model in place for 4X5 white hake. The reference points and harvest control rules outlined below are, therefore, empirically-based using the DFO Research Vessel (RV) ecosystem survey which has been undertaken since 1970.

Biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) proxy = 17,167  t

The BMSY proxy for the stock was estimated as the average survey adult (>= 42 cm) biomass index during the productive period 1970 to 1998 (i.e., after which biomass declined below levels observed in the 1970s).

Limit reference point (LRP) = 6,867t

The limit reference point is 40% of the BMSY estimate for the stock. 

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 13,734 t

The upper stock reference point is 80% of the BMSY estimate for the stock. 

Where there are references to “the Index” for 4X5 white hake, this refers to the three-year geometric mean of the 42+ cm RV survey biomass.

STRATEGIES TACTICS
Productivity
Keep fishing mortality of 4X5 white hake moderate by using the following harvest control rules:
  • When in the Healthy zone, the TAC may be set at the catch not to exceed the target exploitation rate of 20% of the Index. Interannual changes in TAC are limited to 20% or 500 t, whichever is greater.
  • When in the Cautious zone, the TAC should be set to mitigate declines and, when possible, promote positive change in the Index over a three-year period. The management response will vary depending on location of the stock within the Cautious zone, whether the stock is increasing or decreasing, whether the trajectory (growth or decline) is expected to continue, and indications of incoming recruitment, for example. While a harvest rate in the range of 10% to 20% is acceptable, the secondary indicators listed above must be explicitly considered. Furthermore, the harvest rate should progressively decrease lower in the Cautious zone. While TAC increases will be no more than 20% or 500 t (whichever is greater) larger decreases may be considered if the stock is declining precipitously.
  • When in the Critical zone, the harvest strategy is to be results-driven rather than based on a predetermined harvest rate. Rebuilding to a level above the LRP should be achieved in a reasonable timeframe (1.5 to 2 generations) with a high degree of probability. The TAC (or bycatch cap) should be set with a very low risk of biomass decline. In an effort to rebuild the stock above the LRP, catches will be kept at the lowest possible level, with the exploitation rate capped at 10% of the Index.
  • Total allowable catch (may be expressed as fleet quota caps)
  • Small fish protocols
  • Permitted release
  • Possible avoidance mechanisms

16.3.2. 4VW white hake

Management measures

In NAFO Division 4VW, the FG less than 45’ groundfish fleet is subject to a bycatch cap for white hake. This bycatch cap was 315 t from 2010 to 2014, but was reduced to 175 t in 2015. This bycatch cap is further subdivided at the sub-fleet level. Trip limits also apply to each groundfish fleet in this area, including the FG <45’.

Strategies and tactics

At the present time there is no assessment model in place for 4VW white hake. The reference points and harvest control rules outlined below are, therefore, empirically-based using the DFO summer RV survey which has been undertaken since 1970.

The following reference points were developed for the 4VW white hake stock by DFO Science at the RPA for the Atlantic and Northern Gulf of St. Laurence DU, in January 2015:

Biomass needed for maximum sustainable yield (BMSY) proxy = 9,711 t

For Divs. 4VW, BMSY was estimated as the average survey adult (>= 42 cm) biomass index during the productive period 1970 to 1992.

Limit reference point (LRP) = 3,885 t

The limit reference point is 40% of the BMSY estimate for the stock. 

Upper stock reference point (USR) = 6,352 t

The upper stock reference point is 80% of the BMSY estimate for the stock. 

The index used to evaluate 4VW white hake biomass against reference points is the three-year geometric mean of the 42+cm RV survey biomass.

Application of the strategies and tactics is the same as for white hake in 4X5.

16.4. Sharks

Licences in the FG <45’ and FG 45’-65’ fleets are allowed to retain an incidental catch of shark that does not exceed 10 percent of the total weight of the authorized groundfish on board of the vessel to a maximum of 500 kg. White Sharks, which are listed under SARA Schedule I, must be returned to the water immediately. No sharks may be retained when fishing in Division 4T.

By licence condition, no person shall remove the fins from any shark until the shark is offloaded from the vessel.

16.5. Minor species

There are a number of minor species covered under the umbrella of the groundfish fishery. These species are primarily opportunistically landed due to their sparsely distributed abundance. In some cases landings are extremely low (e.g. argentine, roundnose grenadier) or are found mainly in specific NAFO areas (e.g. red hake and turbot). The DFO RV surveys keep information on only some of these species (e.g. monkfish and wolffish).

As management measures are limited for these species this section only attempts to provide limited information on the species.

16.5.1. Argentine

These marine, deep-water fish are related to smelts and distributed in deep waters over the continental slope. They can be found from the southern Grand Banks extending into the Maritimes Region from Banquereau Bank to Georges Bank.

The 2016/17 season quota remains at 1000t for 4VWX however no landings have been assigned against the quota in the last 5 years.

16.5.2. Monkfish 4VWX5Zc

Monkfish are bottom dwelling fish that extend along the east coast from the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence to Georges Bank and into the Bay of Fundy. They can be found in coastal waters and also on the banks.

Not authorized for a directed fishery, all monkfish are landed in 4VWX5 as bycatch mostly from the mobile gear groundfish fishery but also the scallop fishery. 70% of all monkfish landed by Maritime region fleets over the last 5 years were caught in 4X5Y.

The MG <65’ fleet is limited to no more than 20% bycatch of monkfish for the entire season. Midshore mobile gear licence holders are limited to no more than 10% per trip. The offshore >100’ fleet sector cap was set at 83t in 2015 for 4VWX5.

Information trends on the Scotian shelf and Bay of Fundy for monkfish are collected by the RV survey (DFO 2016d).

Table: RV survey biomass indices (t) for 2013, 2014, 2015 and averages for long-term (1970-2014) and medium-term 15-year (2000-2014) time periods (DFO. 2016d)
Stock/Region 2013 2014 2015 1970-2014 Avg. 2000-2014 Avg.
4X monkfish 308 1,258 803 2,181 943
4VW monkfish 760 454 638 3,106 1,061
Table: Monkfish landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 15,905 477 17,339 120,199 3,676
2012-2013 26,851 1,853 3,331 139,567 28,638
2013-2014 1,212 2,092 22,002 86,836 2,622
2014-2015 2,846 1,071 9,281 43,014 2,300
2015-2016 5,994 1,009 36,340 47,606 2,002

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

In 4X the biomass index is below the long term mean and fluctuates around the mid-term mean. The 2015 length distribution appears to be as strong or stronger than the long-term average for smaller fish but weaker for larger fish.

In 4VW the biomass index is below both long and mid-term means. The 2015 length distribution is weaker than the long-term average for all sizes.

Plan enhancement

Monkfish catches in the RV survey are quite low in recent years relative to the long-term average. Catch limits should be reviewed to ensure that they are appropriate, and DFO should consider establishing PA reference points for this species.

16.5.3. Turbot

Commonly called “Greenland halibut” the Turbot can be found from Georges Bank north to the arctic region in deep, cold water.

Table: Turbot landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 5,457 3,389 29,782 3,609  
2012-2013 792 15,027 31,098 2,398 8
2013-2014 6,877 13,361 21,494 351 45
2014-2015 3,723 10,159 24,902 94  
2015-2016 3,391 12,093 18,520 73  

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

16.5.4. Roundnose grenadier

Sometimes called “Rock Grenadier” the Roundnose Grenadier can be found in deep waters from Georges Bank north to the Davis Strait but is more abundant in the northern part of its range.

The Roundnose Grenadier was assessed as endangered by COSEWIC in November 2008 due to the 98% decline in adult numbers between 1978 and 1994 (approximately 1 ½ generations). It is a relatively long-lived, slow-growing species, with a reported maximum age of 60 years and age at maturity about 10 years for females. This long life and late maturity makes it susceptible to human caused mortality.

Table: Roundnose Grenadier landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z
2011-2012 1,536   7    
2012-2013 167   13    
2013-2014          
2014-2015     387    
2015-2016          

16.5.5. Red hake

Red hake is difficult to separate from white hake but distinguishing characteristics are the number of lateral line scales (110-140) and the number of gill rakers on the upper arm of the first gill arch.

Found throughout the Maritimes Region and in depths ranging from inshore shallow to over 500 fathoms. Over the last 5 years 96% of the landings have been in 4VW.

Table: Red hake landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012     180,544 17,485 3
2012-2013     184,858 8,270  
2013-2014     417,040 2,199 157
2014-2015 239 40 266,919 3,888  
2015-2016     378,257 32,121 13

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

16.5.6. Wolffish 4VWX5YZe

Two species of wolffish (northern and spotted wolffish) have been listed under SARA as endangered and must be returned to the water by all fleets in all areas. The more common species in 4VWX5 is known as the Atlantic or striped wolffish which is listed as a species of special concern and bycatch landings must be kept to a minimum. All fleets must retain catch of Atlantic wolffish when fishing in the Maritimes Region. Over the last 5 years, 73% of all landings of Atlantic wolffish Maritimes Region have been from 4X5Y.

Bycatch of Wolffish is limited to no more than 10% for all fleets. The MG <65’ fleet also has a cap of no more than 10t in each of 4VW and 4X5. FG <45’ fleets also have a total cap of 10t in 4VWX5.

The summer RV survey provides indices for only 1 species of wolffish, the Atlantic wolffish. Both the 4X and 4VW biomass indices are below the long and mid-term means. The 4X 2015 length frequency distribution has few samples but appears to be much weaker and not as complete as the long-term average. The 4VW length frequency distribution is more complete and appears to be similar to the long-term mean at the smaller sizes but extremely low above 30cm.

Table: Research Vessel survey biomass indices (t) for species by stock/region for 2013, 2014, 2015 and averages for long-term (1970-2014) and medium-term 15-year (2000-2014) time periods (DFO. 2016d)
Stock/Region 2013 2014 2015 1970-2014 Avg. 2000-2014 Avg.
4X Atlantic wolffish 10 25 208 2,017 569
4VW Atlantic wolffish 176 267 142 1,886 759
Table: Atlantic wolffish landings (kg) in Maritimes Region by NAFO unit area 2011-2015 seasons
YEAR 3NOP 4RST 4VW 4X5Y 5Z*
2011-2012 81   187 5,423 796
2012-2013 696   228 3,975 1,153
2013-2014 83   369 4,038 233
2014-2015 553   55 2,258 590
2015-2016 696   452 2,731 164

*5Z season is the calendar year (e.g. 2011)

Appendix 17: Fixed gear <45’ operational guidelines for community management (1998)

Operational guidelines for community management
Scotia-Fundy
Fixed gear less than 45' sector
Maritimes Region

December, 1998

Overview

The less than 45' Fixed Gear (FG<45') (longline, handline or gillnet) sector remains under a competitive fishery with the available groundfish quota divided into community groups managed by a total of eleven different management boards in the Scotia-Fundy (SF) Region. In 4x+5 the FG<45' groundfish quotas have been divided into 7 geographic groups currently managed by 8 management boards. The quotas for these groups have been divided based on the combined reported catch history of the licence holders in each community, using the average of the years 1986-1993, as well as any county landings that could not be identified to the actual licence (missing Information, saltfish landings etc.). The total 86-93 reported species landings for each community were totaled and converted to a percentage of the total FG<45' landings. This percentage will be applied to the overall FG<45' allocation available each year following the Ministers announcement of an overall total allowable catch (TAC). A maximum of three management boards in Eastern Nova Scotia developed harvesting plans for the 4Vn and 4VsW stock areas.

Background

Community management was first introduced in 1995, when the Sambro group of fishers requested a trial community quota for their group, as opposed to being part of a single trip limit type fishery for all licence holders. This experiment, supported by the industry committee representing FG<45' fishers, and the Sambro fishers, were allocated a separate quota based an the average catch of the Sambro based fishers as a percentage using the years 1986-93. The 1995 fishing plan for all other participants, was based on three separate gear quota groups (handline, longline and gillnet), initially allowing each licence holder to chose which gear group they would fish under in 1995. Based on the success of the Sambro experiment and the overall 1995 fishery (which was not successful for many), the industry committee convened a 2 day workshop in the fall of 1995 advocating the Introduction of community quotas beginning in 1996.

Prior to the community management approach, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) sought consensus from industry representatives on harvest plans and sharing arrangements and then regulated the agreements within the terms of the licence condition. The use of trip limits as a management tool leads fishers to feel that they were in a "no win situation" as they could not keep the fish in excess of the established trip limits, nor were they permitted to discard it, according to the mandatory landing policy. According to industry this type of micro management by DFO was not conservation-orientated and resulted in the fishery evolving into a system of continually reduced trip limits to ensure the socio-economic goal of having the low available quotas spread out throughout the entire year. This approach resulted in controversy, and it became apparent that industry representatives had to assume greater responsibilities for the actual design of the harvesting plans with DFO policies concentrating more on conservation issues.

The concept of community management was originally introduced to address the seasonality and fishing patterns of the different communities fishing the 4X5Y stocks. Introduction of other management measures also Influenced the concept of community management. These include the requirement to strictly adhere to a set FG<45' allocation (as opposed to 3,300 lbs. daily bycatch trip limits available once the quota was reached which was eliminated in 1994), which resulted in more associations wanting a say in the development of harvesting plans more suited to the fishing patterns in their area. The introduction of Conservation Harvesting Plans (CHP) for all fleets resulted in more participation by both industry representation and increased disagreements on how the FG<45' quotas should be harvested.

The change in regulations requiring fishers to land all groundfish also contributed to fishers wanting a greater say in the harvesting plan, and fostered the concept of community development, as it was difficult for all communities to agree to a single industry trip limit Under the "land it all" regulations, DFO moved away from legislating trip limits to enforcing the overall quota.

Initial community structure a quota sharing formula

This community structure was reached following lengthy FG<45' Committee meetings that included the use independent arbitration in March of 1996. As this process was not completely successful, DFO mediated a final settlement that allocated 97% of the catch history using the community average of the base years of 1986-93. The remaining 3% was divided among the 7 geographic communities with 1.5% used to top up any community group that had a lower resultant 1996 quota than that same group caught in 1995. The remaining 1.5% was allocated to three subgroups, Digby Gillnet group, Yarmouth LL and HL, groups and the Digby LL and HL group. This basic sharing formula was introduced for the 1996 fishery.

In 1996, the various quota groups were developed along county lines leaving the development of harvesting plans to the existing associations. The trial process continued throughout 1996 and this approach was confirmed by industry, following a 2 day seminar in the fall of 1996. An unanimous recommendation was put forward to develop 7 geographic community groups administered by community management boards. The recommendation also included a three year trial period starting in 1997. For 4X5Y stocks, the available quotas of cod, haddock, pollock and white hake were divided into 7 geographic quotas based on a catch history formula that generally used the core years of 1986 to 1993 for cod, haddock and pollock. White hake was based on a more recent formula involving the community catch history from 1986-1997, as well as an equal share portion which was first introduced in 1998.

The 7 community groups were required to establish a community management board that would be responsible for submitting an annual harvesting plan. This was accomplished by all communities with the exception of the Shelburne community. This community, represented by 9 separate associations, could not come to any agreement to form a single management board. The views of the 2 groups were totally different, and after several months of meetings without any resolution, DFO implemented 2 separate boards. All licence holders in the Shelburne area were required to send a ballot to an independent accounting firm stating which management board would represent them.

Initially, all SF FG<45' licence holders start out in a single SF wide Group X Plan. They can all opt out of the SF wide, DFO administered Group X plan, by voluntarily choosing to fish under the plan developed by the community where they are registered. Once the harvesting plan is completed, fishers in each community are asked to confirm if they wish to participate in the community plan. Licence holders are not obligated to join a community plan but instead can remain in Group X. This is done to ensure all are included under either an industry or DFO management plan.

Following the second trial year, a more permanent community structure was endorsed by the FG<45' Committee (except Shelburne Management Board A), for implementation in 1999, rather than continuing the last year of the original three year trial. The Committee also endorsed changes that, if implemented, would allow for greater community responsibility, the development of formal terms of reference for the different management boards, and a more transparent democratic structure for developing community harvesting plans.

Operational guidelines

Participants

Community management applies to all FG<45' groundfish licence holders registered in the SF Fisheries and applies to the waters located in NAFO areas 4Vn, 4VsW 4X5Y and 5Z. As of November, 1998, there were 2,895 licence holders of which 835 are registered in ENS, 1,839 in SWNS and 221 in SWNB.

Management boards

There are a total of 11 management boards set up to manage the FG<45' fishery throughout the SF area. In ENS, dealing with the 4Vn and 4VsW stock areas, there are 3 management boards, while the 7 geographic quota groups in 4X+5 are managed by 8 separate management boards.

The 7 geographic community groups for FG<45' in 4X+5 are as follows:

  1. ll licence holders in ENS that fish in 4X
  2. Licence holders in Halifax County West of Sambro
  3. Licence holders in Lunenburg and Queens
  4. Licence holders in Shelburne (2 management boards)
  5. Licence holders in Yarmouth
  6. Licence holders for Digby and Nova Scotia Counties North
  7. SW New Brunswick

Consultative process

The main consultative body for this fishery is the SF Fixed<45' Advisory Committee where representation is comprised of three representatives from each management board as outlined in the Terms of Reference listed in Appendix I.

Existing community quota shares

The 1998 quota shares for FG<45' are the product of several processes starting with the initial TAC and further sub-allocations based on a formula negotiated or developed by the FG<45' Committee. This includes the harvesting plans for global stocks, as well as access to the different stocks by FG<45' licence holders.

The quota allocations for all gear sectors including FG<45' are identified in the Integrated Fisheries Groundfish Management Plan (IFGMP) resulting in the current (1998) percentage share as shown in Table 1. For those stocks covering more than 1 division, specifically pollock, Atlantic halibut and white hake, quota shares for the FG<45' fleet have been further subdivided by division, primarily to ensure that separate quotas were available for the equivalent cod stock areas (4Vn, 4VsW, 4X5Y and 5Z). These are listed in Table 2 as a percentage of the overall FG<45' quota.

The 7 geographic community quota shares for 4X5Y stocks are listed in Table 3. For Shelburne groups who traditionally fished the 4VsW stocks, a specific industry negotiated percentage share of the 4VsW white hake, Atlantic halibut and pollock quotas is listed in Table 4. Otherwise, the 4VsW fishery is generally managed under a single harvesting plan developed by the management boards in ENS with Input from the SWNS boards (excluding Shelburne), for all communities as set out in the terms of reference for the FG<45' Committee. Quotas for 5Z have also been divided into 7 community quotas as listed in Table 5 and are based on the same 89-93 catch average calculations converted to a percentage share.

The committee adopted the percentage shares as listed in Tables 1 through 4, but members agreed to review the Georges sank community quotas (Table 5) in future years as the TAC increases.

4X5Y catch history formula

The formula for the 7 geographic community quota shares in 4X5Y for cod, haddock and pollock was based an an initial Committee agreement of catch history, as well as the community definitions. The initial industry agreement for determining community quotas was based on 2 processes in order to equitably attribute the catch history to the defined groups. After considerable discussion, the Committee members agreed that any catch history formula was to be based on the groundfish licence number (GRO) as opposed to a vessel or the individual, and the definition of community groups was based on the homeport registration of the licence holder as of December 31, 1996. There was also considerable discussion about the use of catch history especially given that the DFO statistical system may not be accurate in view of missing information through unintentional omission, as well as deliberate misreporting or non-reporting. Industry representatives acknowledged that while the catch records of DFO may be suspect, there were no other unbiased records available and on a percentage basis, the degree of misreporting by community should balance out.

Catch history that could be traced to a GRO was assigned to that community based on that definition. The DFO recorded catches that could be traced to a GRO were known as identified landings. In each community there were landings that could not be identified as being caught by a specific CFV#, and could not be assigned to a specific GRO at the data in question. As well, there was a smaller portion of landings that were included in the DFO stats system as having been sold or purchased in a community without any identification of individual or vessel.

These latter 2 categories of landings were deemed unidentified and were credited to the community where the purchase slip originated. The unidentified landings for each community also include landings that can be attributed to a specific GRO where a licence has been cancelled or bought back.

All industry representatives have been advised that DFO has adopted the position that the official DFO landings records will not be changed after the fact. While published DFO studies have acknowledged data quality problems exist, any errors in individual landing records tend to average out when the data is combined in larger community or group quotas. The use of catch history to define smaller quota shares or the degree to which individual catch history records will be used within a community in future sharing, will be determined by the various management boards and the fishers involved. Any review or appeal process of the catch records would be determined and funded by the fishers involved as it has been done in other fleets where deemed necessary. DFO has agreed to cooperate with any industry appeal that is established.

The identified and unidentified landings were totaled for each community and a percent of the overall landings was assigned to a specific community as listed in Table 3. The annual FG<45 quotas are then divided using these percentages to determine a community quota.

Licensing policy

Under current DFO licensing policies there are no requirements to participate in the fishery to maintain the licence as DFO does not have a "use it or lose it" policy, except where included as a requirement in developmental and/or exploratory licences. The past policies only allowed a maximum banking rule of 2 years where a vessel was removed from a specific licence pending a new replacement vessel. The current policy does not require the licence holder to have a vessel registered for a specific groundfish licence unless that licence is to be fished. This allows individuals to bank a licence indefinitely as the only requirement is to pay the annual licence fee to keep the licence current. The licensing policy also does not require an individual to actually own a fishing vessel provided that a vessel complies with the cubic measure that is registered in respect of a specific GRO licence when it is to be fished. All groundfish licences acquired prior to 1989, are eligible to have designated operator status while any groundfish licence acquired after this date requires the licence to operated by the licence holder.

Policy also allows a smaller vessel to be used as a replacement while maintaining eligibility to go back to a larger vessel in the future.

Conservation harvesting plans

Group X

The standard harvesting plan for Group X is as follows:

  1. Group X is available for all SF FG<45' licence holders.
  2. The quota available in Group X is the sum of the 1986-93 catch history on a percentage basis, of the licence holders who choose to stay in Group X. This is the same principle that is used to establish a community quota based on the licence holders that are in a specific group, however, any unidentified quota associated with a community is not allocated to Group X. (The FG Committee strongly supported this measure as they all felt that the community should benefit from any unidentified catch.)
  3. Those in Group X can choose (by licence condition) to fish a maximum of 1 trip per month, not to exceed 4 days port to port, or 1 trip per week not to exceed 24 hours port to port. Either option allows for a maximum of 4 fishing days in any monthly period that each licence holder can fish.
  4. All catch is to be landed as DFO does not enforce any trip limits and each landing has to be monitored (100%) by a dockside monitoring company (DMC), with all costs payable by the licence holder.
  5. The fishery for those in Group X, as in the community plans, is closed when the quota of 1 species has been taken.
  6. Those choosing Group X are all assigned the same vessel class.
  7. The quota overrun policy does not apply to those in Group X.
  8. Any licence holder who originally chose to remain in Group X is eligible to return to the community group the following year where the licence originated from based on the December 31, 1996 registration. An individual cannot join any community of their choice after being in Group X for 1 year.

As noted above, if an individual chooses not to join a community group the alternative is to remain in Group X. The licence conditions are the same and DFO regulations apply equally to all community groups as well as to Group X. The only difference applies to the Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) requirements where coverage for Group X is 100%, as there is no community involvement in monitoring the assigned quotas. Community groups generally have DMP levels at 20%-50%. Community groups are also required to implement an industry funded observer plan that approximates 5-10% coverage.

Community management conservation harvesting plans

Authority

The common policies and principles of community management are primarily established through the SF Fixed Gear Committee making recommendations to DFO for implementation. Under the current Acts and Regulation, no power or authority is delegated to the different community boards, as the legislative authority rests with the Minister. Under the current system, the management boards submit their specific fishing plans, which are then approved and implemented by DFO provided they do not conflict with existing legislation and fulfill conservation requirements. A fleet CHP for all FG<45' is developed and all management boards must adhere to this Plan. In addition to this generic CHP, the FG<45' Community CHP can contains additional management measures such as seasonal quotas, trip limits, and sanctions that are not enforced by DFO. Most groups also requite members to sign waivers that authorize DFO to send the weekly catch reports by individual licence holders to the indicated management board for review. This allows management boards to ensure that participants in their groups respect the management measures set out in their plan.

DFO assigns the quotas to the approved geographic community management groups based on the support and recommendations of the FG<45' Committee. Any sub-allocations and seasonal quotas are implemented based on the recommendations of a specific management board through a community CHP. The management boards are then required to monitor the quota available to any specific group within their community. The FG<45' quota report is available each week from DFO through the fax on demand system. The management board is responsible for notifying DFO if a closure of any sub-allocation or seasonal quota is required. DFO will normally not issue a closure for any seasonal quota unless notified by the management board. As the annual quota for a specific management board is reached, the management board representatives will be notified to ensure that the quota is not exceeded.

Quota overrun sanction

Current operating principles contain an administrative quota overrun sanction applied only when a quota assigned to a management board is overrun by 9.9 t. The final status of any management board quota is based on quota totals as of February 28 of the following year to ensure all landings have been entered and are up to date. Any management board may arrange for transfers from other management boards until February 28.

0-9.9 t - No deduction considered

10-19.9 t - Same amount subtracted following year

Greater than 20 t - 2 for 1 subtracted the following year

Temporary in season quota transfers between communities

Quota transfers with the FG<45' sector and any other gear sector will not be approved. In season, temporary quota transfers between the different community management boards will be permitted throughout the year. The quota transfer forms are to be forwarded to the quota unit for approval. All quota transfers between communities and management beards are available for public review.

Movement of licence holders between communities

Although each licence is designated for quota and management purposes as being registered in 1 of the 7 geographic communities this does not affect the present policy of re-issuing a licence to another individual at the request of the original licence holder. Each licence holder however, should be aware of the quota or fishing implications. The community designation is based on the registration of the home port of the licence holder according to DFO records as of December 31, 1996. As such, any individual that had a groundfish licence re-issued to them, is subject to the initial community plan where this licence is registered unless a community change can be negotiated between the different community management boards.

The policies adopted by the FG<45' Committee do allow for licence holders to change from 1 geographic community designation to another provided the 2 boards involved are in agreement. The movement of a licence involves 1 community either gaining or losing a licence and this has both quota and effort implications. Currently the 2 management boards have to support the change in community designation as well approve the amount of quota that is to be transferred and advise DFO. The different management boards do not have to adhere to any specific quota formula, but to date when licence holders have changed communities, the home port community has only agreed to transfer quota in an amount equal to or less than the percentage share attributed to that licence without any share of the quota percentage defined as unidentified. If there is no agreement, the new licence holder will then have to choose to fish under the plan of the original board or choose to remain in Group X.

Community designation and access to stock areas

Beginning in 1999, all FG<45' groundfish licences will be identified as being registered in a specific community as indicated on their licence. The identifier as listed on the licence is a number from 1 to 7 which corresponds to the different assigned community groups. As well, each licence will list the divisions (based on cod stock definitions of 4Vn, 4VsW, 4X5Y or 5Z) where the licence holder can fish. All licence holders are eligible to fish in the stock area that they are adjacent to based on the registration as of December 1996. As an example, any licence that is registered as being from Sambro to Canso is adjacent to 4W, which means the licence is eligible to fish in 4VsW regardless of catch history. Access to other stock areas outside of the adjacent area will be based on recorded DFO catch history from 1986-93. An individual will not be permitted to fish in a non adjacent stock area if there is no recorded catch history of cod at all for that period. Access to non adjacent stock areas has previously been limited through the use of licence conditions since 1995.

The community designation and area that the licence is eligible to fish will be permanently attached to the GRO and will not change upon any transfer to another individual. Following a licence transfer, a new licence holder will be bound by the community and fishing area designation unless the community management boards involved agree to an amendment.

Management boards

Terms of reference and an operating process to be developed by the FG<45' Committee, with the aim of establishing a transparent process that provides the Minister the assurance that a particular management board clearly represents the licence holders in a specific area and that the views recommended by the management board clearly represent the majority position within a community.

Table 1: 1998 FG < 45 quotas and percentage share
Stock FG <45 FG 45-45 MG <65 FG 65-100 MG 65-100 All >100 TAC
4X5Y COD              
1998 QUOTA 5129 368 3012 57 129 605 9300
% SHARE 55.15% 3.96% 32.38% 0.62% 1.38% 6.50% 100.00%
               
4X5Y HADDOCK              
1998 QUOTA 2371 341 4876 45 45 423 8100
% SHARE 29.27% 4.21% 60.19% 0.55% 0.55% 5.22% 100.00%
               
4VWX+5 POLLOCK              
1998 QUOTA 5613 147 4576 0 128 9536 20000
% SHARE 28.07% 0.73% 22.88% 0.00% 0.64% 47.68% 100.00%
               
5Z COD              
1998 QUOTA 1075 144 561 17 17 86 1900
% SHARE 56.57% 7.60% 29.53% 0.90% 0.90% 4.50% 100.00%
               
5Z HADDOCK              
1998 QUOTA 771 152 1976 39 39 923 3900
% SHARE 19.78% 3.91% 50.66% 1.00% 1.00% 23.66% 100.00%
               
4VW HAKE              
1998 QUOTA 595 105 0 0 0 0 700
% SHARE 85.00% 15.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
               
4X+5 HAKE              
1998 QUOTA 2400 400 0 0 0 0 2800
% SHARE 85.71% 14.29% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 100.00%
               
4VWX+5 HALIBUT              
1998 QUOTA 339 110 22 167 3 138 850
% SHARE 39.88% 12.94% 2.59% 19.65% 0.35% 16.24% 91.65%
Table 2: FG < 45 divisional quota shares
Species Stock Area Division Percent
       
Pollock 4VWX+5 4VW 12.45%
    4X5Y 83.27%
    5Zjm 4.28%
       
    TOTAL 100.00%
       
Atlantic halibut 4VWX+5 4Vn 5.90%
    4VsW 48.10%
    4X + 5 46.00%
       
    TOTAL 100.00%
       
White hake 4VW 4Vn 19%
    4VsW 81%
       
    TOTAL 100%
       
  4X+5 4X5Y 83%
    5Zjm 17%
       
    TOTAL 100%
Table 3: 4X5Y FG < 45 Community Quota Shares
STOCK   ENS HALIFAX WEST LUN/ QUEENS SHELBURNE YAR GN YAR LL and HL DIG, UPPER BAY LL and HL SWNB TOTAL
COD 4X5Y % 6.92% 4.33% 10.61% 58.70% 0.28% 5.13% 7.48% 6.54% 100.0%
  98 QUOTA 355 222 544 3011 14 263 384 335 5128
                     
HADDOCK 4X5Y % 10.97% 1.33% 3.83% 76.17% 0.04% 2.70% 4.64% 0.31% 100.0%
  98 QUOTA 260 31 91 1806 1 64 110 7 2371
                     
POLLOCK 4X5Y % 2.47% 10.05% 30.57% 30.65% 1.57% 4.25% 10.60% 9.88% 100.0%
  98 QUOTA 115 470 1429 1433 73 199 495 462 4676
                     
HAKE 4X5Y % 4.05% 4.41% 24.95% 36.45% 0.59% 10.55% 13.41% 5.59% 100.0%
  98 QUOTA 89 97 549 802 13 232 295 123 2200
Table 4: Shelburne FG <45 quota shares in 4VsW
SPECIES DIVISION GROUP PERCENT
       
Pollock 4VW Shelburne 17%
  4VW Others 83%
       
White hake 4VsW Shelburne 16%
  4VsW Others 84%
       
Atlantic halibut 4VsW Shelburne 28%
  4VsW Others 72%
       
(Others refers to all community groups except Shelburne)
Table 5: <45 community quotas for 5Zjm
COMMUNITY PRISES ENTRE 1986 ET 1993 COD HADDOCK POLLOCK HAKE
           
ENS IDENTIFIED 14.846 5.89925 0.07075 5.782
  UNIDENTIFIED 1.383 0.758 0 0.104
  TOTAL 16.229 6.657 0.071 5.886
  PERCENTAGE 0.40% 0.78% 0.01% 1.11%
  1998 QUOTA 4.30 6.02 0.02 4.40
           
HALIFAX W IDENTIFIED 6.469 0.228 0.08 0.001
  UNIDENTIFIED 0.226 0 0 0
  TOTAL 6.695 0.228 0.08 0.001
  PERCENTAGE 0.17% 0.03% 0.02% 0.0002%
  1998 QUOTA 1.775 0.205 0.039 0.001
           
LUN/ QUEENS IDENTIFIED 44.69 1.81 4.56 0.44
  UNIDENTIFIED 0.06 0 0 0
  TOTAL 44.745 1.607 4.562 0.438
  PERCENTAGE 1.10% 0.21% 0.94% 0.08%
  1998 QUOTA 11.825 1.619 2.237 0.320
           
SHELBURNE IDENTIFIED 3576.9 796.383 437.758 458.06
  UNIDENTIFIED 198.19 26.283 15.676 28.05
  TOTAL 3774.09 822.666 453.434 486.1
  PERCENTAGE 93.08% 96.16% 93.21% 91.65%
  1998 QUOTA 1000.631 741.355 221.832 366.614
           
YARMOUTH IDENTIFIED 181.39 20.973 23.474 25.926
  UNIDENTIFIED 15.975 1.196 2.02 8.824
  TOTAL 197.365 22.169 25.494 34.75
  PERCENTAGE 4.87% 2.59% 5.24% 6.55%
  1998 QUOTA 52.328 19.978 12.472 26.208
           
DIGBY N IDENTIFIED 2.014 0.219 0.013 0.528
  UNIDENTIFIED 0.758 0.939 0.078 1.933
  TOTAL 2.772 1.158 0.091 2.461
  PERCENTAGE 0.07% 0.14% 0.02% 0.46%
  1998 QUOTA 0.735 1.044 0.045 1.856
           
SWNB IDENTIFIED 12.695 0.877 2.751 0.724
  UNIDENTIFIED 0 0 0 0
  TOTAL 12.695 0.877 2.751 0.724
  PERCENTAGE 0.31% 0.10% 0.57% 0.14%
  1998 QUOTA 3.366 0.790 1.346 0.546
           
           
TOTALS GRAND TOTAL T 4045.591 855.562 486.483 530.36
  GRAND TOTAL % 100.00% 100.00% 100.00% 100.00%
  1998 QUOTA 1075 771 238 400

Appendix 18: Maritimes Region groundfish stock tacs 1990-2017

Groundfish stock TACs
Stock Area 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002
Argentine AVWX 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 -
Atlantic halibut 3NPOs4VWX5Z 3,200 3,200 3,200 3,200 1,500 850 850 850 850 1,046 1,000 1,150 1,150
Cod 4VN (M-O) 7,500 7,500 10,000 10,000 M** M M M M M M M M
4VsW 35,200 35,200 35,200 M M M M M M M M M M
4X5Y 12,000 26,000 26,000 15,000 13,000 9,000 11,000 13,000 9,300 7,910 6,000 6,000 6,000
5Zjm - 15,000 15,000 15,000 6,000 1,000 2,000 3,000 1,900 1,800 1,600 2,100 1,200
Dogfish 4VW + 4X5Y - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Flounder 4VW 14,000 14,000 14,000 14,000 5,500 4,125 3,500 3,000 3,000 3,030 3,000 3,000 2,000
4X5Y 14,000 14,000 14,000 14,000 4,500 3,375 3,375 3,000 2,000 2,320 2,000 2,000 2,000
Haddock 4X5Y 4,600 M M 6,000 4,500 6,000 6,500 6,700 8,100 9,800 8,100 8,100 8,100
5Zjm - 5,000 5,000 5,000 3,000 2,500 4,500 3,200 3,900 3,900 5,400 6,989 6,740
Pollock 4VWX5Z 38,000 43,000 43,000 21,000 24,000 14,500 10,000 15,000 20,000 13,440 10,000 10,000 10,000
Redfish Unit II - - - 27,100 24,100 13,496 9,640 9,640 10,604 17,583 10,000 8,000 8,000
Unit III - - - 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 10,000 9,450 9,000 9,000 9,000
Silver hake 4VWX+5 45,000 70,000 92,250 59,875 23,700 45,000 45,000 37,500 49,500 32,340 20,000* 20,000* 20,000*
Winter flounder 4X5Y - - - - - - - - - - - - -

*See source note below.
**"M" indicates a stock under moratorium

Groundfish stock TACs*
Stock Area 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
Argentine 4VWX - 1,000 - 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
Atlantic halibut 3NPOs4VWX5Z 1,300 1,300 1,375 1,475 1,475 1,475 1,700 1,850 1,850 2,128 2,447 2,563 2,738
Cod 4VN (M-O) M** M M M M M M M M M M M M
4VsW M M M M M M M M M M M M M
4X5Y 6,000 6,000 5,500 5,000 5,000 5,000 3,000 3,000 1,650 1,650 1,650 1,650 825
5Zjm 1,301 1,000 700 1,300 1,400 1,600 1,200 1,000 900 500 500 500 500
Dogfish 4VW + 4X5Y - 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 2,500 1,250 + bycatch 10,000 (5,000 + bycatch)
Flounder 4VW 2,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000 1,000
4X5Y 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 2,000 -
Haddock 4X5Y 8,100 10,000 8,000 7,000 7,000 7,000 7,000 6,000 6,000 5,100 5,100 5,100 5,100
5Zjm 6,933 9,900 15,410 14,500 12,700 15,000 18,900 17,600 12,500 9,100 6,400 16,500 19,200
Pollock 4VWX5Z 10,000 10,000 6,500 4,500 5,000 5,800 5,900 5,900 6,900 6,400 5,440 4,672 4,381
Redfish Unit II 8,000 8,000 8,000 8,500 8,500 8,500 8,500 8,500 8,500 8,500 8,500 8,500 8,500
Unit III 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000 9,000
Silver hake 4VWX+5 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700 14,700
Winter flounder 4X5Y - - - - - - - - - - - - 1,600

*See source note below.
**”M” indicates a stock under moratorium

Goundfish stock TACs*
Stock Area 2016 2017
Argentine 4VWX 1,000 1,000
Atlantic halibut 3NPOs4VWX5Z 3,149 3,621
Cod 4VN (M-O) M M
4VsW M M
4X5Y 825 825
5Zjm 488 584
Dogfish 4VW + 4X5Y 8000 8000
Flounder 4VW 1000 1000
4X5Y - -
Haddock 4X5Y 5,100 7,650
5Zjm 21,830 20,500
Pollock 4VW 900 900
4X5 3,781 4,397
Redfish Unit II 8,500 8,500
Unit III 9000 9000
Silver hake 4VWX+5 14,700 14,700
Winter flounder 4X5Y 1,600 1,6000

**”M” indicates a stock under moratorium

*Sources notes:

Sources for groundfish stock TACs:

Argentine 4VWX

Atlantic halibut 3NPOs4VWX5Z

Cod 4VN (M-O)

Cod 4VsW

Cod 4X5Y

Cod 5Zjm

Dogfish 4VWX5Y, review

Flounder 4VW

Flounder 4X5Y

Haddock 4X5Y

Haddock 5Zjm

Pollock 4VWX5Z

Redfish Unit II

Redfish Unit III

Silver hake 4VWX+5

Winter flounder 4X5Y

Appendix 19: Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) mobile gear vessels <65' 4VWX+5

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to all Maritimes Region licences authorizing mobile gear vessels less than 65', fishing in NAFO divisions 4VWX+5, both ITQ and Aboriginal Communal Commercial. Note:  a separate CHP has been developed for Georges Bank (NAFO Division 5Z).

This CHP should be considered to be an “evergreen” document and will be updated from time to time, as necessary. The effective date of this CHP is April 1, 2016, and recent changes have been highlighted.

  1. Mobile Gear <65' licence holders are only authorized to direct for:
    1. Cod, haddock and pollock in 4X and 5Y;
    2. Flatfish in 4VWX;
    3. Redfish in units 2 and 3;
    4. Silver hake in 4WX; and
    5. Pollock in 4VW.

Directed fishing for any other species of groundfish will require a separate licence condition and harvesting plan.

Fishing Gear

Detailed descriptions of fishing gear (both fixed and mobile) are included in the licence conditions for this fleet.

  1. Minimum 130 mm square mesh when directing for all groundfish with the following exceptions:
    1. Redfish in unit 2 – minimum 90 mm diamond or square mesh size for any trawl type year round;
    2. Redfish in unit 3 – minimum 110 mm diamond or square mesh size for any trawl type year round;
    3. Flatfish in 4VWX – minimum 155 mm square (draggers);
    4. Flatfish in 4VW – minimum 145 mm diamond (danish and scottish seiners)*; and
    5. Silver hake – minimum 55 mm square mesh and the use of a grate is required.

*In the event of cod bycatch problems, seiners will revert to 155 square mesh.

Bycatch provisions 4VWX

Bycatch provisions for each trip will be:

  1. Bycatch levels of non quota species (e.g. white hake, cusk, dogfish) not listed below should remain at previous historic levels not to exceed 10% of all directed groundfish combined and should not exceed the established cap for the fleet;
  2. 5% daily bycatch of each cod and haddock , with a 2% overall cap (reviewed as abundance increase) when directing for redfish, flatfish or pollock in 4VW;
  3. Halibut fleet allocation to be fished as a 2% bycatch of quota species on board;
  4. 20% maximum bycatch of all groundfish combined when fishing for redfish with a mesh size <130 mm;
  5. 10% maximum bycatch of all groundfish combined when fishing for silver hake with a mesh size <130 mm;
  6. 10% maximum bycatch (each) of American plaice or yellowtail flounder, 20% maximum bycatch of witch flounder when fishing for groundfish with 130mm mesh or winter flounder with 155mm square mesh in 4X5;
  7. 10% maximum bycatch of winter flounder when fishing with 155mm square mesh or 145 mm diamond mesh (ie, flounder-directed fishing) in 4VW;
  8. Wolffish - 10% during any time of the year, not to exceed the cap established for the fleet;
  9. Monkfish - 20% for the entire season.
  10. For monitoring the catch levels of these bycatch species the aim will be to monitor overall levels along with specific trip percentages.  The fleet quota caps as listed in the licence condition schedule for the season for bycatch species are:
    1. White hake 4VW 28t
    2. White hake 4X+5 174t
    3. Cusk 20t
    4. Wolffish 4VW 10t
    5. Wolffish 4X+5 10t
    6. Dogfish 4000t for all fleets except FG<45’ in Maritimes
  11. Some flexibility on individual trips will be permitted, with overall fleet landings also being monitored to ensure they do not exceed quantities from previous years. Bycatch levels will be monitored and appropriate measures taken to identify individuals seen to be targeting bycatch species excessively.
    Areas may be closed for specified fleet sectors or individuals when these limits are reached or exceeded. As well, any individual licence holder found to be consistently exceeding the agreed bycatch levels may be required to have observer coverage at the individual licence holder’s expense or may be closed to all fishing.
  12. There is no authorized retention of sharks (except dogfish, as above) in mobile gear in the Maritimes Region.

Small fish protocol

  1. Fish are considered undersized if smaller than:
    1. Cod, haddock and pollock 43 cm
    2. Atlantic halibut 81 cm
    3. Witch flounder 33 cm
    4. American plaice and yellowtail 30 cm
    5. Redfish 22 cm
    Areas may be closed for specified fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of any of the above species.
    The small fish protocol applies to species that are the target of a fishery or caught as bycatch in another fishery (e.g. the small fish protocol remains in place for all bycatch in the small mesh redfish fishery).

Catch monitoring and test fishing

  1. A Dockside Monitoring Program will be required (100%).
  2. Vessel Monitoring Systems are required for all vessels.
  3. Small fish and bycatch closures will be of a minimum duration of 10 days.
  4. Test fisheries will be conducted after 10 days, all cost borne by industry.
  5. Opening of any test area in 4VW may require a test fishery to determine the cod and haddock bycatch level and presence of small fish.
  6. Once an area has been opened in 4VWX, arrangements will be made to carry observers on a routine basis to ensure that bycatch or small fish is within acceptable levels.
  7. The target for coverage is 5% to 10% in all fisheries with the exception of Unit 3 redfish (10% - 20%) and 4VW pollock (10%). Industry-funded observer coverage is calculated based on amount of catch seen and may be increased at any time with agreement between DFO and industry.
  8. Specific testing for small redfish and excessive bycatch levels will be in effect for the Crowell Basin area in 4X (coordinates below). When bycatch levels exceed the 10% all species combined (Item 7), all fishing in the Crowell Basin test area may require 100% observer coverage at the individual licence holder’s expense, when fishing with a mesh less than 130 mm. Closures may be implemented if consecutive tests reveal that the bycatch of other groundfish is less than listed in the small fish protocol.
  9. The Crowell Basin test area will be defined by the following coordinates:
    1. 42°51’36”N  66°54’00”W
    2. 43°06’36”N  67°09’36”W
    3. 42°57’17”N  67°43’08”W
    4. 42°53’13”N  67°44’34”W
    5. 42°43’54”N  67°37’36”W
    6. 42°51’36”N  66°54’00”W
  10. The following area will be closed to fishing with mesh less than 130mm, through Variation Order
    1. 43º 45’N 64º 45’W
    2. 43º 10’ N 64º 30’W
    3. 43º 10’ N 63º 40’W
    4. 43º 50’ N 64º 00’W
    5. 44º 04’ N 63º 30’W
    6. 44º 30’ N 63º 30’W
    7. 43º 45’ N 64º 45’W
  11. A licence holder may request to open this area to fishing using a test fishery with 100% observer coverage.

Open seasons

  1. Most groundfish - April 1 to March 31
  2. Unit 2 redfish - 3Ps, 4VsWfgj - July 1 to March 31
    Unit 2 redfish - 3Pn, 4Vn - July 15 to October 15

Closed seasons

The following seasonal closures will be in effect:

  1. 4Vn closed to all fishing – November 1 to April 30;
  2. 4Vsb closed to all fishing – November 1 to April 30; and

Spawning, juvenile and other closures

  1. Brown's Bank spawning closure – February 1 to June 15.
  2. 4VW juvenile area closed to all groundfish sectors – April 1 to March 31.
  3. Use of mesh < 130 mm prohibited in 4X north of 43°30'N.
  4. Use of mesh < 130 mm prohibited in any area where water is less than 50 fathoms in depth.
  5. Use of mesh < 130 mm prohibited in the Browns Bank spawning area – January 1 to June 30.
  6. Use of mesh < 130 mm prohibited in the area known as the Bowtie and defined by the following coordinates:
    1. 43°27’N  65°12’W
    2. 43°05’N  65°40’W
    3. 42°40’N  65°40’W
    4. 43°10’N  64°28’W
    5. 43°27’N  65°12’W
  7. Closure of Gully Marine Protected Area (except Atlantic halibut-directed fishing with longlines permitted in zones 2 and 3).
  8. Closure of Coral Conservation area in 4Vs (Stone Fence).
  9. Closure of Coral Conservation Area in 4X5Z (North East Channel).

Other measures

  1. Mandatory release of all Atlantic halibut < 81 cm (32").
  2. When the fishery is closed by variation order, all Atlantic halibut and/or white hake is to be released to the place from which it was taken and, where alive, in a manner that causes the least harm.
  3. In accordance with the Species at Risk Act all spotted and northern wolffish (catfish) must be returned to the place from which it was taken and, where alive, in a manner that causes the least harm.
  4. Directing for skate and dogfish is prohibited in 4VWX+5.
  5. Licence holders are required to hail-out and hail-in as per requirements in licence conditions.
  6. Licence holders are required to complete monitoring documents as per licence conditions.
  7. Any vessel that carries dual mesh size greater than or less than 130 mm will only be permitted to direct for the species that can be fished with the smaller mesh. The most restrictive rules apply. This means that when an individual is carrying 130 mm groundfish gear and 110mm redfish gear that fishing will only be permitted for redfish. This also applies when carrying both flatfish gear of 155mm and groundfish gear of 130 mm as the individual will not be permitted to direct for flatfish as only the species where the smaller mesh applies can be the directed species. Observers must be carried when the individual wants to o direct for both small and large mesh species on the same trip.
  8. Fishing in more than 1 stock area on any trip is not permitted unless an observer is on board the vessel. Fish must be separated by stock area fished.

Quota reconciliation

  1. Quota reconciliation is in effect for all quota-managed species. Individual licence holders have 60 days from the end of the season to cover all overruns using the same year’s quota or choose to have it subtracted from their initial quota for the following season.

Quota pools

  1. Licence holders may request to set up a quota pool with all of their MG<65’ licences to pool all quota to be permitted to fish it from 1 licence. The licences must all be in the same licence holder’s name to be eligible. The request to create a quota pool must be made to the Senior Advisor within 60 days of the beginning of the quota season to be accepted. Quota concentration limits remain in effect for individual licences.

Quota concentration limits

  1. The quota limit per licence as outlined in the operational guidelines for the fleet is 2% or 600t of permanent quota for cod, haddock , pollock, redfish and flounders, while it is 5% for silver hake (with some licences grandfathered at a higher level). Including all temporary quota, the in-season limit is 650 t of all species/stocks combined (except Silver hake). These limits include 5Z stocks.

Appendix 20: Georges Bank (5Z) Conservation Harvesting Plan

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to all groundfish vessels fishing in NAFO Division 5Z. This CHP should be considered to be an “evergreen” document and will be updated from time to time, as necessary. The effective date of this CHP is May 15, 2015, and recent changes have been highlighted.

The licence conditions for all vessels will authorize the licence holder to direct only for haddock and pollock, while FG will also be authorized to direct for cod and Atlantic halibut. Directed fishing for any other species of groundfish (e.g. yellowtail flounder) will require a separate licence condition and harvesting plan.  Given the small Canadian quota for yellowtail flounder, it has been reserved for bycatch by all fleets since 2013.

In accordance with the agreement with the USA there is a requirement to account for all mortalities and, if the Canadian quota is exceeded, any overage (including estimated discards) will be subtracted from the following year’s quota.

Discards will be estimated for all fleets and, where applicable, subtracted from the fleet quota. All discard calculations will be based on the fleet level but calculations will be made available to representatives if there is interest in applying the discards to specific licences. Individuals will be able to request higher observer coverage only when there are sufficient observers available to accommodate these requests.

Fishing gear

Mobile gear

  1. Minimum mesh size is 125 mm square when directing for haddock and pollock.
  2. It is mandatory to have a fully-operational horizontal separator panel installed as per licence conditions at all times.

Fixed gear

  1. Type and size of hook that has a minimum gape of 12 mm.
  2. Minimum mesh size for gillnets not less than 152 mm.
  3. Fixed gear must not be left unattended at any time (trip fishing only).

Catch monitoring, observers and other fishing activities

  1. 100% industry-funded Dockside Monitoring Program is required.
  2. Small fish and bycatch closures will be a minimum duration of 10 days.
  3. Areas on Georges Bank may be closed to various fleets based on the observed haddock and cod ratios with the requirement to test areas open after 10 days with all costs borne by industry.
  4. Vessels to hail out via IVR as listed in the licence conditions.
  5. VMS required for all vessels fishing in 5Z.
  6. Industry-funded observer coverage is based on a minimum of 25% subject to the following:
    1. The observer coverage is calculated based on amount of haddock observed.
    2. Coverage should be representative of the fleet sector by quarter and by zone.
    3. Observer coverage may be increased at anytime.
    4. 100% observer coverage for any longline gear fishing in the exploratory area of the coral conservation zone as described in section 17 of this CHP.
    5. No vessel will be permitted to fish in any stock area other than 5Z on any trip unless an observer is onboard.
    6. Observer coverage for fixed gear (except gillnet) will be 100% for June 1 – July 14 and 50% for July 15-August 31, 2015.
    7. Observer coverage for mobile gear will be 100% for the months of June and July, 50% for the month of August and 33% for September-December.

Bycatch provisions

  1. The catch of all non-quota species will be monitored and if individual landings are excessive or more than the historical average is caught by a fleet sector, closures for fleets or individuals will be considered or additional observer coverage at the individual’s expense.
  2. Any licence holder found to be deliberately or consistently exceeding the bycatch levels will be required to have additional observer coverage at their expense or the individual’s vessel class will be closed to fishing in that area.
  3. For mobile gear, 10% bycatch of flatfish while fishing for haddock and pollock of which no more than 5% of the directed fishery should be yellowtail flounder. 
  4. Directing for cusk is not permitted and the amount of cusk on any trip for FG vessels cannot exceed the lesser of 15% of the amount of cod, haddock, pollock and Atlantic halibut combined onboard the vessel or 3000 pounds round weight.
  5. Fleet sector Conservation Harvesting Plans may have more detail on bycatch protocols. For those species listed above, where the fleet CHP and this CHP differ, provisions in this CHP will be used.

Small fish protocol

  1. Areas may be closed for specific fleet sectors when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of cod, haddock, pollock or flatfish. Fish will be considered undersized if smaller than:
    Cod and pollock: 43 cm
    Haddock: 38 cm
    Atlantic halibut: 81 cm
    Witch flounder: 33 cm
    American plaice, yellowtail flounder: 30 cm
    Winter flounder: 33 cm

Coral conservation area

  1. The coordinates of the coral conservation area are included in licence conditions. Fishing within a portion of the area described in licence conditions can only proceed with 100% observer coverage, the expense of which will be borne by the individual licence holder.

Fishing zone

  1. The Bank will be subdivided into 5 zones or areas to allow for better management. The zones may be used to estimate discards, or to close for bycatch or small fish.
Figure 1
Figure 1: Zones established in 2004 – see TRAC Research Document 2004/04.

Appendix 21: Conservation Harvesting Plan Fixed Gear <45' 4TVWX+5

This Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP) applies to all fixed gear (FG) vessels less than 45’ who hold a fixed gear groundfish licence in the Maritimes Region. The CHP applies to all vessels, regardless of homeport, fishing in NAFO divisions 4TVWX + 5.

Please note that there is a separate Conservation Harvesting Plan for fishing in 5Z. 

This CHP should be considered to be an “evergreen” document and will be updated from time to time, as necessary. The effective date of this CHP is April 1, 2017, and recent changes have been highlighted.

The quotas assigned in the groundfish management plan for FG < 45’ will be allocated into community quota groups based on the operational guidelines for community management. CHPs are to be submitted by each management board within each community, noting that Shelburne has 2 separate management boards and Eastern Nova Scotia has a minimum of three separate management boards. The CHP developed by each management board will outline the manner in which the allocated quotas are to be fished. The CHP submitted by the management board is subject to approval by DFO; licence conditions may not be issued to members of a management board until the CHP has been approved. The management board CHP should include, at a minimum, the following information:

The CHP should also be accompanied by a copy of the management board’s current certificate of registration under the relevant Societies Act and a list of individuals who are eligible to make requests for transactions on behalf of the board (i.e. quota transfers, vessel class closures and requests for licence conditions). Beginning in 2013/14, the certificates for sub-associations are no longer acceptable.

Those not choosing to fish under a community plan will be able to fish under a plan designed and administered by DFO known as Group X. This fishing plan limits the number of days that can be fished (1 3-day trip per week or 3 1-day trips per week) and fishing starts June 15 each year.  Individuals who wish to fish in Group X must opt in no later than March 31.

A licence condition for all less than 45’ vessels will authorize the licence holder to direct their fishing only for the quota species that are under a TAC and for which community quotas have been allocated. Fishing for the non-quota species will be limited to recent total catches for this fleet to prevent any increased effort or redirection of effort. Directed fisheries for cusk and White hake will not be permitted in 4VWX+5. Two species of wolffish (northern and spotted wolffish) have been listed as endangered and must be returned to the water. The more common species in 4VWX+5 is known as the Atlantic or striped wolffish which is listed as species of special concern and landings will be kept to a minimum.

Directed fishing for any other species will require a separate licence condition and harvesting plan, however, there are very few species remaining that can sustain any additional effort. In 4X5Y and 4VW flounder is an alternate quota species but the available quota for the FG <45’ sector is low which will only allow for bycatch. While there was interest by some to consider community quotas, the majority did not support any change from a bycatch fishery.

Specific quotas will be allocated to each management board and any overage will be subtracted from the assigned quota in the following year. There is a 60-day reconciliation period where transfers from previous year quota is allowed to cover overruns. 

The guidelines for quota transfers between management boards are outlined in the attached Schedule 1.

All fishing will be closed for all vessel classes fishing under a specific community management board when any 1 of the main quota species (cod, haddock, pollock or halibut) in a stock area has been reached. Any closure of an individual group within a community as set out in a harvesting plan by a community management board will only occur if requested by the board. There will also be a review of closure options for other species such as white hake and cusk.

Fishing gear and bycatch provisions

  1. Minimum hook size will be changed to reflect gape size where the gape is defined as the distance from tip to shank. The minimum gape will be 12 mm in 4VWX+5 and 15.4 mm in 4T.
  2. Minimum mesh size for gillnets will be 5 1/2" or larger in 4WX + 5Y. Gillnets will be tended at all times outside 12 miles from any land where only trip fishing will be permitted. There will be seasonal variations that will allow nets to be set inside 30 miles during the summer period. Nets set inside 12 miles, or within the area allowed, during the summer period cannot be left unattended for more than 48 hours. In addition to these tending requirements anyone fishing with gillnets in areas outside of their homeport zone, as defined in their licence condition, will not be permitted to leave their gear unattended at any time.
  3. The total bycatch of all species under moratorium will be restricted to a maximum cap of 10% when directing for other groundfish such as pollock or Atlantic halibut in 4VsW. Flexibility of landings greater than 10% will be permitted on individual trips provided the overall fleet total does not exceed 10%. The total bycatch of moratoria species in 4Vn should not exceed the catch of the directed species (i.e. halibut and pollock), with an overall cap for the season. The individual landing amount is to be monitored by the various management boards but areas will be closed for vessel classes if bycatch limits are reached or exceeded. In 4T, the maximum total bycatch of cod in 2017/18 is 30% per trip or 45kg, whichever is greater. The maximum bycatch of white hake in 4T is 10% per trip.
  4. A maximum cap of 10% bycatch of all other species not mentioned above will be monitored to ensure that landings do not exceed quantities from previous years or the 10% limit, whichever is less. Any time the prescribed bycatch limits are exceeded, a test fishery as described below will be implemented. The cost of any test fishery with the use of an at-sea observer will be borne by the industry and an area may be closed for longer periods if consecutive tests indicate high bycatch levels.

Small fish protocol

a. Cod, pollock and white hake  43 cm in all areas.
b. Haddock  38 cm in 5Z*, 43 cm elsewhere
c. Atlantic halibut  81 cm in 4VWX+5
d. Atlantic halibut  85 cm in 4T
e. Flatfish (except witch in 4VWX)  30 cm in all areas
f. Witch flounder  33 cm in 4VWX

Areas will be closed when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of any of the above species.
*Small fish provisions for haddock on Georges Bank (Division 5Z) are outlined in the 5Z CHP and may change from year to year.

Catch monitoring and test fishing

  1. Dockside monitoring levels for the fleet are outlined in the attached Schedule 2.
  2. The minimum level of weighouts can be increased to 100% for individual licence holders if hails are not deemed accurate. The Fixed Gear Committee has agreed that moving to mandatory DMP will occur for individuals if the hail and landing differ by more than 40% on 1 occasion. Mandatory DMP will also occur when hails and landings differ by more than 20% but less than 40% on three separate occasions, provided each of the landings are above 500 pounds.  The requirement for mandatory DMP will be for the remainder of the fishing season.

  1. All licence holders are required to obtain a call reference number from the Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) “Just Talk” hail-out system prior to departure for any fishing trip. The licence holder/operator will be issued a confirmation number confirming that the hail has been received. This number is to be entered on the groundfish logbook in the appropriate space provided.  Licence holders will be notified at this time if an at-sea observer is required and directed to contact an at-sea observer company if so. Licence holders may also be notified that an at-sea observer is required by the “Just Talk” call centre or by an at-sea observer company.  Licence holders are strongly encouraged to hail-out through the Just Talk system a minimum of 6 hours prior to departure to prevent delays if an at-sea observer is required; when notified that an at-sea observer is required, no person shall depart from port without the at-sea observer on board the vessel.
  2. Licence holders are required to hail to the Dockside Monitoring Company (DMC) prior to returning to port as directed by licence conditions. All hail and landing data are to be entered by the DMC into the DFO data system with all entry costs borne by the licence holders.
  3. Logbooks are to be completed in accordance with licence conditions and the instructions in the fixed gear monitoring document. Only the Fixed Gear Groundfish Monitoring Document 2011 is permitted to be used (old versions are not accepted).
  4. Small fish and bycatch closures will be a minimum duration of 10 days. The cost of any test fishery with the use of an observer will be borne by the industry. Closure of areas due to small fish or bycatch concerns may be more than 30 days if consecutive tests reveal fish beyond the level as set out in the protocol.
  5. Catches of white hake should not exceed an amount equal to twice the catch of the directed species (i.e. 2:1 white hake to directed species). In 4X+5 the directed species are cod, haddock, pollock and Atlantic halibut. As well, the maximum amount of white hake should not exceed 10,000 lbs round weight on any trip. In 4VsW, the licence holder’s weekly landings of white hake should not exceed 5,000lbs round weight; percentage limits do not apply.
  6. Cusk should not exceed 25% of the round weight of the directed species and the landings should not exceed 4,000 lbs round at any time.
  7. High landings of either cusk or hake could result in additional observer coverage for individuals at their own expense or in some circumstances high landings could result in closure for the vessel class associated with the group for that individual.  If it is determined that an at-sea observer will be required, the requirement will be for a minimum of 6 trips by the licence/vessel.
  8. Landings may be compared for species ratios and size to determine if any anomalies exist when compared to average fleet landings or observed landing in an effort to deal with alleged discarding or dumping. Where significant variation exists additional observer coverage may be considered or possible closure to the gear type involved. When a closure is implemented a test fishery will be implemented and the area will be opened provided the species ratios or fish size continues to be comparable to the test fishery result.

Spawning and juvenile closures

Fisheries are subject to closures identified in the applicable regulations, variation orders and licence conditions. Coordinates for the closures are provided in those documents.

  1. 4Vn and 4Vsb closed each year from November 1 to April 30 (cod closure).  4Vn closure not strictly enforced in recent history due to the 4TVn cod moratorium on directed fishing.
  2. Western/Emerald Banks Conservation Area (the haddock box) closed to all groundfish sectors.
  3. Brown's Bank spawning closure each year from February 1 to June 15. Please note that fishing will not open on Brown’s Bank until 0001 hours June 16 each year.
  4. Fishing is not permitted in the waters of the portion of the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Zone in Division 4X at any time.
  5. Fishing is not permitted in the waters of the Lophelia Coral Conservation Zone in Division 4Vs at any time. 
  6. Fishing is not permitted in the waters known as Zone 1 of the Marine Protected Gully Area (MPA) as defined in licence conditions.

Other measures

  1. Directing for skate, sculpin, monkfish and any other species mentioned above is prohibited in 4VWX + 5.
  2. A VMS is required in 4X5Y and 4VsW if the following criteria are met:
  3. Mandatory release of all Atlantic halibut less than 81 cm (32”) when fishing in 4VWX+5 and less than 85 cm when fishing in 4T.
  4. Mandatory release of all thorny skate when fishing in 4VWX+5.
  5. Industry funded observer coverage will be required at a rate to be decided jointly between DFO and the <45’ Fixed Gear Fleet, with the objective of reaching 5% to 10%. Arrangements are to be completed by each management board or be subject to closure.
  6. All white hake caught and used for bait at sea must be recorded in the logbook and counted against the quota.

Community groups for 4X5Y stocks

  1. Eastern Nova Scotia:  All FG <45’ licence holders Sambro East to Cape North
  2. Halifax West:  All FG <45’ licence holders in Halifax County west of Sambro
  3. Lunenburg & Queens County
  4. Shelburne County:  (2 separate management boards)
  5. Yarmouth County
  6. Digby and Counties North in Nova Scotia
  7. Southwest New Brunswick

Community groups for 4VW stocks

Eastern Nova Scotia 4VsW Management Board consists of members from the Halifax West Commercial Fishermen’s Association (HWCFA), Eastern Shore Fisherman’s Protective Association (ESFPA) and Guysborough County Fishermen’s Association (GCFA), with input from the Cape Breton Fixed Gear Management Board and other 4X Boards that fish in 4VsW.

4Vn Cape Breton Fixed Gear Management Board has representatives from Maritimes Fishermen’s Union (MFU), the North of Smokey-Inverness South Fishermen’s Association (NOSISFA), the LFA 27 Management Board Society and the Richmond County Inshore Fishermen’s Association, with input from the 4VsW Management Board.

SCHEDULE 1
Fixed Gear <45’ Groundfish Quota Transfer Guidelines

WITHIN THE FG<45’ FLEET

Management unit Original group Transfer group Eligibility
       
Cod 4X5Y, haddock 4X5Y, pollock 4X5 Any 4X (or 5Z for pollock) Group Any 4X (or 5Z forpollock) Group When not overrun
  Shelburne A Shelburne A Anytime
  Shelburne B Shelburne B Anytime
  Q/L Q/L Anytime
       
Dogfish (4VW or 4X5) Any Group Any Group When not overrun
  Shelburne B Shelburne B Anytime
  Shelburne A Shelburne A Anytime
  Q/L Q/L Anytime
       
Cusk     Not transferable
       
White hake 4X5 4X5 Must be accompanied by quota for cod, haddock, halibut or pollock
  4VW 4VW
       
Pollock 4VW Any 4VsW Group Any 4VsW Group When not overrun
  4Vn   Not transferable
  Shelburne B Shelburne B Anytime
  Shelburne A Shelburne A Anytime
       
Cod 5Z, haddock 5Z Any 5Z Group Any 5Z Group When not overrun
  Shelburne B Shelburne B Anytime
  shelburne A Shelburne A Anytime
       
Atlantic halibut 4VsW Any 4VsW Group Any 4VsW Group When not overrun
Atlantic halibut 4Vn 4Vn   Not transferable
Atlantic halibut Any 4X5 Group Any 4X5 Group When not overrun
  Shelburne A Shelburne A Anytime
  Shelburne B Shelburne B Anytime
       
Atlantic halibut 4VWX+5 Any 4VsW Group 4Vn Max 2 mt
(incl. 4Vn, 4VsW, 4X5) ENS 4VsW Group Any 4X5 Group Max 10.8 mt */year
  Shelburne 4VsW Groups Any 4X5 Group Max 4.2 mt */year
*based on the Shelburne shares for 4VsW Atlantic halibut

Outside the FG<45’ fleet

Schedule 2 - 2017/18 DMP requirements

Catch on Board:       DMP Requirement:
     
Total groundfish   ≥5000 lbs     100%
     
4T groundfish   Any Amount     100%
     
4Vn groundfish   Any Amount     100%
     
4VsW Atlantic halibut   ≥500 lbs     100%
     
4X5Y Atlantic halibut   ≥150 lbs     100%
     
all Other Landings       25%

Appendix 22: Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee observer coverage plan for 2017/18

The Scotia-Fundy Groundfish Advisory Committee (SFGAC) has been discussing the at-sea observer coverage requirements for the groundfish fisheries. There are several drivers for the SFGAC to review both the coverage targets and our progress against meeting them, including requirements to monitor bycatch, particularly of species listed under the Species at Risk Act or being managed under the Fisheries Act in lieu of listing, as well as meeting requirements for eco-certification and export markets.

DFO in Pacific Region adopted a comprehensive Strategic Framework for Fishery Monitoring and Catch Reporting in the Pacific Fisheries. Based on this example, DFO is working towards a National Catch Monitoring Framework that will provide guidance for establishing catch monitoring requirements including at-sea observer coverage. Until this initiative is completed, the focus for SFGAC should likely be developing strategies that will help us meet the established targets, rather than reviewing the targets themselves.

Previous discussions have identified a number of gaps and challenges, as well as areas where the program is working well. For mobile gear fisheries, targets have generally been met on Georges Bank, but a number of fisheries have not met the 5%-10% level in 4X5Y, and fisheries in 4VW have had very low coverage levels. For fixed gear fleets, vessels greater than 45’ have generally carried higher levels of at-sea observers than smaller vessels. Fixed gear fisheries on Georges Bank have generally met targets, but overall coverage in the Fixed Gear <45’ fleet has tended to be lower than 5% and not spread across the area or seasons in a representative way. The halibut fishery as a whole has met or exceeded the 5-10% annually, mainly due to observer coverage on the DFO-Industry halibut longline survey. 

Availability of at-sea observers is a longstanding problem, and allocating observers across the region to the very dispersed Fixed Gear <45’ fishery is logistically difficult and expensive, especially in relation to the size of the catch in some cases. More recently, at-sea observer companies have not had access to hail-out information that they need to plan deployments.

In 2017/18, a number of strategies have been discussed to address the gaps and challenges previously identified:

  1. For mobile gear fisheries in 4X5Y, increased coverage was been achieved in fall 2016. DFO and industry should consider the appropriate level for coverage in 5Z fisheries, and the implications for meeting targets in other fisheries. For 4VW, there may be potential for DFO to target deployments to address persistent gaps.
  2. For Fixed Gear fisheries, DFO plans is to work with Management Boards and the Fixed Gear Advisory Committee to review and set targets in terms of the number of trips or sea days/year, and to provide more information to Javitech and ACD to plan coverage. A more detailed discussion is planned for March 31st.
  3. Coverage targets are set by Resource Management by fleet and target species, but in some cases we have had difficulty translating those targets into “picks” by the IVR system, and/or difficulty assessing the coverage we achieve by fleet and target species. DFO Resource Management, C&P, and Science are working on how to address these issues.
  4. Availability of at-sea observers has been repeatedly identified as an impediment to meeting targets. A second at-sea observer service provider started covering fixed gear trips in 2016/17 – we saw some progress last year, expecting that will continue this year.
  5. Establish regular monitoring and reporting intervals. For example, DFO could monitor progress against targets twice per fishing year and report to the AC on levels at the annual March meeting.
Mobile gear, all fleets
Fishery Coverage target* Rationale for target (Resource Management) 2010-2014 average level of coverage achieved** Fall 2016 review General comments
Haddock 5Z Minimum 25% (in CHP), usually 50-100% Winter and Summer To be able to calculate cod discards in the 5Z haddock fishery, primarily 40%, likely higher 2013-present 2015 - 75%
2016 - 74%
Have also used observer coverage to support gear modification experiment, monitor small fish catch. Meets targets
Haddock 4X+5Y 5-10% Monitor bycatch, compliance 4.61% 2015 - 2.7% 2016 (to Oct) - 3.6% Sometimes request additional observer coverage if large amounts of small fish or unusual bycatch profiles are observed. Meeting targets in some years, but low in 2015 and first half of 2016
Redfish 10-20% in Unit 3 redfish; 5-20% Unit 2 redfish Monitor bycatch, catch of small fish (redfish and other), compliance 4X5Y - 6.61%
4VW - 5.70%
Unit III - 2015 – 9.9%, 2016 – 4.7%
Unit II – 2016 – 1.3%, 2016 – 1.3%
Sometimes request additional observer coverage if larger amounts of small fish or unusual bycatch profiles are observed. 
Not meeting targets
Silver hake (4VWX) 5-10% Monitor bycatch, compliance 3.73% 2015 – 3.1%
2016 – 1.2%
Not meeting targets
Winter flounder (4X5Y) 5-10% Monitor bycatch, compliance 4X - 1.16%
4VW - 0 (v. low effort)
2015 – 1.4%
2016 – 2.1%
Not meeting targets
Pollock 5-10% in 4X5y;
10% in 4VW
Monitor bycatch, compliance WC - 5.23%
EC - 17.65%
WC – 2015 – 36.1%,
2016 – 47.1%
EC – 2015 – 27.1%,
2016 – 6.0%
High coverage in EC pollock was a result of pollock test fisheries in 4VW (2007-2011) with high observer coverage. High WC coverage due to high levels in 5Z. Meets target
* Targets are from MG<65' CHP (except 5Z). Generic target in >100' CHP is 10%, MG 65'-100' says 5-20%, to be decided by industry and DFO.
**Annual observer coverage for each fishery/gear category was calculated as the observer catch (t)/total landings (t) X 100. All values are preliminary.
Fixed Gear (by fleet)
Fishery Coverage target Rational for target (Resource Management) 2010-2014 average level of coverage achieved** Fall 2016 review General comments
FG < 45' haddock, cod 4X5Y 5-10%
In 4X5Y, 1 observed day per 50t of cod, haddock, pollock quota
Monitor bycatch, compliance haddock-directed only 2010-2013 is 1.84% Haddock only: 2015 – 2.4%, 2016 – 0.3% (may reflect bycatch in halibut-directed trips) Both the halibut and haddock MSC assesements have used observer data to meet conditions. Below target
FG <45' pollock 5-10%
In 4X5Y, 1 observed day per 50t of cod, haddock, pollock quota
Monitor bycatch, compliance WC - 1.11% 2015 - 2.8%
2016 - 5.7%
Below target in most years, met target in 2016 (likely related to high coverage in 5Z)
FG <65' haddock, cod 5Z 25% for longlines, except 100% in June. Minimum 1 observed trip/year gillnets Monitor bycatch, compliance, be able to calculate cod discards, Catch at age in assessment 100% in June-July 2015; average 23% overall 2010-2013 2015- 26.3%,
2016 – 18.5%
Meets target
FG <45' halibut 5-10% in 4VWX,
Gulf Region has asked to increase 4T coverage to at least 10%
Monitor bycatch, compliance, length info used in assessment all fleets,average 2009-2013: 3Ps 17%; 3NO 25-98%; 4V 14%; 4W 5.5%; 4X5YZ 12.6%; overall average 18% (incl. comm index but not fixed survey sets). Vessels <45’:
2015 – 3.8%, 2016 – 1.6%
Vessels >45’ : 2015 – 27.7%, 2016 –29.3%
Overall is meeting targets. But, key gaps identified by Science: NAFO Divisions 3NOPs from Nov to Dec; 4VW from Jan to May; 4X from Aug to Oct.
Also need to assess coverage by fleet
FG 45' - 65' halibut 5-10% in 4VWX,
? In 3Ps, 33-50% in 3NO
Monitor bycatch, compliance
FG > 65' halibut 10-20% (in FG 65'-100' CHP) Monitor bycatch, compliance
* Targets are from FG<45' CHP (except 5Z). Generic target in >100' CHP is 10%, 65'-100' CHP says 10-20%, to be decided by industry and DFO.
**Annual observer coverage for each fishery/gear category was calculated as the observed catch (t)/total landings (t) X 100.  All values are preliminary.

¹ FAO FISHERIES TECHNICAL PAPER 347 - http://www.fao.org/docrep/003/v8400e/V8400E00.HTM#toc