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American lobster - Lobster fishing area 3-14C


Image of American lobster

American Lobster

(Homarus americanus)

This is the multi-year Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) commencing 2017 for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region’s American lobster (Homarus Americanus) fishery in Lobster Fishing Areas 3-14C, developed in consultation with lobster 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 lobster fishery, as well as the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to licence holders, DFO staff, legislated co-management boards, and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

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

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

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 Lobster fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.

This IFMP was developed in 2017 and it will be in effect until it is replaced. While the elements of this plan will remain in effect indefinitely, quotas (if applicable) are subject to annual review and may be adjusted based on updated Science information. This could include changes to the TAC, as well as adjustments to annexes and website listings. 

Jacqueline Perry
A/Regional Director General
Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Table of Contents

1. Overview of the Fishery

1.1. History of the fishery

The lobster fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador dates back to the 1870’s, with landings peaking in 1889 at 8,000 tonnes. The highest landings in the past 40 years was approximately 3,000 tonnes, with the annual average at approximately 2,300 tonnes.

In the 1920’s, there was a stock collapse which resulted in a closure of the lobster fishery from 1925-1927. After this closure, a number of regulatory measures were introduced to protect undersized and egg-bearing lobsters. 

In 1976, limited entry licences were introduced and a reduction in lobster licences over the years has continued as a result of various licence retirement programs in the 1990’s, the introduction of Enterprise Combining policy in 2007, and through the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures from 2010-2013. The number of lobster licences has decreased dramatically since 1990, by 47% to 2,400 licences issued in 2017.

In the mid-1990’s, a number of new management measures were introduced to sustain the lobster resource as a result of recommendations from the Fisheries Research Conservation Council (FRCC). These measures included:

In 2010, DFO announced the Atlantic Lobster Sustainability Measures (ALSM) Program to ensure Canada’s lobster long-term sustainability and economic prosperity. This program allocated $50 million to develop and implement sustainability plans for Lobster Fishing Areas.

In 2011, the Government of Canada and the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador reached an agreement with the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW/Unifor) on a Conservation and Sustainability Plan for the Newfoundland lobster fishery. The Conservation and Sustainability Plan consisted of three elements:

In LFAs 11 to 14B, a total of 104,000 lobster traps removed under LERP for a 36% reduction: 47,000 lobster traps through a voluntary trap reduction and an additional 57,000 lobster traps. Also in LFAs 11 to 14B, LERP resulted in a total of 262 lobster enterprises retired, which is a 23% reduction in lobster licence holders. These retirements also resulted in the cancellation of other species licences including:

The ALSM program also contributed to DFO Science and stewardship in LFAs 3 to 14C in several ways. Most importantly the funding provided to DFO Science with index fishery logbooks and at-sea sampling (sexes, sizes and maturities of lobsters caught), as well as data entry services for both of these data sources. (Note that at-sea sampling is the sole source of information regarding population structure with respect to sex, size and maturity of lobsters). The subsequent reduction in licences and traps in LFAs 11 to 14B also caused the nominal effort (maximum possible effort expended on fishing lobster) to decline, thereby reducing fishing pressure on the resource.

In 2014, the FFAW introduced the Fishing Income Improvement Program (FIIP) as a pilot project in LFAs 13A and 13B. The FIIP sought to improve the balance between harvesting capacity and resource levels by offering a reverse auction enterprise retirement. Although similar to the LERP, this program differed in that the lobster traps and snow crab individual quotas (IQ) were now available for re-sale in allotments to eligible fish harvesters. The FIIP had limited interest during the pilot; however it currently remains in place.

1.2 Types of fishery

The lobster fishery is a commercial fishery with a limited Indigenous Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) fishery. In addition, access may be requested for scientific and educational purposes. A recreational lobster fishery is not authorized in Newfoundland and Labrador region.

1.3 Participants

There are 2,400 commercial fish harvesters licensed to fish lobster in Newfoundland and Labrador region. Included in this number are a number of commercial communal lobster licences issued to Indigenous organizations in Newfoundland and Labrador.

1.4 Location of the fishery

This fishery takes place in 16 Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) around the island of Newfoundland. These LFAs do not necessarily correspond to biological units of the lobster population; instead they were traditionally developed based on geographic areas, such as bays. Licence holders are restricted to the area of their homeport in NAFO Divisions 3KLPs, residency in NAFO Divisions 4R3Pn, or where they have historically fished. 

1.5 Fishery characteristics

The lobster fishery is a competitive fishery, managed through input controls such as:

This fishery is prosecuted by vessels less than 12.19 m (40’) length overall (LOA), and in most cases vessels less than 9.14 m (30’) LOA. Lobsters are harvested close to shore using mainly traditional wooden lobster traps, although there are also a smaller number of wire mesh traps used in some areas. 

The fishing season ranges from eight to 10 weeks, from mid-April to mid-July, depending on the LFA; with the bulk of the catch caught in May and June. Lobster traps are baited and weighted to stay on the ocean floor. The traps are hauled by attached ropes marked with buoys on the surface of the water.

1.6 Governance

The Newfoundland and Labrador lobster 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 Fisheries Licencing Policy of Newfoundland and Labrador Regionprovides details on the various licensing policies that govern the commercial fishing industry in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region. Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) should be consulted for all purposes of interpreting and applying this document.

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 are determined by DFO area staff in consultation with the lobster committee in each LFA. Other issues that arise will be addressed through a lobster advisory process. Any changes to licence conditions are tabled by DFO officials at advisory meetings.

Unless there are conservation issues, the intent is to manage the lobster 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 advisory meeting.

2. Stock assessment and status

2.1 Biological synopsis

The American lobster habitat extends along the Atlantic coast from North Carolina to Labrador. In Canadian waters, lobsters may be fished in deep waters (e.g., Georges Bank, Bay of Fundy) but are generally fished close to shore in depths ranging from 1 to 30 m in Newfoundland and Labrador.

The life history of the lobster can be divided into a planktonic and benthic phase. The planktonic phase follows the hatching of the eggs in late May through most of September. The larvae go through the free-swimming period that lasts from three to 10 weeks depending on environmental conditions, mostly water temperature. The planktonic phase ends at stage IV when the larvae settle on the bottom. Molting and mating occurs between July and September. Generally, female lobsters extrude eggs one year after mating and carry the eggs, attached under the abdomen, for nine to 12 months. Thus, female lobsters are characterized by a biennial molt-reproductive cycle, though mature female lobsters at the lower end of the size range sometimes molt and spawn within the same year. At 1-2 mm below the minimum legal size (MLS) of 82.5 mm in Newfoundland, about 50% of females will extrude eggs during a spawning season. Fecundity and egg quality increase with size. Eggs from larger lobsters tend to contain more energy per unit weight, and larger females tend to release larvae earlier in the season, potentially enhancing growth and survival.

2.2 Ecosystem interactions

Environmental conditions, such as water temperature, can influence the distribution of Lobster as well as their catches. Over most of Newfoundland and Labrador waters the bottom temperatures are typically less than 3 °C, which is not considered favourable thermal habitat for Lobster. This limits the distribution of lobster to the coastal waters of Newfoundland and Labrador (i.e., < 30 m) where bottom temperature can reach high teens during the summer.

The adult lobster is thought to have few natural predators and commercial harvesting accounts for most adult mortality. Their diet typically consists of rock crab, polychaetes, molluscs, echinoderms, and various finfish.

2.3 Aboriginal traditional knowledge/traditional ecological knowledge

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the form of observations and comments from Aboriginal groups are considered in management decisions when provided. Fish harvesters have an opportunity to share their knowledge at the lobster assessment peer review process, as well as at annual LFA meetings and at the tri-annual lobster advisory meeting.

2.4 Stock assessment

The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Science Report 2016/052 provides additional information on the assessment of American lobster in Newfoundland.

2.5 Precautionary approach

At this time, a Precautionary Approach (PA) framework has not been implemented for the lobster fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador. 

3. Economics of the fishery

3.1 Landings and value

Lobster landings in NL Region have varied considerably since the late 1990s. Landings peaked in 2008 at close to 3,000 tonnes and declined to a lower level during the 2011 to 2014 period. Landings have since increased in the past two years to about 2,800 tonnes.

The annual landed value of the lobster fishery has also fluctuated over the period. In particular, landed value declined sharply in 2009 and remained at a lower level for the next several years. The decline in 2009 was primarily related to changes in market demand which occurred as a result of the global economic downturn at that time. In the past two years, lobster landed value has risen to peak levels, in excess of $35 million. (Figure 1).

Graphic Chart

Figure 1: Total Lobster Landings (t) and Landed Value ($M) – NL Region
Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region
Data between 2006 and 2016 is preliminary and subject to revision


Figure 1. Total Lobster Landings (t) and Landed Value ($M) – NL Region

Year Quantity (t) Landed Value ($M)
1996 2,367 $21.20
1997 2,262 $23.50
1998 2,035 $19.19
1999 1,813 $18.11
2000 1,758 $19.27
2001 2,116 $25.66
2002 2,059 $23.48
2003 2,256 $25.87
2004 1,910 $21.02
2005 2,613 $31.51
2006 2,643 $28.70
2007 2,567 $32.00
2008 2,972 $27.93
2009 2,501 $18.09
2010 2,597 $18.85
2011 1,934 $16.89
2012 2,104 $19.16
2013 2,201 $17.53
2014 2,138 $18.46
2015 2,725 $32.50
2016 2,853 $36.24

The average annual landed price per pound for lobster in Newfoundland and Labrador region has also varied over the time period (Figure 2). As noted, the decline from 2008 to 2009 was largely a result of changing market demand. Following that steep decline, the average landed price remained between $3.00 and $4.00 per pound for several years. Recently, however, the average price has increased considerably, reaching about $5.77 per pound in 2016. 

Graphic Chart

Figure 2: Lobster Landed Price (Average $/lb) – NL Region
Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region


3.2 Participation and distribution of landings

Newfoundland and Labrador region’s lobster fishery is concentrated primarily on the west and south coasts of Newfoundland (Figure 3) in NAFO Divisions 4R3Pn and Fortune Bay (i.e. LFAs 11 to 14C). In the 2014 to 2016 period, the lobster fishery in these areas accounted for more than 90% of lobster landings in the entire region. Close to half of all the lobster harvested in the region is landed in NAFO Subdivision 3Ps, primarily in Fortune Bay (LFA 11). In terms of landings, the most significant LFA in Newfoundland and Labrador region is Fortune Bay where about 1,000 tonnes of lobster is landed annually.

Graphic Chart

Figure 3: Lobster Landings (tonnes) by LFA 2014 to 2016 – NL Region
Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region
Note: Data is preliminary and subject to revision
Note: Other category is an aggregation of several LFAs that cannot be shown due to privacy concerns


Figure 3. Lobster Landings (tonnes) by LFA 2014 to 2016 – NL Region

  2014 2015 2016
Other 452.91 616.19 638.6
11 922.84 1078.39 1173.49
13A 269.06 285.76 308.6
13B 287.21 420.39 424.07
14A 205.99 332.5 335.58
Total 2138.01 2733.23 2880.34

Lobster does not represent a predominant fishery in NAFO Divisions 3KL or the Placentia Bay portion (LFA 10) of NAFO Subdivision 3Ps; less than 10% of the total annual lobster catch (2016) was harvested in these areas.

Approximately 2,400 lobster licences were issued in Newfoundland and Labrador region in 2016 (Figure 4). Of this, roughly 55% or 1,300 licenses were considered “active” or had recorded lobster sales. The activity rate was highest in LFAs 11 to 14, where it ranged from about 90% in LFA 13A to 100% in LFAs 11 and 12. The lowest activity rates (<1%) occurred in LFAs 3, 8, and 9.

Graphic Chart

Figure 4: Lobster Licences and Number of Licenses Active by LFA (2016)
Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region


Figure 4. Lobster Licences and Number of Licenses Active by LFA (2016)

LFA # of Licences # Active
03 55 0
4A 168 79
4B 318 142
05 220 132
06 196 41
07 138 21
08 75 5
09 31 2
10 293 74
11 262 262
12 38 38
13A 109 100
13B 125 122
14A 154 149
14B 166 143
14C 5 3

3.3 Dependence

Lobster in NL Region is primarily harvested by vessels <40’ LOA, although a small portion of the lobster licences are held by fish harvesters in the >40’ fleet sector. 

Dependence on lobster is highest in LFAs 11 to 14B, which is consistent with the level of active licences (Figure 5). For enterprises with lobster landings in these areas, lobster accounted for over 60% (LFAs 11, 12 and 13A) of the total landed value of all species harvested. Other significant species included snow crab, Atlantic cod and Greenland halibut.

For enterprises with lobster landings in LFAs 13B, 14A, and 14B, lobster comprised about 50% of the total landed value of all species harvested. Crab, turbot and halibut also comprised a significant portion of the total landed value for all species harvested.

For enterprises with lobster landings in LFAs 4 to 10, snow crab was the predominant species, accounting for 56% to 97% of the total landed value of all species harvested. The remainder is comprised of smaller amounts of turbot, capelin, cod, herring and mackerel. 

Graphic Chart

Figure 5: Species as a Percentage of Total Landed Value 2016 – Active Lobster Licence Holders
Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region
Note: Data is preliminary and subject to revision.


Figure 5. Species as a Percentage of Total Landed Value 2016 – Active Lobster Licence Holders

Species 4A 4B 5 6 7 8 10 11 12 13A 13B 14A 14B
Lobster 12% 10% 9% 5% 6% 1% 20% 78% 72% 55% 57% 48% 54%
Crab 50% 51% 70% 74% 84% 91% 43% 6% 0% 18% 16% 12% 1%
Cod 20% 18% 10% 11% 5% 8% 33% 4% 6% 1% 0% 2% 5%
Capelin 14% 11% 6% 4% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 6% 6% 1% 4%
Mackerel 3% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 5% 6% 0% 2%
Herring 0% 0% 1% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 9% 9% 2% 3%
Turbot 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 0% 15% 5%
Halibut 0% 2% 0% 1% 0% 0% 0% 4% 14% 6% 6% 8% 13%
Other 1% 6% 4% 6% 4% 0% 3% 7% 7% 0% 0% 11% 13%

4. Management issues

4.1 Fisheries issues

4.1.1 Limites egg production

The current egg production in Newfoundland lobster populations is relatively low compared to its potential. The number and quality of eggs produced by lobsters is crucial to the health and sustainability of the lobster population.

Conservation measures such as the voluntary V-notching program can contribute to the sustainability of the Newfoundland and Labrador region lobster fishery by allowing female lobster to reproduce more than once and grow to larger sizes and produce higher quality eggs. 

4.1.2 High exploitation rate

The exploitation rate in the Newfoundland lobster fishery is believed to be very high with estimates as high as 90% for the Newfoundland lobster populations. Every year almost all of the legal sized lobsters are caught during the commercial fishery. The exploitation rate is defined as the proportion of the fishable stock of lobsters that is removed by fishing in a given year. The following year’s fishery is dependent upon the lobsters that grow after the fishing season.

The number and quality of eggs produced by lobsters is crucial to the health and sustainability of the lobster population. To have sufficient egg production to protect recruitment potential, the standard is to have minimum size at or above the size where female maturity is 50% (SOM) or equivalent. In Newfoundland and Labrador region it is estimated that 50% of female lobsters mature at 81 mm carapace length, therefore with the current carapace length of 82.5 mm as the minimum legal size (MLS), it is believed that the Newfoundland lobster fishery is sustainable. However, with a highly exploited fishery, much of the population is retained once the lobster reaches legal size with little chance of growing larger. Small female lobster produce a small number of eggs, compared to older lobster that produce more eggs that are also of higher quality.

4.1.3 Fishery data

In the past, the lobster fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador was data deficient. Lobster landings are not subject to an independent third-party dockside monitoring program (DMP), therefore information about landings was unknown for many years. Lobster buyers submitted sales reports to DFO, however this did not include records on local sales and personal use consumption. In 2010, a mandatory lobster logbook program was introduced in all LFAs. This logbook data helps to monitor fishing effort, and quantify conservation measures such as V-notching. The logbook return rate is typically low.

Since 2004, DFO and the FFAW have collaborated on a Lobster Monitoring Project involving Lobster fish harvesters. The Lobster Monitoring Project consists of two initiatives:

These logbooks are provided to at least 15-20% license holders in each area for their voluntary completion daily throughout the fishing season. At-sea samplers assist these fish harvesters with sampling and recording data.

The Lobster Monitoring Project also involves measuring the bottom temperature in each LFA. In 2009, the project was expanded to include more at-sea sampling to enhance the biological data collected. DFO Science uses this data for the assessment of the Newfoundland lobster stocks.

4.1.4 Gear conflicts

For a number of years, there have been concerns about the incidental catch of lobsters and the possible destruction of lobster habitat in the scallop fishery. In some areas, DFO has implemented a number of mitigation measures to protect lobster and lobster habitat from the effects of dragging, such as seasonal closed areas and seasonal closures by water depth. 

However in NAFO Division 3Ps (LFAs 10 & 11) it has been more challenging to reach consensus on how to protect lobster and lobster habitat, while still allowing a scallop fishery to proceed. A number of attempts by DFO to mediate a resolution were unsuccessful, however the dialogue continues with implicated fish harvesters.

4.2 Oceans and habitat considerations

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

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

In recent years, fish habitat offsetting associated with authorizations for numerous marine developments (such as wharves and breakwaters) has resulted in the creation or improvement of habitat for various life stages of lobster. The avoidance of harm to lobster habitat and enhancements to lobster habitat through offsetting will continue to be a priority for the DFO Fisheries Protection Program in Newfoundland and Labrador region.

4.2.1 Oceans initiatives in marine conservation

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

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

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

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

Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs) which have been identified within the two Bioregions will play an important role in the MPA Network.

The primary goal of MPA networks is to provide long-term protection of marine biodiversity, ecosystem function and special natural features. In addition, there are three Other Measures established under the Fisheries Act that also provide biodiversity conservation benefits in the EGSL within 4R: the Bay of Islands salmon closure area (212 km2) is closed to all fixed pelagic gear to protect Atlantic salmon migration but pot fishing, purse seining and herring bait net fishing are permitted; Shoal Point (0.65 km2) and Trout River (0.65 km2) are also closed to lobster fishing with a stock management objective of increasing lobster egg production.

Map of NL and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion

Figure 6: Map of NL and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregion

4.3 Gear impacts

The lobster traps used in Newfoundland and Labrador region are considered to have an insignificant to low impact to the ecosystem, although there can be damage to the ocean floor from a trap due to wave action. In addition, the volume of traps may also have an increased impact on the ocean floor.

Lobster traps are lost every season due to ice, and/or extreme maritime weather. Harvesters are required by condition of licence to report any lost pots within 48 hours of discovering the loss. The biodegradable lathe in the lobster trap will eventually stop it from ghost fishing.

4.4 Aquatic invasive species (AIS)

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

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

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

4.5 International issues

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

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

5. Objectives

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

5.1 Ensure sustainable harvesting of lobster

5.2 Short-term objectives

6. Access and allocation

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 Access / Licensing

The commercial lobster fishery is limited entry and access is granted through the issuance of licences authorized under the absolute discretion of the Minister as per section 7 of the Fisheries Act. There is no new access (licences) available for this fishery. Only fish harvesters who held a licence in the previous year will be eligible for renewal of that licence in the current year. 

Current legislation provides that licences are not eligible for re-issuance. However, the Minister in his absolute discretion may for administrative efficiency prescribe in policy those conditions or requirements under which a licence may be issued to a new licence holder as a replacement for a licence that is being relinquished, pending the recipient’s eligibility.

Licences held by core and independent core fish harvesters may be re-issued to a qualified new entrant upon request of the current licence holder. Licences held by non-core fish harvesters are not eligible for re-issuance.

The FIIP pilot project had limited interest during the pilot; only two enterprises were removed from the fishery in 2015. The snow crab IQs and lobster traps from these two enterprises were available for re-sale (combining). The snow crab IQs were sold immediately, however the lobster traps have not all been sold under this pilot. Of the 440 traps initially available for re-sale, 230 remain available.

In 2017, 2,400 commercial licences were issued for lobster. A number of these were issued to Indigenous organizations for commercial communal purposes, as well as for Food, Social and Ceremonial purposes. In addition, access may be requested for scientific and educational purposes.

A recreational lobster fishery is not authorized in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region. The current number of commercial lobster licences by LFA is provided in Appendix 1.

6.1.1 Commercial communal and communal fisheries

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

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

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

6.2 Allocations

The lobster fishery in Newfoundland is an effort-controlled fishery with no assigned quota. In other words, there is no assigned Total Allowable Catch (TAC).

7. Management measures

7.1 Fishing seasons

The duration of the lobster fishing season is designed to restrict lobster harvesting when molting and reproduction occurs. Molting generally begins mid-July in most LFAs. Mating begins immediately following the female moult. Therefore, the lobster fishing season generally ends no later than mid-July. 

The season duration is a fixed number of days for each LFA as determined in consultation with industry in the 1990’s based on recommendations from various sources such as the FRCC. The length of the lobster fishing season is provided in Appendix 2. 

DFO announces season opening and closing dates using the Notice to Fish Harvesters system.

7.1.1 Two-day trap setting period

To ensure the safety of fish harvesters, there is a two-day trap setting period at the start of the lobster fishing season throughout all LFAs. Harvesters are prohibited from retrieving traps from the water until 48 hours after 0600 hours on the season opening date. This measure was introduced in 2001 at the request of fish harvesters to provide ample time to set their traps safely and not overload their boats in a rush to begin hauling their traps. This two-day period does not affect the overall number of days in the fishing season that fish harvesters have to haul their gear.

7.1.2 No sunday fishing

Since 2002, a number of LFAs have implemented a “no fishing on Sunday” measure as a means to reduce the number of fishing days (effort). Through a condition of licence, fish harvesters in LFAs 4A, 4B, 10, 13B, 14A, 14B, and 14C are prohibited from retrieving lobster traps from 2100 hours on Saturday until 0500 hours on Monday. 

7.2 Control and monitoring of removals

7.2.1 Lobster trap limits

Note: the terminology “lobster trap” and “lobster pot” are used inter-changeably throughout Newfoundland and Labrador region. 

Fish harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador region are authorized to use a specific number of traps when fishing lobster. The number of traps varies depending on the LFA and the status of the licence holder. Independent core fish harvesters with a trap limit lower than the maximum trap limit for their LFA may have their traps amended for the LFA maximum trap limit. The maximum number of traps authorized in each LFA is outlined in Appendix 2.

Individuals who were designated as part-time in 1996 will maintain the same number of traps they held in 1996, up to the maximum for that LFA; with the exception of those licence holders in LFA 4A or 4B, where the maximum number of traps is 200.

7.2.2 Trap tagging

Lobster trap tags are used to ensure that trap limits are respected. Tags are issued to licence holders in accordance with Protocol for Gear Tagging in Atlantic Commercial Fisheries. The fish harvester shall complete the record of fishing gear tags form provided with their licence conditions when they are issued their initial tags and any replacement tags.

7.2.3 Lost traps

Fish harvesters are required by condition of licence to report any lost gear to DFO within 48 hours of becoming aware of the lost gear.

7.2.4 Tag replacement policy

In the event of lost lobster traps or lobster trap tags, tags will be replaced on a one-for-one basis as required.

7.2.5 Logbooks

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

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

7.2.6 Other

The following programs do not apply to the Newfoundland lobster fishery: 

7.3 Species at Risk Act (SARA)

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 Actthat are known to incidentally capture leatherback sea turtles.

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

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

7.4 Buddy-up

Buddy-Up is a temporary arrangement allowing a maximum of two licence holders holding valid lobster licences for the same fishing area to operate from the same vessel registered by either of the fish harvesters. For the lobster fishery, buddy-up is authorized in LFAs 12, 13A, 13B, 14A, 14B, and 14C.

7.5 Lobster pound licence

A lobster pound licence is required under S.61 (1) of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations 1985in order to retain live lobsters legally caught during the open season and held for sale during the closed season.

7.6 V-notching program

The V-notching program has been in place in western Newfoundland since 1994, and was expanded to all of Newfoundland in 1996. V-notching is one way to increase egg production in lobster populations within a relatively short period of time without requiring a reduction in fishing effort or landings.

V-notching is a wedge-shaped cut in the tail fan of an ovigerous (egg-bearing) female lobster, after which they are carefully returned to the ocean. The notch is made with a special tool that cuts a V-shaped wedge in the tail fan immediately to the right of the center section of the tail when the back is facing up and the tail is facing towards you. (The use of a knife to cut a notch could damage the tail by making the notch too deep or too wide.)

The V-notch is visible for a number of moults thereby protecting known reproducing females even though they may not be egg-bearing (berried). This gives them time to grow larger, spawn several times and produce a greater number of good quality eggs. Ideally, the V-notch can be re-applied before it disappears to keep egg-bearing females marked permanently. 

For the duration of this IFMP, the voluntary V-notching of berried female lobster by fish harvesters is authorized. Conditions of licence make it illegal to retain a V-notched lobster, or a lobster with that section of the tail fan missing, disfigured and/or tampered with in any way, as it is considered that this lobster has been V-notched. All V-notched lobsters caught must be returned to the ocean. 

Image of V-notched lobster

Figure 7: V-notched lobster

7.7 Closed areas

In 1995, the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) recommended that closed areas would help to increase lobster egg production. DFO advised local lobster committees of the potential of small closed areas and these committees identified 10 Conservation Management Zones that are closed in Newfoundland to increase lobster egg production. These closures are in effect from January 1 to December 31 each year. DFO will collaborate with lobster committees to establish additional closed areas.

The Conservation Management Zones that are currently closed are as identified below, inside straight lines connecting the following points, or as identified:

Lobster Fishing Area 4A:
Mouse Island – Notre Dame Bay that portion of Lobster Fishing Area 4A inside straight lines by joining the following coordinates in the order they are listed:

49° 29’25”N   55° 29’19”W
49° 29’02”N   55° 29’19”W
49° 29’02”N   55° 29’50”W
49° 29’15”N   55° 29’50”W
49° 29’25”N   55° 29’34”W

Glover’s Harbour – Notre Dame Bay that portion of Lobster Fishing Area 4A inside straight lines by joining the following coordinates in the order they are listed below:

49°28’01”N   55°28’36.5”W
49°28’01”N   55°28’46.5”W

Lobster Fishing Area 4B:

Farmer’s Island, to water depths of 10 fathoms, at:

Quoir                   49° 28.58’ N   54° 49.17’ W
Shroud’s Brook   49° 28.27’ N   54° 48.38’ W

Gander Bay, that portion of Lobster Fishing Area 4B inside a line drawn at the following coordinates in the order they are listed:

Troake’s Point           49° 27.65'N   54° 27.92’W
Beaver Cove Point    49° 24.76’N   54° 23.55’W

Lobster Fishing Area 5:
Round Island, Newman Sound, Bonavista Bay, is part of the Eastport Marine Protected Area within 650 feet of the shore of Round Island.

Duck Islands, Newman Sound, Bonavista Bay, is part of the Eastport Marine Protected Area

Lobster Fishing Area 6:
Gooseberry Islands - that portion of Lobster Fishing Area 6 within 0.25 nautical miles off the shoreline of Gooseberry Islands, located at:

48°05.48'N   53°44.41'W

Lobster Fishing Area 11:
Penguin Islands - that portion of Lobster Fishing Area 11 bounded by lines connecting the following points: 

47°22'018’N   57°01’010'W
47°23'486’N   57°01’010'W
47°23'532'N   56°56’545'W
47°22'018'N   56°56’545'W

Lobster Fishing Area 13B:
Shoal Point - that portion of Lobster Fishing Area 13, inside a line near an area known as Shoal Point, Outer Bay of Islands defined by joining the following coordinates in the order they are listed:

49°19'25'N   58°14'23'W
49°19'35'N   58°14'45'W
49°20'10'N   58°14'25'W
49°20'00'N   58°14'W
49°19'25'N   58°14'23'W

Lobster Fishing Area 14A Trout River:
That portion of Lobster Fishing Area 14 near an area known as Trout River Bay defined by straight lines drawn from shore at East Point position 49°29'30'N, 58°07'12'W hence to West Point position 49°28'56'N, 58°07'24'W.

8. Oceans initiatives promoting shared stewardship

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

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

8.1 Integrated management bodies

In 2005, the Eastport Marine Protected Area (MPA) was designated as an MPA under the Oceans Act. It is located in Bonavista Bay in NAFO Subdivision 3L and covers 2.1 kms2.

The conservation objective of the Eastport MPA is to maintain a viable population of American lobster through the conservation, protection, and sustainable use of resources and habitats; and to ensure the conservation and protection of threatened or endangered species.

The Eastport Management Plan (2013-2018) outlines conservation objectives and management actions for the MPA with respect to scientific research and monitoring, compliance and enforcement, as well as public awareness. The plan is implemented and adapted every five years in consultation with the Eastport MPA advisory committee, which consists of:

8.2 Working arrangements - Existing agreements

The DFO-WWF Canada Collaborative Agreement brings together both parties to work toward a common goal: the conservation, protection, and sustainable development of Canada’s oceans as mandated by the Oceans Act. While this Agreement does not specifically mention Lobster, it is agreed that DFO and WWF Canada will work jointly to promote long-term and sustainable use of the oceans resources.

9. Compliance Plan

9.1 Conservation and protection program description

The deployment of Conservation and Protection (C&P) resources in the lobster fishery is conducted in conjunction with management plan objectives and established operational work plans, as well as in response to emerging issues. The mix of enforcement options available and overriding conservation objectives determine the level and type of enforcement activity. Work plans at the regional, area and detachment level 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 performance

The Conservation and Protection (C&P) program promotes and maintains compliance with legislation, regulations, policies and management measures. This 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 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.

In recent years, fishery officers have conducted educational sessions for fish harvesters on a specific conservation measure known as V-notching, which includes the identification, marking and release of egg-bearing female lobsters. These education sessions are offered on an as-need basis in cases where retention of V-notch lobsters has become an issue.

Prior to lobster season, C&P conducts educational interactive sessions throughout the region with fish harvesters to review licence conditions, regulations, issues and to answer their questions about the upcoming season.

Pillar 2: Monitoring, control and surveillance

In 2017, C&P’s effort in Monitoring, Control and Surveillance (MCS) activities included approximately 6,112 hours of effort resulting in identifying 77 violations in the lobster fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador region. See Appendix 7.

Pillar 3: Major case

Compliance issues in this fishery include:

9.3 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 lobster fishery areas. This 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 is to collect information for ensuring compliance and conducting investigations.

Since the introduction of mandatory logbooks in the lobster fishery, C&P officers have been actively monitoring their submission at the end of the season to ensure a positive uptake with the program, and in cases where logbooks have not been received, taking follow-up action as needed. DFO is exploring options to withhold the release of lobster licences and license conditions until logbooks have been received from the previous fishing season.

9.4 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.

10. Performance review

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

Evaluation criteria to measure the effectiveness of the management regime include:

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) measures the performance of the fisheries that it manages through the Sustainability Survey for Fisheries (SFF). The SFF 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 terms

Appendix 1: Lobster licenses

Table 1 - Lobster licenses by LFA for the following years: 2000, 2007 and 2017.
LFA 2000 2007 2017
3 63 57 58
4A 254 229 174
4B 473 423 340
5 266 248 230
6 216 204 199
7 166 152 138
8 80 78 76
9 33 36 31
10 358 341 293
11 325 320 262
12 51 44 38
13A 155 148 109
13B 185 172 127
14A 229 203 154
14BC 256 240 171
TOTAL 3110 2895 2400

Appendix 2: 2017 Lobster season dates, fishing days, and maximum number of traps

LFA 2017 SEASON DATES1 # Fishing Days2 Maximum # Traps3
3 May 20 - July 29 63 200
4A June 20 - July 29 56 200
4B May 13 - July 22 56 200
5 May 8 - July 26 65 150
6 April 27 - July 20 72 100
7 May 2 - July 18 65 150
8 May 9 - July 12 64 100
9A May 2 - June 28 57 200
9B May 22 - July 8 56 100
10 May 1 - July 10 61 200
11E April 15 - June 17 63 185
11W April 29 - July 1 63 185
12 April 18 - June 27 69 135
13A April 18 - June 29 71 180
13B April 22 - July 4 72 220
14A May 6 - July 3 57 250
14B May 9 - July 10 57 250
14C May 18 - July 29 57 300

¹Opening dates are negotiated based on consultations with industry. In-season changes to opening dates are considered in the event of inclement weather and/or extreme ice conditions.
²The number of fishing days is fixed for each fishing area.
³The majority of fish harvesters in each LFA are authorized to fish the maximum number of traps defined above. Some licence holders may not be authorized to fish the maximum number of traps due to an effort reduction program introduced in the 1990's.

Appendix 3 : Regulatory measures respecting lobster

A.3.1 Atlantic fishery regulations

In accordance with the Atlantic Fishery Regulations 1985, the following regulations apply to the lobster fishery. Some of the regulations have been re-phrased for simplicity. 

57. (1) No person shall during the close time,

(a) fish for lobster;

(b) possess any lobster unless the lobster is being transported under the authority of a fish transporting licence issued under these regulations; or

(c) subject to section 58, have a lobster trap on board a vessel.

(2) No person shall possess, in a Lobster Fishing Area 3, a lobster of 82.5 mm length.

(3) No person shall possess any claw, tail or meat that has been separated from the thorax or carapace of a lobster.

58. (1) A fishery officer may in writing authorize a person to transport lobster traps during close time in a Lobster Fishing Area for the purpose of the sale, repair or storage of those traps.

(2) A person shall not transport lobster traps pursuant to an authorization referred to in subsection (1) except from and to such locations, in such quantities and on such dates as are set out in that authorization.

59. (2) In the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, no person shall buy, sell, or have in his possession any lobster that is less than 82.5 mm in length.

(3) No person shall buy, sell or have in their possession any female lobster with eggs attached.

(4) No person shall buy or have in his possession

(a) any female lobster from which eggs have been washed or removed in whole or in part; or

(b) any female lobster that has egg cement or glue on its swimmerets.

61. (1) No person shall fish for lobster except from a vessel and with a lobster trap.

(2) Subject to subsection (3), where a person is fishing for lobster, he shall not have any mobile gear on board his vessel.

(4) No person shall fish with or have on board a vessel a lobster trap that exceeds

(a) 125 cm in its greatest length;

(b) 90 cm in its greatest width; or

(c) 50 cm in its greatest height.

61.1 In Lobster Fishing Area 1 to 22 and 27 to 41, no person shall fish with, or have on board a vessel, a lobster trap unless the trap

(a) has in one exterior wall of each parlour an escape panel that provides, when removed, an unobstructed opening not less than 89 mm in height and 152 mm in width and that is fastened to the Lobster trap with

(i) untreated cotton or sisal twine that does not exceed 4.8 mm in diameter, or

(ii) uncoated ferrous metal wire, other than of stainless steel, that does not exceed 1.6 mm in diameter; or

(b) is a wooden lobster trap that has in one exterior wall of each parlour two softwood laths that are adjacent to each other and that are not treated with wood preservative.

62. (1) Subject to subsection (3), no person shall fish with or have on board a vessel a lobster trap unless a valid tag issued by the Minister is securely attached to the frame of the trap in the manner which the tag was designed and in such manner that the tap is readily visible when the trap is not in the water.

(2) For purposes of subsection (1), a tag is valid only for the period specified in the licence authorizing the use of a vessel in fishing for lobster and is valid only if it bears a tag number set out in that licence.

(3) Subsection (1) does not apply in Lobster Fishing Areas 1 to 11.1

(4) No person shall fish with a lobster trap that has attached to it a tag where the tag has been tampered with or where the tag number is illegible.

(5) No person shall have on board a vessel a lobster trap that has attached to it a tag referred to in subsection (1) where the tag has been tampered with or where the tag number is illegible.

NOTE: 1Although regulation 62(3) is in effect, there is a condition of licence requiring lobster traps to be tagged in LFAs 3-11.

A3.2 Fisheries act

In accordance with the Fisheries Act, the following regulations apply to the lobster fishery:

18.(1) No one shall maintain a pound or enclosure in which lobsters, legally caught during the open season, are retained for sale during the close season at a place where the pound or enclosure is located, or for export therefrom, except under a licence from the Minister, and no lobsters shall be taken from any such pound or enclosure and disposed of during the close season at the place where it is located, except under a certificate from a fishery officer or fishery guardian, setting out the pound or enclosure from which the lobsters were taken and that they had been legally caught during the open season.

(2) Each pound or enclosure referred to in subsection (1) shall be marked with the name of the licensee and the number of his licence, and the markings shall be in black on a white ground, with letters and figures that are at least six inches in height.

(3) The annual fee for a licence referred to in subsection (1) shall be seventy-five dollars.

Appendix 4 : Departmental contacts

Contact Telephone Fax E-mail
DFO Regional Headquarters, St. John's, NL
General Information (709) 772-4423 (709) 772-4880

P.O. Box 5667
St. John’s, NL, A1C 5X1

Ellen Careen
A/Resource Manager,
(709) 772-4911 (709) 772-3628
Elizabeth Coughlan
Biologist, Science
(709) 772-2077 (709) 772-4105
Kim Penney
Resource Manager,
Aboriginal Programs
(709) 772-5020 (709) 772-3628
Paul Glavine
Policy Analyst,
Policy & Economics
(709) 772-4568 (709) 772-4583
Laura Park
Ecosystems Management
(709) 772-8827 (709) 772-7894
DFO Area Offices – Resource Management
David Small
Area Chief
Eastern and Southern
(709) 292-5167 (709) 292-5205
Laurie Hawkins
Area Chief
Southern, Western & Straits
(709) 637-4310 (709) 832-3015
Wayne King
Senior Area Representative
(709) 896-6157 (709) 896-8419
DFO Area Offices - Conservation and Protection
Chad Ward
Area Chief,
Eastern and Southern
(709) 772-5858 (709) 772-8468
Brent Watkins
Area Chief,
(709) 637-4334 (709) 458-3096

Appendix 5: Map of Lobster fishing area, NL region

map pf lobster fishing area, NL region

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: vessel stability, emergency drills, and cold water immersion.

Fishing vessel stability

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

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

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

Emergency drill requirements

The vessel master must establish procedures and assign responsibilities to each crew member for emergencies such as crew member overboard, fire, flooding, abandoning ship and calling for help.

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

Cold water immersion

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

The effects of cold water on the body occur in four stages: cold shock, swimming failure, hypothermia and post-rescue collapse. Vessel masters should know what to do to prevent themselves or their crew from falling into the water and what to do if that occurs. 

Other issues


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.

Collision regulations

Fish harvesters should have a thorough knowledge of the Collision Regulationsand 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 Lobster (LFAs 3-14C)

Figure 8: Violations from 2012 to 2016 for the Newfoundland lobster fishery.


Figure 8. Violations from 2012 to 2016 for the Newfoundland lobster fishery.

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Charges laid 25 26 25 26 37
Seizure(s) - persons unknown 10 4 9 9 6
Warning issued 35 22 41 46 46

Figure 9: Number of hours for fishery officers involved in the three Key Pillars approach: Education and Shared Stewardship, Monitoring, Control and Surveillance, and Major Case.


Figure 9. Number of hours for fishery officers involved in the three Key Pillars approach: Education and Shared Stewardship, Monitoring, control and Surveillance, and Major Case.

  2012 2013 2014 2015 2016
Patrol hours 2475.5 2416.75 2616 3480.5 3458
Non-parol enforcement hours 1201 1191.25 1607.5 2131 1947
Program others 390 251 306.5 269.5 450.5
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