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Herring (Clupea harengus) Newfoundland and Labrador Region Divisions 2+3 (Herring Fishing Areas 1-11)

(Clupea harengus)


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

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

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

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

As with any policy, the Minister retains the discretion to make exceptions to, or to change, this policy at any time. It is, however, DFO’s expectation and intention to follow the management process set out in this IFMP, with a view to contributing to increased certainty and direction for the 2+3 herring fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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

Signed: Craig Hogan, A/Regional Director General, Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Table of contents

1. Overview of the fishery
2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge
3. Economic, social and cultural importance of the fishery
4. Management issues
5. Objectives
6. Access and allocation
7. Management measures
8. Shared Stewardship arrangements
9. Compliance plan
10. Performance review
11. Glossary of terms

1. Overview of the fishery

1.1 History of the fishery

Prior to the late 1970s, the east coast of Newfoundland (3KL) was not a major contributor to the Newfoundland commercial herring fishery. However there was a renewed interest in the east coast stocks in the early 1970s due to a decline in herring landings along southwest Newfoundland and increasing market demand for food herring. Consequently the east coast stocks were placed under quota regulation in 1976; however, the regulations only applied to the purse seine and ring net fleets. New regulations were introduced in 1980 to bring all gear types under quota regulation.

Historically, the southeast coast of Newfoundland (3Ps) has been one of the primary herring fishing areas in Newfoundland. From 1945-1950, landings of herring averaged around 30,000 tonnes, but declined during the 1950s and early 1960s to less than 3,000 tonnes annually, largely due to market conditions. In the mid-1960s, an extensive purse seine fishery developed first along the southwest coast of Newfoundland and then extended along the southeast coast.

In 1973, the southeast stocks were placed under quota management; however, inshore gears were not placed under quota management until 1980.

The herring stocks along the east and southeast coasts of Newfoundland support both commercial food and bait fisheries. [See table 1]

Table 1. Herring TAC and Commercial Landings (tonnes) 2005 to 2020
Year TAC Landings
2005 11,550 7,566
2006 11,550 6,254
2007 12,650 6,543
2008 12,650 7,575
2009 11,480 7,557
2010 12,370 6,446
2011 12,370 3,701
2012 12,370 5,058
2013 12,200 6,775
2014 12,200 5,655
2015 12,690 6,448
2016 12,690 6,468
2017 13,240 5,832
2018 13,240 5,571
2019 13,240 6,950
2020 13,240 3,680

Source: Policy & Economics Branch, NL Region

Note: figures have been rounded. The TAC for 2021-2022 is 14,842. See Table 2 for breakdown of commercial quota and bait allocation.

1.2 Type of fishery

Note: for ease of reference, the Divisions 2J3KLPs herring fishery will hence be referred to by the abbreviated reference of 2+3 herring fishery.

The herring fishery on the northeast and southeast coasts is a competitive fishery, with Total Allowable Catch (TAC) levels assigned for both fixed and mobile gear types. In the herring fishery, the TAC is further sub-divided into three allocation categories:

The fixed and mobile gear fishery is fully competitive with separate quotas for each fleet and for each gear type. [See Appendix 5]

There is also a bait fishery on the 2+3 herring stock in which harvesters are permitted to use gillnets to catch herring for use in commercial fisheries requiring bait, such as lobster and snow crab. Fish harvesters are not permitted to sell herring caught in the bait fishery.

1.3 Participants

Historically, the commercial herring fishery has supported up to 2,500 fishing enterprises; however, in 1995 a prohibition on new entrants was implemented.

In 2020, there was approximately 1409 fish harvesters licensed for fixed gear (gillnets, traps and bar seines) and 230 fish harvesters licensed for mobile gear (purse seines <65 feet).

Included in the number of commercial licenses are eight communal commercial herring licenses issued to Indigenous organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador. [See Section 6.3]

In addition, approximately 2,422 licenses were issued to fish harvesters to take herring for bait in other commercial fisheries in Newfoundland and Labrador region.

1.4 Location of the fishery

This IFMP covers the herring fishery in NAFO divisions 2J, 3K and 3L, and subdivision 3Ps as indicated in Figure 1. These areas are commonly combined and represented as 2+3.

Atlantic herring are managed by five stock complexes distributed along the east and south coasts of Newfoundland: White Bay-Notre Dame Bay (WBNDB), Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay (BBTB), Conception Bay-Southern Shore (CBSS), St. Mary’s Bay-Placentia Bay (SMBPB), and Fortune Bay (FB).

The five herring stock complexes have been divided into 10 quota areas or Herring Fishing Areas (HFA). Specifically:

Note: Herring Fishing Area 1 is in Labrador, but there is currently no fishing activity in this HFA.

Figure 1: Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Management NAFO Divisions and Subdivisions.

Figure 2: Map of Herring Fishing Areas around Newfoundland and Labrador.

1.5 Fishery characteristics

The 2+3 herring fishery is managed on a two-year management cycle. The current management cycle runs from April 1 – March 31. Science advice on the stock and subsequent advisory meetings with stakeholders and Indigenous groups occurs every two years. Additional review meetings with stakeholders and Indigenous groups may be added to this schedule for any reason deemed appropriate by Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO).

Herring is fished using both fixed and mobile gear. The fixed gear herring fishery uses traps and modified bar seines known as “tuck seines” and occurs in specific areas or bays. Fixed gear fish harvesters are only permitted to fish in their Herring Fishing Area of residence (any one area of HFAs 1 to 11).

The mobile gear fleet is composed of <55’ and >55’ purse seine vessels. Mobile gear fish harvesters living on the northeast coast may fish in Herring Fishing Areas 3 to 8 (Cape Bauld to Cape Race), while mobile gear fish harvesters living on the southeast coast may only fish in Herring Fishing Areas 9 and 10 (Cape Race to Point Crewe).

1.6 Governance

The Newfoundland and Labrador herring fishery is governed by the Fisheries Act; regulations made pursuant to the Act; and departmental policies. The key regulations and policies that apply include but are not limited to:

The Department receives advice on the management of the herring fishery through an advisory process. The advisory process solicits the opinions of stakeholders on past management practices and focuses on management measure recommendations for the upcoming season’s fishery. This includes recommendation on the TAC.

A 2+3 herring advisory meeting was held virtually on February 10, 2021. A list of the advisory meeting participants is provided in Appendix 3.

1.7 Approval process

This Integrated Fisheries Management Plan is approved by the Regional Director General of Newfoundland and Labrador region. Opening and closing dates for specific areas and gear types are determined by DFO area staff in consultation with stakeholders. Other issues that arise will be addressed through similar consultative processes.

Any changes to licence conditions are tabled by DFO officials at the biennial advisory meeting. Unless there are conservation issues, the intent is to manage the fishery based on the measures outlined in this IFMP. Stakeholders seeking new management measures are required to table their new requests at the next scheduled DFO-industry advisory meeting.

2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

2.1 Biological characteristics

Atlantic Herring is a pelagic fish that is widely distributed in the Northwest Atlantic, ranging from Georges Bank to southern Labrador. Along the east and southeast coasts of Newfoundland, Atlantic Herring are divided into five stock complexes based on spawning locations: White Bay-Notre Dame Bay (WBNDB), Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay (BBTB), Conception Bay-Southern Shore (CBSS), St. Mary’s Bay-Placentia Bay (SMBPB), and Fortune Bay (FB). Herring also occur along the south coast of Labrador; the stock affinity of these fish is currently unknown. All five stock complexes are composed of a mixture of spring and fall spawning herring which never separate into discrete spawning components.

Historically, spring spawners have dominated Atlantic Herring stocks at the northern extent of the species’ range in the Northwest Atlantic (i.e. Newfoundland and Labrador), while stocks to the south were largely comprised of fall spawners. During the early 2000s, fall spawner recruitment and the proportion of fall spawners in the population increased in all Newfoundland stock areas except Fortune Bay. This change was correlated with warming ocean temperatures (Melvin et al. 2009). While there are indications of strong spring spawner recruitment during the 2010s, fall spawners still comprise up to 70% of stock complexes on the northeast coast of Newfoundland. Recruitment within all stock complexes is highly sporadic and thought to be largely environmentally driven (Winters and Wheeler 1987 , Melvin et al. 2009; Brosset et al. 2018).

Spring spawning peaks between April and June, where fall spawning largely occurs between September and November. However, spawning times can vary widely (Winters and Wheeler 1996), also occurring through the summer months and into early winter. Spring and fall spawners are identified for assessment purposes based on their maturity stage at the time of sampling and otolith characteristics. The length at age of herring decreased significantly in the 1990s (Wheeler et al. 2009), and has remained low for both spring and fall spawners; younger fish (ages 3-4) were slightly larger through the 2000s than in the 1990s whereas older fish were smaller (Fig. 1). This change coincides with changes in length at 50% maturity, which declined through the early 90s and increased into the 2000s (DFO 2018).

Figure 3: Mean length age (mm) of spring spawners (left panel) and fall spawners (right panel) by decade.

Mean length age (mm) of spring spawners and fall spawners by decade
Spring Spawners Fall Spawners
Age 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2009 2010-2018 Age 1980-1989 1990-1999 2000-2009 2010-2018
3 264.5 252.8 269.7 262.2 3 na na na na
4 302.8 284.2 286.5 287.6 4 298.0 279.4 285.8 285.3
5 318.8 301.4 299.3 298.6 5 317.0 299.1 298.8 297.4
6 332.7 315.3 311.2 309.2 6 332.9 312.0 308.5 308.6
7 341.3 325.8 321.6 322.0 7 341.8 325.9 319.8 321.2
8 349.0 333.7 328.4 330.2 8 353.2 336.1 328.5 329.8
9 355.0 340.0 333.7 335.5 9 358.9 343.7 334.6 334.5
10 355.8 345.0 338.4 340.9 10 360.8 345.1 340.0 340.7

2.2 Stock assessment process

Atlantic Herring stock assessments are conducted bi-annually. In the absence of a quantitative stock assessment model, performance reports are used to assess the current status and future prospects when sufficient data is available to do so. A relative index of stock status is calculated for areas where a fishery-independent index of abundance is available and future prospects are evaluated based on recruitment and year class strength. Stock status is categorized as ‘negative, ‘uncertain’ or ‘positive’. Other data sources such as logbooks, telephone surveys, and commercial samples are used to provide additional information for performance reports but do not factor into stock status index calculations.

This stock was last fully assessed in 2019 (DFO 2019). A full stock assessment was planned for fall 2020, however due to the COVID-19 situation and resulting sample processing limitations, an internal stock update was held instead from December 1-2, 2020. This update provided an additional year of fishery independent data since the 2019 assessment and was used to update the stock status of BBTB and FB to 2018. Stock status is updated based on aging data and Atlantic Herring do not fully recruit to the research gillnet program until age 4 so there is generally a 3-4 year lag in the index. No new data was available at the time of the update to provide information for WBNDB, SMBPB or FB.

Stock status for BBTB was updated based on the results of the spring research gillnet program. The status index for both spring and fall spawning components was updated and then weighted according to the percentage of the catch each composed, providing a single stock status value. Stock status for FB was also updated based on the results of the research gillnet program, however fall spawners were not included as the comprise a very low proportion of the catch (Fig. 2). Stock status for St. Mary’s Bay-Placentia Bay was not updated, as recent age data from the research gillnet program in that area was not available at the time of the meeting. No stock status was provided CBSS as there is no fishery independent index in that stock area; there was also no update for WBNDB, however in future assessments stock status for this complex will be derived based on acoustic surveys.

Figure 4: Percentage of spring spawners (green/hatched bars) and fall spawners (orange/solid bars) in the spring research gillnet program in Bonavista-Trinity Bay and Fortune Bay.

Percentage of spring spawners and fall spawners in the spring research gillnet program in Bonavista-Trinity Bay and Fortune Bay
Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay Fortune Bay
Year % spring spawners % fall spawners Year % spring spawners % fall spawners
1988 97 3 1982 84 16
1989 90 10 1983 72 28
1990 92 8 1984 69 31
1991 90 10 1985 73 27
1992 90 10 1986 86 14
1993 87 13 1987 91 9
1994 90 10 1988 93 7
1995 91 9 1989 92 8
1996 89 11 1990 91 9
1997 89 11 1991 94 6
1998 82 18 1992 87 13
1999 74 26 1993 89 11
2000 71 29 1994 94 7
2001 64 36 1995 90 10
2002 85 16 1996 94 6
2003 67 33 1997 91 9
2004 55 46 1998 96 4
2005 46 54 1999 80 20
2006 55 45 2000 82 18
2007 40 60 2001 92 8
2008 42 58 2002 83 17
2009 39 62 2003 85 15
2010 48 52 2004 67 33
2011 40 60 2005 77 23
2012 31 69 2006 76 24
2013 45 55 2007 83 17
2014 24 76 2008 78 22
2015 31 69 2009 83 18
2016 54 46 2010 63 37
2017 48 52 2011 94 6
2018 32 68 2012 68 32
      2013 90 10
      2014 91 9
      2015 73 27
      2016 81 19
      2017 90 10
      2018 92 8

Acoustic herring surveys were conducted in the 1980s and 1990s, but were discontinued in 2000. These surveys were reinstated in 2019, with a fall 2019 survey of BBTB, a winter 2020 survey of FB, and a fall 2020 survey of White Bay-Notre Dame Bay completed at the time of this stock update; further surveys are planned going forward. Data from these surveys was not fully edited and processed at the time of the meeting. Results from these and subsequent surveys will be presented at the next full stock assessment and used in the development of Limit Reference Points for this stock going forward.

2.3 Stock assessment results

In BBTB, based on data up to and including 2018, the age distribution of the stock complex was stable with several strong year classes present. Fall spawners comprised 68% of the catch. The stock status index increased in 2018 for the first time since a sharp decline in 2015-2016, but still remains below values seen through the 2010s (Fig. 3). Recruitment of both spring and fall spawners was above average. Future prospects for BBTB and the overall evaluation of stock status were positive.

In FB, stock status increased slightly in 2017 due to the incoming strong 2012 year class, there was no change in 2018 (Fig. 3). The stock status remains low as a single year class is comprising the majority of the catch, creating an unstable age distribution. Recruitment was below average. Future prospects and overall evaluation of the FB stock were negative.

Figure 5: Stock status index of the Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay (left) and Fortune Bay (right) stock compleses to 2018.

Stock status index of the Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay and Fortune Bay stock compleses to 2018
Year BB-TB index FB index
1988 na 0.28
1989 na 0.68
1990 na 0.4
1991 na 0.4
1992 na 0.28
1993 na 0.32
1994 0.66 0.52
1995 0.41 0.52
1996 0.56 0.56
1997 0.60 0.64
1998 0.36 0.8
1999 0.22 0.6
2000 0.22 0.56
2001 0.12 0.84
2002 0.15 0.4
2003 0.28 0.4
2004 0.45 0.24
2005 0.51 0.32
2006 0.74 0.24
2007 0.91 0.24
2008 0.69 0.24
2009 0.66 0.24
2010 0.53 0.2
2011 0.61 0.12
2012 0.75 0.12
2013 0.52 0.12
2014 0.82 0.08
2015 0.89 0.08
2016 0.41 0.08
2017 0.37 0.12
2018 0.53 0.12

2.4 Research projects

The research gillnet program provides standardized age disaggregated abundance indices independent of the commercial fishery. This program has been run in all stock areas at various times since 1982, but currently only takes place in Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay and Fortune Bay. A similar short-term program was run in Placentia Bay from 2018 to 2021 under the Coastal Baseline Program funding. During both programs, commercial fish harvesters are contracted in the spring to provide catch rate data and biological samples of their catch using a standardized fleet of gillnets. In recent years, a dozen (12) fish harvesters participated in the program in the Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay and Fortune Bay stock areas, and an additional 4 in Placentia Bay. Catch rates at age for spring and fall spawning herring (e.g. numbers per nights fished) are available up to and including 2017 for Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay and Placentia Bay, and to 2018 for Fortune Bay. Catch rates only are available for 2018 in Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay and Placentia Bay, as biological samples have not yet been processed.

A voluntary gillnet logbook program was initiated in 1996 to provide information about bait net fishing activity and by-catch. Until 2017, logbooks were sent by DFO Science to all licenced herring commercial gillnet licence and/or bait permit holders in Newfoundland and Labrador region. The return rate of logbooks was generally very low. To address this issue, logbooks were made mandatory for bait fish harvesters in 2017 and included with online licence conditions. Logbook returns increased since, and follow up calls are being made to bait licence holders to ensure compliance and attempt to increase numbers further. This data will be incorporated into future assessments.

The gillnet telephone survey was initiated in 2006 and provides observations from a larger sample of fish harvesters in comparison to the gillnet logbooks. The information provided by these fish harvesters was used to derive the average number of active bait fish harvesters per stock area, and also to estimate the total bait removals. In addition, over the past several years, fish harvesters have been asked to provide information about by-catch.

Fish harvesters who complete logbooks and participate in the annual gillnet telephone survey are asked to provide their observations of herring abundance, which is subsequently used to update a cumulative change index. Specifically, they are asked “on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest, how abundant were Herring in your fishing area in the current (and previous) year?” During the 2017 assessment meeting, DFO Science decided that this time series could not continue as bait nets had to be set parallel to shore as of 2016, which could potentially change perceptions of abundance. This issue was addressed at the 2019 assessment by placing a break in the time series between 2016 and 2017, between which the results could not be directly compared Results are available to the fall of 2018 (DFO 2019).

The purse seine fishery telephone survey was initiated in 1996 and provides a qualitative evaluation of biological and fishery related information from herring purse seine fish harvesters. Each year DFO Science attempts to contact all active fish harvesters by phone after the purse seine fishery in the spring and fall. Response rates are high (90% or above) for most areas and years. Purse seine fish harvesters are also asked to rate their observations of herring abundance, on a ten point scale, similar to gillnet fish harvesters. Although there is not a purse seine fishery in Fortune Bay, a bar seine survey was implemented in 2015 to capture similar information.

2.5 Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge

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

2.6 Precautionary approach

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

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

3. Economic, social and cultural importance of the fishery

3.1 Socio-economic profile

Between 2011 and 2020, herring landings ranged from a low of about 3,700 tonnes (t) in 2011 to a high of about 6,775 t in 2013. Preliminary data from 2020 indicates landings decreased to approximately 3,690 t from 6,280 t in 2019. Landings for all years were significantly lower than the Total Allowable Catch (TAC), as indicated in Figure 6 below.

See description below

Figure 6: 2J3KLPs herring landings (‘000 t) 2011-2020. Landings Source: Policy and Economics Branch. TAC source: Resource Management. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

2J3KLPs Herring Landings (‘000 t) 2011-2020
Year Landings (t) Total Allowable Catch (t)
2011 3,701.3 12,370
2012 5,057.1 12,370
2013 6,773.9 12,370
2014 5,654.4 12,200
2015 6,447.8 12,200
2016 6,468.6 12,680
2017 5,841.2 13,240
2018 5,617.5 13,240
2019 6,256.1 14,842
2020 3,703.7 14,842

Between 2011 and 2012, Fortune Bay (FB) and Bonavista Bay (BB) accounted for the largest volume of herring landings. Smaller amounts were landed in Trinity Bay-Conception Bay-Southern Shore (TB-CB-SS), St. Mary’s Bay-Placentia Bay (SMB-PB), and White Bay-Labrador-Notre Dame Bay (WB-L-NDB).

During the 2013-2016 time period, Bonavista and Trinity Bays accounted for the majority of landings. Since 2017, landings in White Bay and Notre Dame Bay have increased and currently account for the highest percentage of landings. Figure 7 (below) provides an overview of landings by combined stock areas for the past decade.

See description below

Figure 7: 2J3KLPs herring landings in tonnes by stock area (2011-2020). Source: Policy and Economics Branch, March 2019. Data is preliminary and subject to revision. Note: 2015 data is for all bays; a breakdown could not be released due to privacy guidelines.

2J3KLPs herring landings in tonnes by stock area (2011-2020)
2011   832 1,577 1,292
2012   2,260 1,762 1,035
2013   4,335 1,172 1,267
2014   4,272 1,139 244
2015 6448      
2016   4,182 658 1,628
2017   1,986 1,471 2,385
2018   865 2,162 2,591
2019   630 2,740 2,886
2020   866 1,037 1,801

3.2 Dependence on herring

In 2020, there were 40 active enterprises homeported in 2J3KLPs with herring landings. Herring accounted for approximately 9 per cent of the total landed value of all species harvested by these enterprises. Snow crab was the most significant species in terms of the overall landed value at 64 per cent of the total, while other notable species included mackerel (9 per cent), capelin (7 per cent), other shellfish (7 per cent), and other groundfish (3 per cent).

Preliminary 2020 data from the provincial Department of Fisheries, Forestry and Agriculture indicates that approximately 9,790 t of herring was processed by 17 plants. This includes herring fisheries based in NAFO Divisions 2J3KLPs and 4R3Pn.

3.3 Viability and market trends

Over the past 10 years, the average price paid to fish harvesters has generally ranged from $0.1 to $0.22 per pound. In 2020, the average price declined to approximately $0.16 per pound (see Figure 8, below).

See description below

Figure 8: 2J3KLPs herring average landed price per pound 2011-2020. Source: Policy and Economics Branch. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

2J3KLPs herring average landed price per pound 2011-2020
Year Price per pound ($/lb)
2011 0.119
2012 0.15
2013 0.125
2014 0.1
2015 0.113
2016 0.136
2017 0.162
2018 0.1533
2019 0.215
2020 0.158

During the 2011 to 2020 period, the landed value of 2J3KLPs herring ranged from a low of about $1.0 million in 2011 to a high of approximately $3.0 million in 2019. Landed value declined in 2020 to approximately $1.3 million (see Figure 9, below).

See description below

Figure 9: 2J3KLPs herring landed value ($M CAN), 2011-2020. Source: Policy and Economics Branch. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

2J3KLPs herring landed value ($M CAN), 2011-2020
Year Landed value ($Million)
2011 0.97
2012 1.67
2013 1.87
2014 1.25
2015 1.61
2016 1.94
2017 2.09
2018 1.90
2019 2.97
2020 1.29

According to Statistics Canada, 2020 NL Herring exports totaled approximately 2,860 tonnes, with an export value of approximately $8.1 million. The majority (94 per cent) of herring was exported to the United States, accounting for approximately $7.7 million in export value. Other notable export destinations included Japan ($233K), Haiti ($85K) and Poland ($44K).

4. Management issues

4.1 Interaction with Atlantic salmon

The interaction of Atlantic salmon in the herring fishery has been discussed with stakeholders at herring advisory meetings and measures have been taken in the commercial herring fishery to mitigate the by-catch of Atlantic salmon and to protect their migration. See also By-catch and Interaction concerns (Section 7.7)

4.2 Catch monitoring

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

4.3 Aquaculture feed

Herring has been identified as a possible feed source for aquaculture. Herring for this purpose must be sourced through existing commercial licence holders within existing quotas.

4.4 By-catch concerns

One notable concern is by-catch of salmon and cod taken by pelagic traps. This issue has been discussed with industry and measures were implemented to minimize the potential for salmon and cod by-catch in the commercial fishery. See By-catch and Interaction concerns (Section 7.7)

4.5 Concentration of fishing effort and catches

Fixed gear fish harvesters are permitted to fish only in their Herring Fishing Area of residence (any one area of HFAs 1 to 11). Mobile gear fish harvesters resident on the northeast coast may fish in any of HFAs 3 to 8 (Cape Bauld to Cape Race). Mobile gear fish harvesters living on the southeast coast may fish in HFAs 9 and 10 (Cape Race to Point Crewe).

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

4.6 Oceans initiatives in marine conservation

As of August 2021, the Government of Canada  has formally protected 13.81% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas. The Government of Canada has further committed domestically to protecting 25% by 2025, and working towards 30% by 2030.

To meet marine conservation targets, Canada is establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs), 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.

None of the marine conservation areas established to date around Newfoundland and Labrador were designed to protect or benefit herring specifically as a conservation objective.  However, commercial fishing for herring is prohibited in some of the marine conservation areas, such as in the Gilbert Bay, Eastport and Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Areas (see Figure 10).

See description below

Figure 10: Map of Marine Conservation Areas in the Newfoundland & Labrador Region.

4.7 Habitat considerations

DFO conserves and protects fish and fish habitat by applying the fish and fish habitat protection provisions of the Fisheries Act, in combination with the relevant provisions of the Species at Risk Act and the Aquatic Invasive Species Regulations to regulate works, undertakings or activities that could result in harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat. The Department can authorize harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat and has the authority to manage or control obstructions. 

Proponents are responsible for planning and implementing works, undertakings or activities in a manner that avoids harmful impacts, specifically the death of fish and the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat. 

If proponents believe that their work, undertaking or activity will result in harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat, the Department will work with proponents to assess the risk of their proposed work, undertaking or activity resulting in the death of fish or the harmful alteration, disruption or destruction of fish habitat and provide advice and guidance on how to comply with the Fisheries Act.

For more information on projects near water please visit the Department’s Measures to Protect Fish and Fish Habitat at the Projects near Water website to determine how best to plan the work, undertaking or activity in a manner that avoids harmful impacts to fish and fish habitat.

4.8 Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

The south coast of Newfoundland (NAFO 3Ps) has the highest concentration of invasive European green crab, with infestations in the northern and western areas of Placentia Bay and have spread in Fortune and St Mary’s Bay. Currently (in 2018) no green crab has been reported from coastal areas of 3L, 3K or 2J. Green crab have also been found in large numbers in coastal areas of 4R, particularly near Bonne Bay and in Bay St. George, as far north as Port Saunders.

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

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

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

4.9 Gear impacts

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

The maximum tuck seine length allowed in the herring fishery is 80 fathoms; however, after August 1 each year, 20 fathom nets may be used. Fixed gear herring fish harvesters in Divisions 2+3 are authorized to use modified bar seines by way of licence conditions.

Purse seine (large and small), tuck seine, gillnet and trap gear used in Divisions 2+3 herring fishery are not considered to have high impact on the ecosystem. Although some seine nets do touch the bottom from time to time, the impact on benthic species and habitats is minimal.

4.10 Barging

On occasion fish harvesters have been known to undertake the practice of “barging” in pelagic fisheries. The practice of barging involves one vessel actively fishing and supplying one or more inactive participants with catch. The inactive participants were not geared up to actively participate in fishing operations. Fish harvesters are encouraged to review their license conditions for details as this practice is not permitted, i.e. all participants must be geared-up. See also Sharing (section 7.14)

4.11 Market access

There is a market demand for ensuring fisheries are compliant with the Precautionary Approach, as seafood retailers have become increasingly committed to selling only seafood that has been certified as sustainable. Some groundfish fisheries in 2+3KLMNO have been certified as sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and industry has established several Fisheries Improvement Projects to move other fisheries in 2+3KLMNO towards meeting or exceeding the MSC standard. These initiatives have resulted in an increased focus on the development of PA-compliant frameworks, including the establishment of reference points and harvest control rules, which in turn is resulting in an increased demand for management and scientific capacity and capabilities.

Other market access challenges include the need for comparability measures to meet export requirements. The United States (US) is implementing the import provisions of the Marine Mammal Protection Act following court direction. The import rule requires countries exporting fish and fish products to the US to demonstrate that they have regulatory measures in place that are comparable in effectiveness to those of the US for reducing marine mammal incidental mortality and serious injury in commercial fisheries. Countries who fail to obtain such comparability measures to the US for their export fisheries by January 1, 2023, will be prohibited from entering the US market. Canada must make final application by November 31, 2021 demonstrating appropriate measures are in place in all Canadian fisheries.

5. Objectives

Long-term objectives

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

5.1 Stock conservation and sustainable harvest

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

Harvest levels will be set that allow for the stock to grow and the mature biomass to increase. Consideration will be given to the level of recruitment in this stock. Furthermore, the herring fishery will be managed such that catches are not concentrated in a manner that would result in high exploitation rates on any of the stock components.

DFO will also work with industry to ensure adequate monitoring of all herring catches, while minimizing by-catch of other species and small fish. They will also work with industry to ensure migrating and spawning herring are not adversely impacted. This may necessitate additional closed areas and times.

5.2 Stewardship

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

Short-term objectives

5.3 Stock conservation

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

5.4 Ecosystem health and sustainability

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

6. Access and allocation

At this time, access to this fishery is considered to be limited and allocations are considered to be stable. However the Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements as outlined in this IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

6.1 Sharing arrangements

Commercial quotas are allocated by area, gear type and fleet shares which have been established through the advisory committee process. The TAC for 2+3 herring takes into consideration bait requirements in other fisheries and gear sector shares in the commercial fishery as established through the advisory committee process.

Les quotas de chaque flottille (type d’engin) et zone sont exploités de manière concurrentielle, à l’exception de quelques zones liées aux quotas individuels. Les parts de la flotte traditionnelle restent stables.

6.2 Quotas and allocations

Current commercial quotas and sharing arrangements by fleet, area and gear type are outlined in Table 2. The breakdown of TAC, commercial quota and bait allocations for each stock area is outlined in Table 3.

Table 2. Allocations by area, gear type and reserve
Stock area 2021-22 quota Gillnets/Traps Gillnets/Trap quota Bar seines Bar seine quota Purse seine Purse seine quota Reserve Reserve quota Total
Labrador 500 100,00% 500 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 0.00% 0 500
White Bay 2568 12.50% 321 4.20% 108 33.30% 855 0.00% 0 2,568
Notre Dame Bay 12.50% 321 4.20% 108 33.30% 855
Bonavista Bay 5990 (5.60%) 335 19.40% 1162 25.00% 1498 0.00% 0 5,990
Trinity Bay 5.50% 329 19.50% 1168 25.00% 1498
Conception Bay 895 12.0% 107 17.75% 159 58.25% 521 0.00% 0 895
Southern Shore 12.0% 107
St. Mary's Bay 2100 8.70% 183 4.30% 45 19.60% 412 39.10% 821 2,100
Placentia Bay 8.70% 183 45 19.60% 412
Fortune Bay 789 27.30% 216 54.60% 431 0.00% 0 18.00% 142 789
Pass Island to Cinq Cerf 400 50.00% 200 25.00 100 0.00% 0 25.00% 100 400
Total commercial quotas 13,242                 13,242
Total bait allocation 1,600                 1,600
Total 14,842                 14,842


6.3 Communal commercial fisheries

Indigenous fishing policy in Canada is guided by a vision of supporting healthy and prosperous Indigenous communities through: building and supporting strong, stable relationships; working in a way that upholds the honour of the Crown; and facilitating Indigenous participation in fisheries and aquaculture and associated economic opportunities.

As per the Principles respecting the Government of Canada's relationship with Indigenous peoples, the Government of Canada is committed to achieving reconciliation with Indigenous peoples through a renewed, nation-to-nation, government-to-government, and Inuit-Crown relationship based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership as the foundation for transformative change.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports the participation of adjacent Indigenous organizations in commercial fisheries. The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy Program (AFS) is designed to encourage Indigenous involvement in commercial fisheries and related economic opportunities.

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

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

The Miawpukek First Nation Band, NunatuKavut Community Council, Qalipu Mi’kmaq First Nation Band, and the Mi’kmaq Alsumk Mowimsikik Koqoey Association (MAMKA) have communal commercial herring licenses for 2+3.

7. Management issues

7.1 Herring Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 2021 and 2022 was set at 14,842 tonnes. The TAC was established based on the "Performance Report Approach" used to describe current stock status and future prospects, and the outcome of consultations with stakeholders.

For the purpose of a multi-year management plan approach, the TAC (and therefore the commercial fishing quotas) may either increase or decrease based on a significant change in the estimated mature biomass for any one of the herring stocks assessed. An increase or decrease resulting from a significant change in estimated mature stock biomass would be applied based on the current quota sharing arrangement.

Table 3. 2021-2022 stock area, TAC and quota allocation levels for 2+3 herring.
Stock area LAB¹ WB-NDB BB-TB CB-SS² SMB-PB FB PI-CF³ Total
Commercial quotas 500 12,568 5,990 895 2,100 789 400 13,242
Bait allocations 100 500 300 50 150 400 100 1,600
TAC 600 3,068 6,290 945 2,250 1,189 500 14,842


  • LAB (Labrador)
  • SMB-PB (St. Mary’s Bay-Placentia Bay)
  • WB-NDB (White Bay-Notre Dame Bay
  • FB (Fortune Bay)
  • BB-TB (Bonavista Bay-Trinity Bay)
  • PI-CF (Pass Island to Cinq Cerf Bay)
  • CB-SS (Conception Bay-Southern Shore)


7.2 Fishing seasons/areas

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

There are a number of factors DFO takes into consideration when establishing the season for the 2+3 herring fishery, including:

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

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

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

The fishing seasons for each area under this IFMP are outlined in Table 4.

Table 4. Fishing seasons by area and gear type.
Fishing area Gear type Spring Fall
White Bay and Labrador Fixed Gear Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Notre Dame Bay Fixed Gear Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
White Bay and Notre Dame Bay Purse Seine Apr 1 – June 30 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Bonavista Bay Fixed Gear Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Trinity Bay Fixed Gear Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Bonavista Bay and Trinity Bay Purse Seine Apr 1 – June 30 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Conception Bay and Southern Shore Purse Seine Apr 1 – June 30 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Fixed Gear Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
St. Mary’s Bay and Placentia Bay Purse Seine < 55’ – SMB Apr 1 – June 30 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Purse Seine < 55’ - PB Apr 1 – June 30 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Purse Seine > 55’ Apr 1 – June 30 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Gillnets and Traps Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Bar Seine Aug 15 – Mar 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Fortune Bay Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Gillnets and Bar Seine Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Traps Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Pass Island to Cinq Cerf Fixed Gear Tuck Seine Apr 1 – June 30  
Gillnets and Bar Seines Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31
Traps Apr 1 – May 31 Aug 15 – Mar 31


7.3 Quota sharing and transfers

Requests for changes in fleet sector shares may be brought forward for consideration through the 2+3 herring advisory committee process. In-season quota transfers between fleet sectors and bays within a stock area may be considered upon recommendation by the affected gear sectors. Quota transfers across stock areas will not be permitted.

7.4 Quota reserves

In some areas, industry supports quota reserves as a means to achieve a greater utilization of a TAC within conservation parameters. In those stock areas where there is industry support, reserves will be continued to be used as a means of providing more flexibility to all gear sectors in order to maximize utilization of the resource (i.e. herring).

7.5 Dockside monitoring program

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

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

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

In 2007, following negotiations with industry, an initial water deduction of 3.5% for herring was adopted and narrowed down to 1% in 2008 based on further testing. DFO will continue to recognize 1% as the accepted water tolerance for weighing of herring.

7.6 Modified bar seines

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

The maximum tuck seine length allowed in the herring fishery is 80 fathoms. However after August 1 each year, a 120-fathom length is also permitted for herring; this coincides with the 120-fathom length allowed for tuck seines in the mackerel fishery. Fixed gear herring fish harvesters in 2+3 are authorized by way of licence conditions to use modified bar seines.

7.7 By-catch and interaction concerns

One notable concern is by-catch of and interaction with salmon and cod in pelagic fisheries including herring. This issue has been discussed with industry and measures were taken to minimize the potential for salmon by-catch in the commercial fishery:

In addition, other measures have been taken in the herring bait fishery to minimize the potential for salmon by-catch. Bait nets are not authorized to be set at peak salmon run periods in most areas and must be set parallel to the nearest shore. Other measures have also been implemented, including the requirement for bait nets to be set with the head ropes not less than one fathom below the surface. Any incidental catch must be immediately returned to the water, and where it is alive in a manner that causes the least harm.

7.8 Herring bait allocations

Bait allocations have been identified as a component of the TAC for each herring stock area in order to satisfy bait requirements in other fisheries. Both commercial herring licence holders and bait-fishing licence holders may access stock area allocations to obtain herring for use as bait. Bait allocations within each stock area have been established on the basis of historic annual bait catches, and adjustments may be made to reflect changes in bait requirement. Fish harvesters are required to keep bait logbooks and DFO will track landings in the future.

1,600 tonnes of herring is allocated for bait fish harvesters. [See section 7.1, Table 3]

7.9 Control and monitoring of removals

All licenced herring fish harvesters regardless of length, are required as a condition of licence to provide detailed logbook records of catch and fishing activity. Those holding mobile gear licences may be required to carry an at-sea observer intermittently throughout the fishery at DFO’s request.

Bait logbooks must be completed by all harvesters and submitted at the end of the bait fishing season.

Fish harvesters participating in the bait and commercial fisheries are requested to provide information on their activities specific to Science program requirements.

VMS is required for all mobile and fixed gear tuck seine vessels.

7.10 Species at Risk Act (SARA) requirements

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

Licence holders are required to return Northern Wolffish, Spotted Wolffish or Leatherback Sea Turtle to the place from which it was taken, and where it is alive, in a manner that causes the least harm.

Licence holders are required to report in their logbooks any interaction with Northern Wolffish, Spotted Wolffish or Leatherback Sea Turtles.

7.11 Licensing

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

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

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

7.12 Regulatory measures

In accordance with the Atlantic Fishery Regulations 1985, no person shall fish for, sell, or have in their possession, any herring that is less than 24.76 cm fork length (9.75 inches); with the exception of up to 20% of small herring (by count) per fishing trip when the taking of small herring is incidental to the capture of larger herring. The minimum size provision does not apply to herring caught by gillnets.

Herring may be retained as a by-catch in a directed mackerel fishery when the quantity of Herring is no more than 10% of the weight of mackerel caught and retained during a fishing trip.

Herring caught as by-catch in a directed mackerel fishery in quantities greater than 10% is permitted only to a person who is licenced for commercial herring, in an area and at a time that is permitted for the capture of herring. See mackerel licence conditions.

A herring licence holder shall only fish in the area(s) and with the type and quantity of gear permitted under the licence.

In accordance with the Fisheries Act, DFO will strictly enforce requirements relative to data that must be provided by fish harvesters and processors/buyers. True information must be provided on quantity and value of all herring caught, bought, transported and processed.

7.13 Logbooks

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

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

The completion of bait logbooks is mandatory and returns should be submitted at the end of eth bait fishing season.

7.14 Sharing

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

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

7.15 Habitat protection measures

Specific habitat protection measures have not been identified for the herring fishery in area 2+3 due to the low impact of the fishing activity on habitat.

8. Shared stewardship arrangements

There are no formal shared stewardship arrangements in the 2+3 herring fishery. However as noted throughout the IFMP, DFO officials work closely with the harvesting and processing sector in all aspects of fisheries management, science, and conservation and protection. The advisory committee has been established to provide stakeholders with an informal and direct mechanism for input into the management of this fishery.

9. Compliance plan

9.1 Conservation and Protection program description

The deployment of Conversation and Protection (C&P) resources in the 2+3 herring fishery is conducted in accordance with management plan objectives, as well as in response to emerging issues. The mix of enforcement options available and over-riding conservation objectives determine the level and type of enforcement activity.

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

9.2 Compliance program delivery

The Conservation and Protection program promotes and maintains compliance with legislation, regulations and management measures implemented to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s aquatic resources, and the protection of species at risk, fish habitat and oceans.

The program is delivered through a balanced regulatory management and enforcement approach. Specifically:

Pillar 1: Education and shared stewardship

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

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

Pillar 2: Monitoring, control and surveillance

Compliance monitoring

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Compliance performance

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

Over the past five years, C&P has averaged approximately 1,811 hours annually of monitoring, control and surveillance activities in the 2+3 herring fishery. [See Appendix 7]

Pillar 3: Major case

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

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

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

9.3 Current compliance issues

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

9.4 Compliance strategy

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

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

10. Performance review

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

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

The Performance Review outlines the activities and controls that are used in achieving fisheries management objectives. Table 5 identifies the specific strategies that are used to achieve fisheries management objectives.

Table 5: Measurable objectives/activities and fisheries management strategies
Objectives Fisheries management strategies
Conservation and sustainable harvest
To conserve the herring resource to provide commercial sustainability to fish harvesters
  • Fishing season
  • Total Allowable Catch
  • Quota monitoring
To mitigate the impacts on other species, habitat and the ecosystem where herring fishing occurs, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function
  • Mandatory reporting of lost gear
  • Prohibit the use of monofilament netting material Species at Risk Act
To promote the development of sustainable fishing practices
  • Implement measures that discourage illegal practices
  • Licence holder shall only fish in the area(s) and with the type and quantity of gear permitted
To employ effective monitoring and surveillance tools and mechanisms that ensure compliance with conservation measures and provide scientists with appropriate information and basic data required to manage the herring fishery
  • The accurate completion of logbooks
  • Reliable dockside monitoring program
  • Adequate level of spatial and temporal at-sea observer coverage
  • Adherence to electronic vessel monitoring system (VMS) requirements
Benefits to stakeholders

To promote the continued development of a commercially viable and self-sustaining fishery

  • Aboriginal access and allocation formulas are maintained in the IFMP and opportunities for additional access are addressed through the Allocation Transfer Program

To provide fish harvesters with increased opportunity to develop long-term business stability

  • Stable sharing arrangement
  • Evergreen management plans
To promote a co-management approach, providing stakeholders with an effective sharing of responsibility, accountability and decision making within the constraints of the Fisheries Act
  • Establish an effective consultative process for stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process
  • Organize and participate in annual advisory meetings
  • Improve management of fishery through co-management

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

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

11. Glossary of terms

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

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

Age composition: Proportion of individuals of different ages in a stock or in the catches.

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

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

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

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

Bycatch: The unintentional catch of 1 species when the target is another.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fishing mortality: Death caused by fishing, often symbolized by the mathematical symbol F.

Fixed gear: In common usage, a type of fishing gear that is set in a stationary position. This includes traps, weirs, gillnets, shut-offs, longlines and handlines. Shut-offs have been referred to as beach, drag and bar seine in earlier documents.

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

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

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

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

Landings: Quantity of a species caught and landed.

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

Maximum sustainable yield: largest average catch that can continuously be taken from a stock

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

Mobile gear: A type of fishing gear that is drawn through the water by a vessel to entrap fish. These include otter trawls and Danish / Scottish seines.

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

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

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

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

Population: Group of individuals of the same species that form a breeding unit and share a habitat.

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

Purse seine: Fishing gear consisting of a large net used to encircle fish from a boat, called a seiner, and equipped with a wire rope on the bottom to draw the net together. A small boat, called a skiff, participates in maneuvering the net.

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

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

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

Species at Risk Act (SARA): The act is a federal government commitment to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. It provides the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of their biological diversity.

Spawner: Sexually mature individual.

Spawning stock: Sexually mature individuals in a stock.

Stock: Describes a population of individuals of 1 species found in a particular area and is used as a unit for fisheries management, e.g. NAFO area 4V herring.

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

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

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

Tonne: Metric tonne, which is 1,000 kg or 2,204.6 lbs.

Trawl: Fishing gear consisting of a cone-shaped net towed in the water by a boat, called a trawler. Mid-water trawls are towed within the water column to catch species, such as herring.

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

Vessel size: length overall

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

eans Canada

Appendix 1: Stock assessment results

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

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

Appendix 2: Management measures for the duration of the plan

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

Appendix 3: 2021 2+3 herring advisory meeting participants

Name / Organization / Representative

Appendix 4: Maps of Herring Fishing Areas (HFAs) around Newfoundland and Labrador

Map of Herring Fishing Areas (HFAs) around Newfoundland and Labrador
Map of Herring Fishing Areas (HFAs) around Newfoundland and Labrador

Appendix 5: 2+3 Herring quota reports

Quota reports for 2019-2020 herring in 2+3
NAFO Quota definition 2019 2020
Quota Catch % Left Quota Catch % Left
2J LAB - Gillnets/Traps 500 * * * 500 * * *
Total 2J 500 * * * 500 * * *
3K WB - Gillnet/Traps 321 * * * 321 * * *
WB - Bar Seines 108 * * * 108 * * *
WB - Purse Seine 855 * * * 855 * * *
NDB - Gillnets/Traps 321 * * * 321 * * *
NDB - Bar Seines 108 * * * 108 * * *
NDB - Purse Seine 855 1021 119 -166 855 * * *
Total 3K 2,568 * * * 2,568 * * *
3L BB - Gillnets/Traps 335 * * * 335 * * *
BB - Bar Seines 1162 * * * 1162 * * *
BB - Purse Seine 1498 * * * 1498 * * *
TB - Gillnets/Traps 329 56 17 273 329 16 5 313
TB - Bar Seines 1168 * * * 1168 * * *
TB - Purse Seines 1498 * * * 1498 * * *
CB - Gillnets/Traps 107 * * * 107 * * *
CB/SS - Bar Seines 159 * * * 159 * * *
CB/SS - Purse Seines 521 * * * 521 519 100 2
SS - Gillnets/Traps 107 * * * 107 * * *
SMB - Gillnets/Traps 208 * * * 208 * * *
SMB - Bar Seines 70 * * * 70 * * *
SMB - Purse Seine < 55' 206 * * * 206 * * *
SMB - Purse Seine > 55' 206 * * * 206 * * *
Total 3L 7,574 * * * 7,574 * * *
3Ps PB - Gillnets/Traps 208 * * * 208 * * *
PB - Bar Seines 70 * * * 70 * * *
PB - Purse Seine < 55' 675 * * * 675 * * *
PB - Purse Seine > 55' 458 * * * 458 * * *
FB - Gillnets/Traps 287 * * * 287 * * *
FB - Bar Seines 502 * * * 502 * * *
PI/CF - Gillnets/Traps 250 * * * 250 * * *
PI/CF - Bar Seines 150 * * * 150 * * *
Total 3Ps 2600 200  2600
Commercial Quota and Reserve**  13,242 * * * 13,242 * * *
Bait Allocation 1,600 * * * 1,600 * * *
Total Landings 14,842 6,334 43 8,508 14,842      


* To ensure that private information cannot be extracted from fishery landings and catch information, DFO does not provide landings and catch information for a specific fishery when the fishery has fewer than five fishing enterprises, five fishing vessels or five buyers participating in a fishery. This measure protects the privacy and economic interests of participants in the fishery. Note: totals and sub-totals reflect actual amounts landed.

** Reserve quotas are allocated to three areas only: St. Mary’s Bay-Placentia Bay, Fortune Bay, and Pass Islands to Cinq Cerf Bay. [See section 7.4]


Appendix 6: Safety at sea

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

In the federal government, responsibility for regulating shipping, navigation, and vessel safety lies with Transport Canada, while emergency response is the responsibility of the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG). DFO has responsibility for the management of fisheries resources, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, the provincial Workplace Health, Safety and Compensation Commission (WHSCC) has jurisdiction over health and safety issues in the workplace.

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

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

Fishing vessel safety includes three priority areas:

Fishing vessel stability

Vessel stability is paramount for safety. Care must be given to the stowage and securing of all cargo, skiffs, equipment, fuel containers and supplies, and also to correct ballasting. Fish harvesters must be familiar with their vessel’s centre of gravity, the effect of free surface liquids on stability, loose water or fish on deck, loading and unloading operations and the vessel’s freeboard. Fish harvesters should know the limitations of their vessels. If unsure, the vessel operator should contact a qualified naval architect, marine surveyor or the local Transport Canada Marine Safety office.

Fishing vessel owners are required to develop detailed instructions addressing the limits of stability for each of their vessels. The instructions must be based on a formal assessment of the vessel by a qualified naval architect and include detailed safe operation documentation. Instructions should be kept on board the vessel at all times.

Fishing vessel owners should also keep on-board detailed documentation on engine room procedures, maintenance schedules to ensure watertight integrity, and instructions for regular practice of emergency drills.

Emergency drill requirements

The vessel master must establish procedures and assign responsibilities to each crew member for emergencies such as:

Since July 30, 2003 all crew members with more than six months at sea are required to have taken minimum Marine Emergency Duties (MED) training or be registered for such training. MED provides a basic understanding of the hazards associated with the marine environment, the prevention of shipboard incidents (including fires), raising and reacting to alarms, fire and abandonment situations, and the skills necessary for survival and rescue.

Cold water immersion

Drowning is the number one cause of death in the fishing industry. Cold water is defined as water below 25 degrees celsius, but the greatest effects occur below 15 degrees celsius. Newfoundland and Labrador waters are usually below 15 degrees.

The effects of cold water on the body occur in four stages:

Vessel masters should know what to do to prevent themselves or their crew from falling into the water and what to do if that occurs.

Other issues


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

Emergency radio procedures

Vessel owners and masters should ensure that all crew are able to activate the Search and Rescue (SAR) system by contacting the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) early rather than later. It is strongly recommended that all fish harvesters carry a registered 406 MHz Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon (EPIRB). These beacons should be registered with Coast Guard’s National Search and Rescue secretariat. When activated, an EPIRB transmits a distress call that is picked up or relayed by satellites and transmitted via land earth stations to the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre (JRCC), which will task and co-ordinate rescue resources.

All crew members should know how to make a distress call and should obtain their restricted operator certificate from Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (formerly Industry Canada). Whenever possible, masters should contact the nearest Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Marine Communications and Traffic Services (MCTS) station prior to a distress situation developing. Correct radio procedures are important for communications in an emergency. Incorrect or misunderstood communications may hinder a rescue response.

Since August 1, 2003 all commercial vessels greater than 20 metres in length are required to carry a Class D VHF Digital Selective Calling (DSC) radio. A registered DSC VHF radio has the capability to alert other DSC equipped vessels in the immediate area and advise Coast Guard MCTS that the vessel is in distress. Masters should be aware that they should register their DSC radios with ISED Canada to obtain a Marine Mobile Services Identity (MMSI) number; otherwise the automatic distress calling feature of the radio may not work.

A DSC radio that is connected to a GPS unit will also automatically include the vessel’s current position in the distress message. More detailed information on MCTS and DSC can be obtained by contacting a local MCTS center or from the Canadian Coast Guard.

Collison regulations

Fish harvesters should have a thorough knowledge of the Collision Regulations and the responsibilities between vessels where risk of collision exists. Navigation lights must be kept in good working order and must be displayed from sunset to sunrise and during all times of restricted visibility. To help reduce the potential for collision or close quarters situations that may also result in the loss of fishing gear, fish harvesters are encouraged to monitor the appropriate local Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) VHF channel, when travelling or fishing near shipping lanes or other areas frequented by large commercial vessels.

Vessels required to participate in VTS include:

Exceptions include:

Additional information can be found on the Collision Regulations page.

Sail plan

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

Appendix 7: C&P enforcement data for 2+3 herring

See description below

Figure: 2J3KLPs herring enforcement hours from 2016-2020. Source: Conservation & Protection.

2J3KLPs Herring Enforcement Hours from 2016-2020. Source: Conservation & Protection.
Year Fishery officer patrol hours Fishery officer total work effort
2016 559 1,414
2017 527 1,447
2018 642 1,403
2019 784 1,868
2020 1,335 2,922
See description below

Figure: 2J3KLPs herring fishery checks from 2016-2020. Source: Conservation & Protection.

2J3KLPs Herring Fishery Checks from 2016-2020. Source: Conservation & Protection.
Year Vessels Checked Persons Checked Gear Checks Sites Checked
2016 47 37 136 138
2017 24 34 64 56
2018 39 35 105 135
2019 93 69 145 280
2020 34 23 84 369
See description below

Figure: 2J3KLPs Herring Departmental Violation System (DVS) Data from 2016-2020. Source: Conservation & Protection.

2J3KLPs Herring Departmental Violation System (DVS) Data from 2016-2020. Source: Conservation & Protection.
Year Occurrences Charges Laid Warnings Issued
2016 68 6 16
2017 44 8 13
2018 40 6 13
2019 57 7 15
2020 48 9 3

Appendix 8: Departmental contacts

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