Inshore Lobster

American Lobster
American Lobster
(Homarus americanus))

Integrated Fishery Management Plan
Lobster Fishing Areas 27 - 38
Scotia-Fundy Sector - Maritimes Region - 2011

FOREWORD

This document constitutes the Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP), developed in conjunction with lobster harvesters, and covering the Maritimes Region inshore lobster fleets within Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs) 27-38. It is based on an ecosystem approach, employs co-management, and continues the shared stewardship process used in this fishery to ensure sustainability of the fishery.

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

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.

Signed: Regional Director, Fisheries Management, Maritimes Region

Table of Contents

FOREWORD

1. OVERVIEW OF THE FISHERY
2. STOCK ASSESSMENT AND STATUS
3. SOCIAL, CULTURAL, AND ECONOMIC IMPORTANCE OF THE INSHORE LOBSTER FISHERY
4. MANAGEMENT ISSUES
5. OBJECTIVES
6. STRATEGIES
7. TACTICAL MANAGEMENT MEASURES
8. ACCESS AND ALLOCATION
9. SHARED STEWARDSHIP ARRANGEMENTS
10. COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT PLAN
11. PERFORMANCE REVIEW
12. MONITORING
13. PLAN ENHANCEMENT
Glossary of Terms
Appendices
List of figures
LIST OF TABLES

1. OVERVIEW OF THE FISHERY

1.1 History

Inshore lobster is one of the oldest managed fisheries in Canada. The harvesting of inshore lobster can be traced back to pre-colonial times when it was an important food source for Aboriginal peoples who harvested lobster (jakej) through the spring and fall using traps and spears.

By the mid-eighteenth century, various trapping methods had been developed to catch lobsters, culminating in the evolution to the parlour trap in the early 1900’s that still forms the basis for the types of traps in use today.

In 1884 the first lobster cannery was established. This helped shift the sale of locally harvested lobster away from a strictly domestic market to a more international market, predominantly Great Britain. The sale of live lobsters has expanded significantly and this product form has been the mainstay of the industry since the Second World War.

Since the late 1800’s numerous regulations have been applied to the lobster fishery. Most regulations initially were based on market requirements and considerations, and not on biological concerns. In 1873 the first regulatory measures were introduced to establish restrictions on soft shell lobsters and egg bearing females. Fishing seasons were introduced in the Bay of Fundy area as early as 1879, with additional size restrictions coming into play in 1899. However, throughout the late 1800’s and up until the mid-1900’s enforcement of these initial regulations was very sporadic and inconsistent. Figure 1 outlines the historical trend in landings and shows where some of the regulations were introduced.

Following almost a century of varied and inconsistent management and regulatory approaches, the present day fishery is the result of a number of initiatives first introduced in the late 1960’s. In 1967 Fisheries and Oceans Canada introduced a limited entry licensing policy for portions of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick and expanded this application of the policy to the remainder of the Maritimes in 1968. Prior to that, no restrictions were in place for acquisition of a lobster licence. Along with limiting the number of licences, the department introduced trap limits, and defined boundaries for most of the modern day Lobster Fishing Areas.

In 1976, the so called “moonlighter” policy was introduced with the aim of removing from the fishery those not dependent on it for their primary source of income. Three categories of licences were created:

Category B licences were eligible to fish one third of the trap limit for a Category A licence. Under The Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996 Category B licences have never been transferable and expire upon the death of the licence holder.

Figure 1 – Historical Landings and Introduction of Regulations
Graph of Historical Landings and Introduction of Regulations

In 1978 to 1981, a lobster licence buy-back program was implemented to reduce the number of participants, and in particular those who were not dependent on the fishery. Approximately 1500 licences were retired, Nova Scotia (1406) and Southwest New Brunswick (170).

In the mid to late 1980’s, regulations were strengthened to include requirements for escape vents and biodegradable (ghost fishing) panels to be installed in lobster traps. In 1995, following a decline in landings from the 1991 peak, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada requested that the Fisheries Resource Conservation Council (FRCC) review the state of the lobster fishery in Atlantic Canada. Their report, A Conservation Framework for Atlantic Lobster, concluded that the elements key to achieving a healthy fishery are: good egg production, a reasonable mortality, and a biomass composed of several year classes. In 1997, after two years of consultation, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans identified as a target the doubling of eggs per recruit as a means of conserving and sustaining lobster stocks. A four-year period, from 1998 to 2001, was the timeframe fishermen had to put in place measures that would achieve the doubling target at some future point.

At the direction of the Assistant Deputy Ministers of Science, and Fisheries Management, a small DFO working group was formed to examine the results of the four-year plans to double eggs per recruit (1998- 2001). The Report of the Lobster Conservation Working group (2001) indicated that the management changes in Maritimes Region LFAs were relatively minor, and that by-and-large they failed to meet the specific target of doubling eggs per recruit. There were two notable exceptions to this, LFA 27 which had implemented significant minimum size increases, and LFA 30 which was already at or above the target level set by the FRCC of 5% egg production expected in an un-fished population. Changes that did occur included minor increases in minimum legal carapace size, a maximum size on females in LFA 30, a window size restriction in LFA 31A, and adoption of a voluntary v-notching program by harvesters in all LFAs except LFA 31A and LFA 27.

In July 2007, the FRCC published their second report,  Sustainability Framework for Atlantic Lobster, in which they identified low eggs per recruit, poor stock structure, high exploitation rates, and poor compliance as the four key risks to the long-term sustainability of the Atlantic inshore lobster fishery. In response to the FRCC recommendations, Maritimes Region identified three priorities

  1. improve the accuracy of information and data collected and specifically improve the reporting of landings (logs);
  2. implement measures in each LFA to provide more protection for mature female lobsters (broodstock), and begin to identify issues associated with expanding effort and exploitation levels, and
  3. improve the overall governance and stewardship of the resource through the consultation process.

As a result of these recommendations the requirement to submit lobster monitoring documents has been added to the licence conditions. Progress has been slow in adjusting the latter two concerns.

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

1.2 Type of Fishery

The inshore lobster fishery in the Maritimes Region is compromised of commercial, and food, social and ceremonial (FSC) components. There is currently no authorized recreational harvesting of lobster in this region. Any development of a recreational fishery would require additional policy research and would occur under provisions of the Atlantic Marine Recreational Fisheries Policy. Maritimes Region has authorized several pilot programs that provide for licences for a small number of traps used for educational purposes only. These licences are associated with tourism industry operations and do not authorize retention of any lobsters that are caught. Expansion of non-lethal use of the resource is considered to be a viable alternative for increasing the value derived from this resource without contributing to fishing mortality. Policies governing activities such as these are currently being considered.

Aboriginal communal food, social and ceremonial fishing is a cultural and sustenance activity and DFO negotiates agreements for Aboriginal fishing for FSC purposes. Through these agreements, licences are issued outlining the locations, methods, gear types, timeframes and other conditions for the FSC fishery. The resources fished using an FSC licence are used communally to provide food for its members, and support the traditional social and ceremonial activities of the First Nations community or Aboriginal groups.

1.3 Participants

Almost all Maritime region coastal communities are now involved in the inshore lobster fishery. With few exceptions all of the approximately 3000 licences (Table 1) are active during the lobster season employing approximately 7,200 fishermen.

In 1992, DFO launched the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) in response to the Sparrow decision of the Supreme Court. The AFS provides access and allocation of lobster resources to Aboriginal people for their food, social and ceremonial purposes. Starting in 1999, in response to the Marshall Response Initiative, aboriginal access to the commercial fishery has been increased.

In April 2007 the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans announced several policy initiatives including a requirement for all non-exempted fleets to declare their status as Independent Core (IC). Six fleets are exempted from the owner/operator and fleet separation provisions outlined in The Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for Eastern Canada, 1996. All remaining fleets, including the inshore lobster fleet, are subject to the owner/operator and fleet separation policies.

Under the new declaration policy, a licence holder who is party to a financial arrangement with a third party must have the arrangement reviewed by DFO. If the arrangement is deemed to constitute a Controlling Agreement (CA), the licence is not assigned an IC status and is subject to several restrictions under the policy. Any such agreements have seven years (from 2007) to divest themselves of the CA.

In the fall 2008, additional flexibility was provided to the Maritimes Region lobster fleets following analysis of principles identified in the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review (AFPR), the Oceans to Plate initiative and Fisheries Renewal process. Flexibility is designed to promote overall economic viability of commercial fishing enterprises and a number of options are available.

Table 1 - Number of Lobster Licences by LFA and Category, Dec 31, 2009:
LFA Licence Category
AFootnote 1 B PFootnote 2 CCFootnote 3 CC-PFootnote 4 Total
27 464 19 26 11 4 524
28 8 1   7   16
29 52 9   6   67
30 20         20
31A 67Footnote 5 4 2     73
31B 70 1       71
32 143 8 4 6   161
33 532 50 111 12 2 707
34 941   14 30   985
35 75 3 2 15   95
36 144 1 18 8 6 177
38 81 1 38 8 8 136
Total 2597 97 215 103 20 3032
Source: DFO Licensing Summary Report as of Dec 31, 2009 (LS4041A)

Since 1968 licencing policy has included provisions for two harvesters to form a partnership. Under a regular partnership two licence holders fish using one vessel that is licensed for 150% of the trap limit for a single licence. Both operators must be on board. Two Independent Core licence holders may also form a flexible partnership. In this scenario one vessel is licensed for 150% of the trap limit of a single licence. One or both operators can be on board or they can alternate. Neither the regular partnership nor the flexible partnership requires a licence transfer.

In addition, an Independent Core licence holder can acquire, by transfer, a second licence that is stacked with the existing licence in the enterprise. The new licence can fish 150% of the trap limit of a single licence, and the licence holder must be the operator. These licences can later be uncoupled and reissued to another eligible person, subject to all applicable licensing policy provisions.

1.4 Location of the Fishery

The Maritime Region extends north from the Canada - USA maritime boundary (the “Hague” line) which separates Canadian and US waters in the Gulf of Maine. The region includes the entire Bay of Fundy and all Nova Scotian waters along the Atlantic coast to the tip of Cape Breton. All fishing occurs inside of 50 miles from shore and in eastern Nova Scotia most activity is within 15 kilometres of shore.

1.5 Fishery Characteristics

The Maritimes Region inshore lobster fishery is comprised of twelve (12) individual LFAs (27-38; Figure 2), stretching from the northern tip of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, along the Atlantic coastal waters into the Bay of Fundy to the border with the United States. General management characteristics of the inshore fishery are identified in Table 2.

Figure 2 – Lobster Fishing Areas – Maritimes Region
Map of Lobster Fishing Areas – Maritimes Region

The fishery is prosecuted almost entirely by vessels less than 13.7m (45’) Length Overall (LOA). However, in LFAs 33 and 34 there is a regulated maximum vessel length of 13.7m with an authorized maximum stern extension of 1.5m (5’). All other Maritimes Region LFAs can use vessels up to 19.8m (65’) LOA.

Fishing occurs to 90 kilometres (50 miles) from shore in southwest Nova Scotia and in the approaches to the Bay of Fundy. In most of the remaining areas fishing is conducted within 10 to 15 kilometres of the shore. Season lengths generally range from 8 weeks to approximately 6 months.

Table 2 – Current Tactical Management Measures
LFA Season Trap LimitFootnote 1 Legal Size (mm) Other Measures
27 May 15 - July 15 275 81  
28 April 30 - June 30 250 84 Max. entrance hoop 153mm
29 April 30 - June 30 250 84 Max. entrance hoop 153mm
30 May 20 - July 20 250 82.5 Max. CL-135mm (female)
31A April 29 - June 30 250 82.5 Closed window (female),
114-124 mm
31B April 19 - June 20 250 82.5 V-notchingFootnote 2
32 April 19 - June 20 250 82.5 V-notchingFootnote 2
33 Last Mon. Nov - May 31 250 82.5  
34 Last Mon. Nov - May 31 375/400 82.5  
35 Oct 15 - Dec 31;
March 1-July 31
300 82.5  
36 2nd Tues Nov - Jan 14; March 31-June 30 300 82.5  
37 Shared between LFA 36 and 38      
38 2nd Tues Nov – Jun 30 375 82.5  
38B June 30 - Nov 6 375 82.5  

1.6 Governance

In addition to Conservation Harvesting Plans specific to Lobster Fishing Areas and the IFMP, the fishery is governed by a suite of legislation, policy and regulations including but not limited to those noted below.

General licensing and registration regulatory requirements are found in the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985 (AFR), Part II. Regulations specific to the lobster fishery are further outlined in Part VI of the AFRs. The Fishery General Regulations (FGR) provide the basis for lobster licence conditions, and the authority to issue Variation Orders to set minimum legal carapace sizes and amend season dates from time to time. Changes to season dates are usually due to inclement weather or ice conditions that could potentially affect the safe opening of a number of an LFA. The FGRs provide the basis for control over incidental catches in the lobster fishery.

Since the mid-1980’s, advisory committees have acted as the primary vehicles through which industry provides advice to government on management measures affecting the fishery. In most LFAs, a representative and an alternate are elected or appointed by licence holders in their port cluster or geographic area.

In 2007, the Maritimes Region Lobster Advisory Committee was reinstated. This larger body has representation from each LFA and deals with issues that affect all LFAs or groups of LFAs (Bay of Fundy for example). The committee meets as required or at least once annually and produces formal minutes.

The roles and responsibilities and contact information for the various branches of DFO involved with the fishery are identified in Appendix 1. Currently there is no single representative body for the lobster industry in Atlantic Canada.

1.7 Approval Process

Conservation Harvesting Plans (CHP) are developed for each LFA. The CHP is comprised of regulatory requirements for the fishery (size limits, trap tagging requirements, prohibition on berried females etc.) and Licence Conditions (Appendix 2) that are reviewed and updated annually.

Many decisions affecting the day to day operation of the fishery are approved by the Area Director (season opening date/time, approval to move/store gear during closed times, enforcement priorities etc.). In some cases, such as with broad policy decisions that could affect multiple LFAs, decisions may be subject to the approval of other Senior Management levels.

2. Stock Assessment and Status

2.1 Biological Synopsis

2.1.1 Distribution

The North American lobster (Homarus americanus) is widely distributed in coastal waters from southern Labrador to Maryland, with the major fisheries concentrated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Gulf of Maine (Figure 3). Lobsters are also found in deeper waters (down to 750m) in the Gulf of Maine and along the outer edge of the continental shelf from Sable Island to off North Carolina. This deep water distribution is due to the presence of the warm slope water that keeps the slope and deep basins in the Gulf of Maine warm year-round. This warm deep water is not found on the eastern Scotian Shelf, in the Gulf of St Lawrence or off Newfoundland.

Lobsters are a temperate species that require sufficiently warm summer temperatures to grow, produce and hatch their eggs. Juvenile and adult lobsters can exist in waters from less than 0oC to approximately 25oC. Larval lobsters occur in surface waters between 6oC and 25oC, though a minimum temperature of approximately 10-12oC appears to be required for successful development to the settlement phase (stage IV). Larval development is temperature dependent and takes just 10 days at 22-24oC but over 2 months at 10oC.

At the northern limit of their range (Northern Newfoundland) summer temperatures remain too cold for ovary and egg development while at the southern limit of their range (Maryland coastal and off Cape Hatteras along the slope edge) winter temperatures remain too warm and the moulting and reproductive cycles are not synchronized.

Figure 3 – Eastern North American Lobster Distribution
Map of Eastern North American Lobster Distribution

Juvenile and adult lobsters can tolerate a wide range of salinities from 15 to 32 ppt (parts per thousand) but can be affected by low salinities associated with spring melts or heavy runoffs in shallow estuaries. Larval lobsters are sensitive to salinities below 20 ppt, and alter their depth by actively swimming to avoid low-salinity surface waters. Moulting lobsters are less resistant to low salinities than are hard-shelled lobsters due to the osmotic permeability of their skeletons.

Lobsters are found on many different bottom types from mud and sand to cobble and boulders. Young lobsters require shelter to avoid predators so are more restricted in their habitat than larger lobsters. Newly settled and juvenile lobsters are most common in complex habitats such as cobble or gravel bottoms, or eel grass. They are also capable of burrowing, they can also  be found in areas with compact clays or peat reefs which can be burrowed into. As they grow and become less susceptible to predators they are found in more varied bottoms including open mud and sand bottoms.

2.1.2 Migrations and Depth Preferences

Adult lobsters make seasonal migrations to shallower waters in summer and deeper waters in winter. Mature lobsters tend to move significantly greater distances than immature animals. Over most of their range, these movements vary from a few kilometres to 20 km. However, in the Gulf of Maine, and on the outer continental shelf lobsters undertake long distance migrations of tens to hundreds of kilometres. Tagging studies have shown that at least some of these lobsters return to the same area each year. (Campbell 1986; Pezzack and Duggan 1986)

Migrations may be undertaken to optimize the temperature to which lobsters and their eggs are exposed, to avoid shallow water during stormier winter periods, and to migrate to areas optimal for hatching eggs and either retention or export of larvae. The triggers for these migrations are not well understood.

Quantitative estimates of exchange rates between areas cannot be given at this time. The mark-recapture approach used in historical studies does not permit discrimination between residences and return migrations after lengthy periods at large, except where intervening recaptures of the same individual lobster are involved. The origin of the animals that are tagged in any one location is unknown. Determining the proportion of animals in the population that make long distance movements is confounded by regional differences in the reporting rate of recaptures and the fact that where local fisheries are intense, there is a low probability that legal-sized animals survive to move long distances. The closed season in inshore fisheries also poses a problem in that summer movements would not have been detected in these earlier studies.

2.1.3 Biology

Lobsters in the Maritime Region generally take 8-10 years to reach the legal size of 82.5 mm Carapace Length (CL). At that size they weigh approximately 0.45kg (one pound) and moult once a year. Larger lobsters moult less often, with a 1.4kg (three pound) lobster moulting every two to three years. The largest recorded lobster was 20kg (44lb). The maximum age of lobsters is unknown but based on growth information and long term holding studies it is believed to be in the range of 50 years.

The usual reproductive pattern is for the mature female to mate in late summer while in a soft shell condition immediately after moulting (Figure 4). The male transfers a spermatophore into the seminal receptacle at the base of the female’s tail. Over the next year the eggs develop in the female’s ovaries and during the following summer the eggs are extruded and fertilized, then attach to the underside of the tail. The eggs are then carried for 10-12 months and hatch the following July or August. The larvae spend approximately 4-6 weeks chiefly in the surface waters, although they undergo a daily vertical migration. Halfway through Stage IV they leave the surface waters, and after some trial-and-error settle preferentially on rough gravel or cobble bottoms, though they can also settle in eel grass and in areas with hard clay or mud sediment that is conducive to burrowing. Stage I to IV lobsters feed on a variety of plankton species but predominantly on cladocerans, copepods, and crab larvae (Harding 1992).

Figure 4 – Lobster Life Cycle
Diagram of the lobster life cycle

The young lobsters are vulnerable to many predators so for the first few years on the bottom they remain in or near their shelter, then spending more and more time outside the shelter as they grow larger (Lavalli and Lawton 1996).

Little is known about the larval distribution along the South and Eastern Shores of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton as detailed circulation models are lacking. In these areas lobsters are more restricted to the coastal bays and it is thought that while larval exchange occurs along the coast much of the larvae are likely retained in the local areas.

Models of ocean currents for the Gulf of Maine can be used to infer larval lobster distribution (Drinkwater, Hannah et al. 2001). These models indicate strong retention of larvae on Georges Bank. Browns Bank shows weaker retention, with potential exchange of larvae from Browns to German Bank or to the Bay of Fundy. The models show little potential for exchange from Browns to the nearshore areas of Southwestern Nova Scotia or the South shore inside the 50m isobath (Drinkwater, Hannah et al. 2001). The models suggest that near shore settlement is from larvae hatched in nearshore areas. There is little exchange of larvae from Browns Bank to coastal Maine but that there is potential for larvae from Maine to settle in the Browns Bank region (Xue, Incze et al. 2008).

Lobster stock structure is not fully understood, but a recent paper (Kenchington, Harding et al. 2009) looking at the entire species range observed a North/South separation with a relatively homogeneous population to the north (centered in the Gulf of St. Lawrence) and more heterogeneous populations in the south (centered in the Gulf of Maine and the Mid-Atlantic Bight region). At smaller geographical scales, the analyses identified areas of low gene flow between some areas, which are likely to be shaped by ocean currents and lobster migration patterns. These areas of restricted gene flow were particularly common in the Gulf of Maine and areas south of it.

2.1.4 Reproductive Potential

Female lobsters reach maturity at different sizes and ages over their geographic range, and this is thought to be controlled principally by local water temperatures (Aiken and Waddy 1986; Waddy and Aiken 1991; Comeau and Savoie 2002), maturing at smaller sizes in regions with warm summer temperatures (Gulf of St. Lawrence, Southern New England) and at larger sizes in regions with cooler summer temperatures (Bay of Fundy).

The maturity measure used by scientists is the size at 50% maturity, which is the size at which half of the animals are capable of reproducing. In females this is determined through dissection or examination of the cement glands on the pleopods (swimmerets). Male maturity is not usually estimated due to the fact it requires dissection and because past work indicates that it occurs at a similar or slightly smaller size than the females under the same conditions. For successful mating the male needs to be similar in size or larger than the females. If males are too much larger, then mating success is reduced. Males can mate with numerous females but in other lobster species it has been shown that there are consequences of having too few males as mating success and clutch size is reduced.

Maturity estimates are presently being redone but the best estimates available at this time are given in the Figure 5 below (the vertical bars represent what science considers the likely potential range).

At maturity, female lobsters will usually produce eggs every second year. Based on laboratory studies using ambient inshore Bay of Fundy water temperatures, larger female lobsters appear able to spawn twice without an intervening moult (consecutive spawning) at sizes greater than 120mm CL (Waddy and Aiken 1986) though this size may vary under actual conditions (Campbell 1983; Comeau and Savoie 2001; Comeau and Savoie 2002). Consecutive spawning occurs in two forms: successive-year (spawning in two successive summers, a moult in the first and fourth years) and alternate-year (spawning in alternate summers). In both types, females often are able to fertilize the two successive broods with the sperm from a single insemination (multiple fertilizations). Intermoult (hard-shell) mating has also been observed in laboratory conditions (Waddy and Aiken 1990).

Figure 5 – Lobster Size at 50% Maturity by LFA

The figure shows the best estimates of the range in size at 50% maturity. Values for LFA 27-30 are based on recent research results while values for LFA 31a-38 are based on older estimates from the 1980’s. There is presently research being done in LFA 31a and plans for research to begin in 2010 in LFA 32-34.

Best estimates of lobster size at 50% Maturity by LFA

Consecutive spawning and multiple fertilizations enable large lobsters to spawn more frequently over the long term than their smaller counterparts. This combined with the logarithmic relationship between body size and numbers of eggs produced, means that large lobsters have a much greater relative fecundity. The advantages of a population that includes a good mix of sizes including very large sizes is well documented (DFO 2009). For lobsters the advantages include higher egg production, and different hatching areas and times. This should result in less susceptibility to short term fluctuations in recruitment levels.

2.1.5 Natural Mortality

Natural mortality (M) has been estimated for some nearshore lobster populations and is generally assumed to be between 10-15% for all fully recruited legal sized animals (Fogarty and Idoine 1988) and in most models it is assumed to be the same over time and for all size groups. However in reality this could vary greatly depending upon habitat, predator abundance, time of the year and lobster size.

A constant M is usually chosen using a life history criterion such as longevity, growth rate, and age at maturity. American lobsters have a relatively long life span and slow reproduction and are thus classified by biologists as “k-selected” with low natural mortality after the larval stage. The uncertainty of the natural mortality is in part due to the lack of an accurate ageing method.

2.2 Ecosystem Interactions

2.2.1 Predation on Lobsters

During the larval stage lobsters are eaten by many plankton feeding fish and invertebrates. During the settling stages as the lobster moves from the plankton to the bottom to find shelter they are preyed upon by many small fish such as cunner and sculpins, and by invertebrates such as small crabs. During their first three to four years, lobsters remain in or near their chosen shelter to avoid predation from visual predators including many fish species such as sculpin, cunners and skate, and by crabs and other opportunistic feeders (Lavalli and Lawton 1996). There is evidence that natural mortality varies inversely with body size with larger lobsters safer from all but the largest predators; however all lobsters are most vulnerable immediately following the moult when their shell is still soft. Animals that have been identified as predators on lobsters in some areas include sculpins, skates, cod, spiny dogfish, sea ravens, wolfish, Cancer crabs, and striped bass. Mortality levels on the inshore lobster stocks have not been quantified. Anecdotal information indicates that seals are a predator on lobster however there is no scientific data on the prevalence or level at which it may occur.

2.2.2 Food Sources for Lobsters

Lobsters are both active and opportunistic feeders. Lobsters are active predators of crabs, clams, mussels, scallop, various gastropods, fish, marine worms, sea urchins, starfish, and small amounts of marine plants. They will also feed on an opportunistic basis on dead fish and other organisms (Carter and Steele 1982; Elner and Campbell 1987; Gendron, Fradette et al. 2001).

2.2.3 Species interactions and interactions with other fisheries

2.2.3.1 Other Crustaceans

Lobsters co-occur with other crustaceans of commercial value, most notably Jonah crab (Cancer borealis), rock crab (Cancer irroratus) and deep-sea red crab (Chaceon quinquedens). While Jonah and rock crab co-occur in shallower waters and are caught either as a directed fishery or as a bycatch of lobster fisheries, red crab generally exist in greater water depths than commercial lobster distributions and rarely make up a significant portion of bycatch.

Rock and Jonah crab (specified LFAs) can be retained for bait and must be recorded in the lobster log, though the level of recording appears to be low in some areas. Rock and Jonah crabs retained for sales must be recorded in a separate crab log.

The commercial rock and Jonah crab fisheries use traps similar to the lobster fishery and have the potential for lobster bycatch. While the bycatch cannot be retained there is the potential for some damage to lobsters, particularly during the moulting period.

2.2.3.2 Other Fisheries

While other fisheries cannot legally land lobsters, there is potential interaction with bottom mobile gear. Observer data indicates their presence in the catch of scallop, trawl, and gill nets set on the bottom. There is little quantitative information available as to the level of capture or survival of lobsters returned to the water by different gear types. Observer data from the inshore scallop fishery in SFA 29 showed that the number of lobsters caught was very small (<0.1%) compared to the number of lobsters caught by the directed trap fishery in LFA 34 (DFO. 2010/039). Of the lobsters caught the majority of which were alive and uninjured. Levels of damage or mortality on the bottom are unknown.

2.2.3.3 Interaction with Whales, Turtles and Seals

Right whales are present on the Scotian Shelf in summer and the mouth of the Bay of Fundy and Roseway Basin has been identified as summer feeding habitat. Other whale species present in coastal waters are humpback, pilot, various dolphin species, minke and various fin whales. While there is potential for interaction between lobster gear and whales, the inshore lobster fishing seasons do not often overlap with times of known whale concentrations. However, little is known of whale migration routes between the summer and winter grounds.

Industry in some LFAs has adopted a set of protocols to further reduce the potential for interaction between whales and fishing gear.
There is also potential for interaction with sea turtles, though reported interactions between whales/turtles and lobster gear are rare.
Seals are known to eat lobster bait and can cause damage to traps.

2.2.3.4 Gear Impact

A DFO national science advisory process to examine the potential impacts of traps and other gears on marine habitats and communities was held in January 2010. A Science Advisory Report from the workshop is available (DFO 2010/003) and titled “Potential impacts of fishing gears (excluding mobile bottom-contacting gears) on marine habitats and communities.”

Some conclusions from this report:

The potential impact of traps on marine habitats is dependent on a variety of factors including:

An assessment of the impact on marine habitats of lobster traps in particular has not been conducted, but numerous reviews of trap impacts have concluded that the potential for impact is small, though they agree that it could increase with density and frequency of the traps being hauled. (Eno, Macdonald et al. 2001; Morgan and Chuenpagdee 2003; Chiarella, Stevenson et al. 2005).

The single study by Eno et al. (1996) suggests that the direct contact of fishing gears with fauna may not be the primary cause of mortality and the frequency and intensity of physical contact is more likely to be important.

The trap foot print on the sea bottom is small and traps are weighted to restrict movement caused by currents. The area affected is thus limited primarily to the trap foot print area (< 0.62m2) and the area of disturbance as the trap is hauled. Proper hauling results in minimal dragging of the trap along the bottom, though greater movement can occur especially in rough weather. As a result the bottom area of potential damage is likely to be insignificant.

The type of bottom fished is varied (e.g., cobble, ledge, mud, sand, gravel), and includes some high energy areas with large natural sediment movements. The impact of traps on the bottom will vary depending on the bottom type where they are deployed and the spatial extent of deployment.

2.2.3.5 Gear Loss and Ghost Fishing

Gear loss is not quantified regularly but is believed to be low as gear is valuable and efforts are made to recover lost traps through grappling. Lost gear would remain intact for considerable periods of time unless disturbed by weather or mobile gear. However, all traps in every LFA are fitted with biodegradable panels which will open after a period of time in order to mitigate ghost fishing.

2.2.3.6 Non Retained Bycatch

Pressure from the inshore lobster fishery in the Maritimes region is not known to exert a direct impact upon ecological system structure or functioning (including specific prey or predator species) although no specific studies have been conducted. All non approved species must be immediately returned to the water. Survival of returned by-catch has not been measured but is believed to be high for most invertebrates however could be low for fish.

Bycatch species include rock and Jonah crab, sea urchins, whelks, various fish species including cusk, cod, and sculpins. A detailed survey of bycatch in all lobster fisheries was conducted in 2009-10 and results will be available in 2011.

2.2.3.7 Environment Interactions

Water temperature is a controlling factor in growth, reproduction, movements and distribution of lobsters. Temperature also affects lobster catchability (the likelihood that they will enter traps) (Drinkwater, et al. 2006). Wind and water currents influence larval distribution and movement and temperature controls larval duration.

The net effects of climate change on lobster populations are difficult to predict. Areas will be influenced both by local changes and changes in large scale ocean conditions such as the Labrador Current and its residual flow along the coast of Nova Scotia. Cooling conditions could reduce larval survival, growth and increase the size at maturity. Warming conditions could increase larval survival, growth and decrease the size at maturity. Warming conditions could also result in changes in predator mix and the potential for increased disease.

2.3 Stock Assessment:

Lobster assessments are conducted periodically through the Regional Assessment Process (RAP) coordinated by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). The target frequency for full assessments for each LFA is every 5 years. The assessments are peer reviewed and information is made public through publications available on the web (/csas) in the form of Stock Advisory Reports (SAR), Research Documents and meeting proceedings (Table 3).

Table 3 – List of assessments 1996-2009 (most recent in BOLD)
LFA Publication Year Stock Advisory Report (SAR) / Stock Status Report (SSR) Research Document
27-30 1996
1998
2004
1996/116
1998/C3-59
2004/032
1996/141
1998/124
2004/021
31-32 1996
1998
2004
1996/117
1998/C3-60
2004/033


2004/038
33 1996
1998
2004
1996/117
1998/C3-60
2004/038


2004/071
34 1996
1998
2001
2006
1996/118
1998/C3-62
2001/C3-62
2006/024

1999/032
2001/156
2006/010
35-38 1996
1998
2001
2007
1996/119
1998/C3-61
2001/C3-61
2007/037
1999/031
2001/93
2001/94
2007/41

In the absence of direct estimates of population abundance or biomass, lobster assessments develop a number of indicators that can provide knowledge on trends in the stock and assist in determining appropriate management and harvest strategies. The Maritimes Region’s Lobster Conservation Strategy (2004-2008) requires that easy to measure and easy to understand “indicators” are developed within each LFA to evaluate the status of the lobster stock. These indicators are supported by a broad representation of stakeholders, and can be used to develop decision rules that will influence management actions based on analytical results from appropriate, accurate and timely data sources.

2.3.1 Indicators

Abundance (legal sizes)

Fishing pressure

Production/recruitment

Ecosystem/environment

2.4 Stock Scenarios:

Lobsters on the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of Maine and in the Bay of Fundy are believed to be in high abundance with landings in most LFAs above long-term means. The inshore lobster fishery continues to have high exploitation rates and to be heavily dependent on new recruits making the fishery immediately susceptible to any changes in the level of recruitment. Indicators of pre-recruits from an inshore area suggest recruitment continues to be high, but tools are not presently available to predict recruitment to the fishery more than 1-2 years in advance.

The causes of the wide spread recruitment pulse in the 1980-90s and the continued high abundance are not well understood so projections beyond the immediate future are not possible. The long term impact of changing fishing patterns over the last 20 years, notably increased technology and vessels size and the expansion to previously unfished areas needs to be monitored carefully. Measuring these changes and quantifying their effect on fishing power remains a challenge.

2.5 Precautionary Approach (PA):

The precautionary approach (PA) is a decision making process with rules which identify triggers and responses during periods of changing stock health. Health of the stock is based primarily on abundance and responses would normally reduce effort on the stock during periods of decreasing abundance or allow increased effort during periods of increased abundance.

In general, the PA 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 action or failure to take action to avoid serious harm to fish stocks or their ecosystem. This approach is widely accepted as an essential part of sustainable fisheries management.

Applying the PA to fisheries management decisions entails establishing a harvest strategy that:

Pre-agreed, risk-based actions will be designed to guide management decisions on harvest rates under various stock status conditions. In the healthy zone, the fish stock status is good, and fisheries management decisions and harvest strategies are designed to maintain fish stocks within this zone. In the cautious zone, decisions and strategies promote stock rebuilding to the healthy zone. In the critical zone, stock growth is promoted and removals are kept to the lowest possible level.

Figure 6 – Schematic of the Precautionary Approach
Schematic of the Precautionary Approach

Reference points are based on the productivity objectives of the fishery and can include biological, social and economic factors. Development of quantitative reference points requires data on the stock status and is often expressed as biomass, spawning biomass or abundance. There are no estimates of biomass for lobsters in the Maritimes region so proxies must be developed that will allow for the tracking of changes in stock status even though the absolute biomass estimates remains unknown.

DFO Science is currently reviewing potential proxies for lobsters and determining levels that would represent the Upper Stock Reference point, the Limit Reference Point, and the Target Reference Point. Stock levels above the Upper Stock Reference Point are deemed to be in the “Healthy Zone”. If the stock level falls below the Upper Stock Reference Point, the stock has entered the “Cautious zone” and the harvest rate should be reduced. If the stock level falls below the Limit Reference Point, the stock has entered the “Critical Zone” and management must take serious measures to ensure stock rebuilding.

The Removal Reference Point represents the maximum removal rate, often expressed as Fishing mortality (F) or exploitation rates. Exploitation rate is the ratio of all human removals to total exploitable stock size.

The two FRCC reviews (1995 and 2007) both concluded that in most inshore LFAs exploitation rates were too high and at risk of over-exploitation. Growth overfishing occurs when animals are caught at a size where more growth would provide better production and recruitment overfishing occurs when fishing reduces the stock to a level where future recruitment is lowered. Recent assessments have also identified that in most LFAs exploitation rates were high though the lobster populations themselves had benefited from an extended period of higher than average recruitment and were thus not in immediate danger. However reduced exploitation rates were recommended.

The Report of the Lobster Conservation Working group (2001) recommended the development of easy to measure and easy to understand “indicators” to evaluate the status of the lobster stock. These included indices of the following categories in the population or the fishery: (1) spawners, (2) recruits, (3) exploitation rate, (4) prevalence (distribution), and (5) ecosystem factors. Stock Advisory Reports (SAR) have subsequently been developed for LFA 34 and the Bay of Fundy (LFAs 35, 36 & 38) and will be developed for LFAs 27 – 33 in 2011, which include a similar set of indicators, although they still do not include a specific set of objectives, reference points or any decision rules for each component. Removal reference points will be developed based on historical exploitation levels and output from growth and reproduction models.

The Target Reference Point is a stock level that may be greater than or equal to the Upper Reference Point for the fishery and is a level for the fishery that is considered to be desirable and at which management action should aim. This may take into greater account social and economic aspects of the particular LFA(s).

Currently there are no direct indicators of abundance available for the lobster fishery and more work is needed to develop more biologically based levels. The only long-term information available for all Maritimes region based LFAs is total landings. It is recognized that landings are not a very sensitive indicator of biomass given the influence of changes in effort, efficiency and catchability. However, until there can be peer reviewed input on the potential use of other indicators this is the only available proxy for abundance that has a significant time series (> 20 years). The potential for using alternate proxies for biomass will be evaluated and candidate reference points for selected indicators will be examined in a Science RAP process.

In addition to discussing proxies at the Science RAP, potential responses to decreasing stock abundance should be evaluated. If sufficient information is available these responses could include but will not be limited to changes in or introduction of:

No introduction of responses will be implemented without prior consultation with industry. Both indicators and responses may vary between LFAs. However, introducing significantly different approaches within neighbouring LFAs may require extended consultations.

Using the proxy of landings as the starting point some candidate interim thresholds for lobster fisheries have been developed based on landings (Table 4). These candidate interim thresholds are informed by what has been adopted in the US lobster fishery and the document “A fishery decision-making framework incorporating the Precautionary Approach” [available at /reports-rapports/regs/sff-cpd/precaution-back-fiche-eng.htm].

Currently landings are in the healthy zone, well above the median landings for 1985-2004 (Table 6). For both eastern and western portions of the Maritimes region a reduction of at least 20% from 2008 landings levels would be required to reach median landing levels (LFA 27 and LFA 33 respectively). Since a recruitment failure of this magnitude is not reasonably expected to occur in a single year the following steps towards a precautionary approach for the inshore lobster fishery are recommended until better information is available.

Table 4 – Initial PA Reference Points based on Total Landings
Target Reference Point Undefined for now. It is expected that median landings will only be used for a short period of time until an improved indicator is developed.
Upper Reference Point Candidate:
80% of Median landings 1985-2004
Limit Reference Point Candidate:
40% of median landings
Removal Reference Point Exploitation rate in assessment (90th percentile for period examined in last available assessment) (essentially a cap while details of requirements reviewed)
  1. Initially the target removal reference point will be set at the 90th percentile of exploitation rate estimates for a period identified during the next RAP review process.
  2. DFO will begin to work with industry to agree on potential measures to take if the upper stock reference level is reached. All agreed upon potential measures will be assessed for effectiveness through the RAP process.
  3. If landing levels decrease to the median landing values, DFO Science Branch will evaluate the cause of the reduction or identify sampling/surveys needed to identify the cause.
  4. If landing levels reach 80% of the median landing levels the upper stock reference point will be reached and measures will be taken to reduce the removal rate. These actions may vary depending on the specific conditions of the day but will be based on the measures assessed through the RAP process. Actions will be established in consultation with industry. Reductions in landings caused by changes in the market/economic conditions will be excluded from this PA framework.
  5. A lower limit reference point will be tentatively set at 40% of the median landing values.
  6. When actions taken allow the state of the stock to recover above a reference point increases in the removal rate can be discussed with industry.
  7. A DFO Working Group will be established to refine the precautionary approach. Research will be conducted to develop a better indicator of abundance to be used in the precautionary approach.
  8. Changes to this precautionary approach will be made as better information (e.g. better proxies for abundance) becomes available after consultation with all parties.

    Alternatives may include multi-indicator approaches that establish thresholds for a variety of indicators and reduce the sensitivity of the PA approach to changes in any one indicator or that may not be reflective of changes in stock status.

Table 5 – Historical Lobster Landings by LFA
  LFA33 LFA34 LFA35 LFA36 LFA38
2007/2008 2,615 17,149 1,489 1,479 1,857
Median 1985-2004 2,103 10,326 330 340 551
80% 1,682 8,261 264 272 441
40% 841 4,131 132 136 220
Lowest 1970-2008 213 2813 71 65 130
Eastern Nova Scotia Landing Values
  LFA32 LFA31 LFA30 LFA27 LFA28-29
2008 718 2,000 413 2,697 1,094
Median 1985-2004 289 303 90 2,142 107
80% 231 242 72 1,714 86
40% 116 121 36 857 43
Lowest 1970-2008 49 41 13 547 20

2.6 Research

2.6.1 Size at maturity

Goal is to update estimates for this key biological parameter affecting egg production. Sampling and analysis underway for eastern LFAs (27-31a); sampling initiated in LFA 33 in 2009 and plan to extend to LFA 34 in 2010.

2.6.2 Lobster settlement strength and distribution

Goal is to determine whether settlement numbers provide an indicator of year class strength, and to evaluate geographic differences in the numbers of settlers. Tools include settlement collectors and SCUBA (suction sampling). This is a joint project with FSRS.

2.6.3 Lobster molt and quality study

Goal is to understand variations in lobster quality in relation to molt condition. Lead is AVC Lobster Science Centre with DFO and FSRS contributions.

2.6.4 Fishery independent indicators of lobster abundance

Goal is to provide indicators of abundance that are independent of the trap fishery. Project includes pilot surveys for lobster abundance using video as well as analysis of data on lobster abundance collected during other surveys such as the annual ecosystem trawl survey, and surveys directed at scallops.

2.6.5 Sustainable Fisheries Framework

Under this umbrella research and assessment will be conducted on the following topics:

2.7 References

Aiken, D. E. and S. L. Waddy (1986). “Environmental influence on recruitment of the American lobster, Homarus americanus: a perspective.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 43(11): 2258-2270.

Campbell, A. (1983). “Growth of tagged American lobsters, Homarus americanus, in the Bay of Fundy.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 40(10): 1667-1675.

Campbell, A. (1986). “Migratory movements of ovigerous lobsters, Homarus americanus, tagged off Grand Manan, Eastern Canada.” Canadian journal of fisheries and aquatic sciences 43: 2197-2205.

Carter, J. A. and D. H. Steele (1982). “Stomach Contents of Immature Lobsters (Homarus americanus) From Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.” Canadian Journal of Zoology/Revue Canadienne de Zoologie 60(3): 337-347.

Chiarella, L. A., D. K. Stevenson, et al. (2005). “Results of a Workshop on the Effects of Fishing Gear on Benthic Habitats off the Northeastern United States.” American Fisheries Society Symposium 41: 833-834. 2005.

Comeau, M. and F. Savoie (2001). “Growth increment and molt frequency of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) in the southwestern Gulf of St. Lawrence.” Journal of Crustacean Biology 21(4): 923-936.

Comeau, M. and F. Savoie (2002). “Maturity and reproductive cycle of the female American lobster, Homarus americanus in the southern Gulf of St Lawrence, Canada.” Journal of Crustacean Biology 22(4): 762-774.

DFO (2009). Biological Basis for the Protection of Large Lobsters in Lobster Fishing Areas 33 to 38. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Resp. 2008/017 16p.

DFO. 2010. Assessment of Scallops (Placopecten magellanicus) in Scallop Fishing Area (SFA) 29 West of Longitude 65 30'W. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2010/039.

DFO. 2010. Potential impacts of fishing gears (excluding mobile bottom-contacting gears) on marine habitats and communities. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Sci. Advis. Rep. 2010/003.

Drinkwater, K., C. Hannah, et al. (2001). Modelling the Drift of Lobster Larvae off Southwest Nova Scotia Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Research Document. 2001/51: 32.

Drinkwater, K. F., M. J. Tremblay, et al. (2006). “The influence of wind and temperature on the catch rate of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) during spring fisheries off eastern Canada.” Fisheries Oceanography 15(2): 150-165.

Elner, R. W. and A. Campbell (1987). “Natural diets of lobster Homarus americanus from barren ground and macroalgal habitats off southwestern Nova Scotia, Canada.” Marine ecology progress series. Oldendorf 37(2-3): 131-140.

Eno, N., D. S. Macdonald, et al. (2001). “Effects of crustacean traps on benthic fauna.” ICES Journal of Marine Science 58(1): 11-20.

Fogarty, M. J. and J. S. Idoine (1988). “Application of a yield and egg production model based on size to an offshore American lobster population.” Transactions of the American Fisheries Society 117(4): 350-362.

Gendron, L., P. Fradette, et al. (2001). “The importance of rock crab (Cancer irroratus) for growth, condition and ovary development of adult American lobster (Homarus americanus).” Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 262(2): 221-241.

Harding, G. C. (1992). American lobster (Homarus americanus Millne Edwards): A discussion paper on their environmental requirements and the known anthropogenic effects on their populations: Canadian technical report of fisheries and aquatic sciences/Rapport technique canadien des sciences halieutiques et aquatiques 1992.

Kenchington, E. L., G. C. Harding, et al. (2009). “Pleistocene glaciation events shape genetic structure across the range of the American lobster, Homarus americanus.” Molecular Ecology 18(8): 1654-1667.

Lavalli, K. L. and P. Lawton (1996). “Historical review of lobster life history terminology and proposed modifications to current schemes.” Crustaceana 69(5): 594-609.

Morgan, L. E. and R. Chuenpagdee (2003). Shifting gears: addressing the collateral impacts of fishing methods in U.S. waters. Pew science series on conservation and the environment, Pew science series on conservation and the environment, Environment Division Pew Charitable Trusts.

Pezzack, D. S. and D. R. Duggan (1986). “Evidence of migration and homing of lobsters (Homarus americanus) on the Scotian Shelf.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries & Aquatic Sciences 43(11): 2206-2211.

Waddy, S. L. and D. E. Aiken (1986). “Multiple fertilization and consecutive spawning in large American lobsters, Homarus americanus.” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 43(11): 4.

Waddy, S. L. and D. E. Aiken (1990). “Intermolt insemination, an alternative mating strategy for the American lobster (Homarus americanus).” Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 47(12): 2402-2406.

Waddy, S. L. and D. E. Aiken (1991). Egg production in the American lobster, Homarus americanus. Crustacean Egg Production A. Wenner and A. Kuris.

Xue, H., L. Incze, et al. (2008). “Connectivity of lobster populations in the coastal Gulf of Maine. Part I: Circulation and larval transport potential.” Ecological Modelling 210(1-2): 193-211.

3. Social, Cultural, and Economic Importance of the Inshore Lobster Fishery

The Lobster fishery has developed into the backbone of the inshore commercial fishery in the Maritimes Region. Lobster landings in Maritimes Region have increased in recent years, reaching 34, 110 metric tonnes (mt) in 2008 (Figure 7).

Figure 7: Maritimes Region Lobster Landings and Value, 1980-2008
Bar graph of Maritimes Region Lobster Landings and Value, 1980-2008

Source: DFO Maritimes Region

Over the last two decades, Lobster has gone from accounting for about one-third of the value of the commercial fishery in Maritimes Region to about 55 percent in 2008. In 2008, Maritimes Region Lobster accounted for 20 percent of the value of the entire Canadian commercial fishery (Figure 8) with a landed value of approximately $372 million.

Figure 8: Canadian Total Commercial Fishery Landed Value
with Maritime Region Lobster and Other Species, 2008, $ million
Pie chart of Canadian Total Commercial Fishery Landed Value with Maritime Region Lobster and Other Species, 2008, $ million

Source: Compiled by DFO Maritimes Region

Maritimes Region has almost 3,000 inshore commercial Lobster licences distributed across 12 Lobster Fishing Areas (LFAs). Together with crews, the inshore Lobster fishery directly employs approximately 7,200 people.

Since the mid-1970s, the total supply of Lobster from Canada and the north eastern United States has increased substantially, reaching about 95,000 mt by the late 2000s. This overall increase was generated by sustained increases in catch in both the Canadian and American Lobster fisheries. Lobster supply is generally spread over much of the year, with Maritimes and Gulf Region accounting for most of the spring fishery, Maine accounting for most of the summer fishery, and Maritimes Region providing the supply during the pre-holiday period of November and December. LFA 34 supplies the majority of landings during this period and between 2004 and 2008, an annual average of 19% of the North American supply came from LFA 34. The capacity for Lobster harvesters to hold and store Lobster in order to better align supply with demand has increased in recent years.

Trade flows for Lobster are relatively complex. Soft-shelled Lobster makes up much of the summer US landings. A significant portion of this product is shipped to Canada for further processing and/or consumption. As there are few Lobster canning operations in the US, a majority of this product is shipped to Canada. Much of the Canadian live product is purchased by US-based buyers and either consumed in the US or re-exported to overseas markets. Weakened demand resulting from the global economic crisis which began in late 2008 has led to lower price pressures for Lobster.

Canadian Lobster export value was $805 million for 2009 which represented a decline from recent years. Nova Scotia exports of Lobster were valued at about $354 million in 2009, with live Lobster accounting for approximately 87 percent of exported value. Approximately 71 percent of live Lobster exports from Nova Scotia went to the US. Market trends affecting Lobster include the rise of sustainable food certification (or ‘eco-labelling’), and the transportation of live Lobster via ocean freight.

Lobster in its live form has developed into a high-end or luxury food item in the foodservice market segment and until 2008 provided Canadian harvesters with a relatively premium wharf price. After adjusting for inflation and converting to US dollar terms, the shore price of Lobster remained largely in the US$4.00-5.00 range over the last few decades, rising above US$5.00 from 2004 to 2008, and then dropping to just below US$4.00 in 2009. A favourable exchange rate has provided benefits to Canadian sellers, particularly during the 1993-2004 period when one Canadian dollar averaged US$0.71. Lobster price has also faced downward pressure from the steadily increasing total North American combined supply of Lobster from the US and Canada from the early 1990s through to 2008.

Throughout Maritimes Region, Lobster licence holders are highly dependent on Lobster as a portion of their overall commercial fisheries revenue. Lobster also provides an important revenue source for many Aboriginal communities in Maritimes Region.

Many counties in Maritimes Region are dependent on Lobster as a major part of their overall commercial fishery landings. While Yarmouth and Shelburne Counties have a high dependence on Lobster with high landings levels, there are others, such as Annapolis County, where Lobster landings are relatively low yet Lobster features strongly in the county’s overall commercial fishery landings.

Average landed values per licence vary greatly across Maritimes Region with some LFAs along the eastern shore of Nova Scotia showing dramatic increases in landings in recent years. As a result, licence holders in some Maritimes Region LFAs have made significant investments in their Lobster fishing enterprises, including the purchase of more powerful fishing vessels.

More information on the economic profile of this fishery can be found in the Fisheries and Oceans Canada report Economic Profile of the Maritimes Region Inshore Commercial Lobster Fishery (Lobster Fishing Areas 27-38).

4. Management Issues

4.1 Fisheries Issues (All LFAs)

4.1.1 Use of by-catch

License holders in all LFAs may use Green Crab, male Rock Crab or Sculpin by-catch as bait. In addition, male Jonah Crab may be used as bait or landed and sold in LFAs 34-38. Male Rock Crab by-catch may be landed and sold in all areas. Directed commercial fisheries also occur for Rock and Jonah Crab. In order to accurately assess these stocks by-catch information should be collected from other fisheries. Licence holders are required to record the amount of crab used as bait on reporting documents, and all crab landings must be reported via completion of the crab monitoring document.

Requests for use of other by-catch species must be submitted to DFO through the Advisory Committee process. These will be reviewed to ensure consistency with DFO regulations, and to assess the impact on existing or potential fisheries, or the stock itself.

4.1.2 Tag replacement policy

All lobster licence holder are subject to a trap limit and are issued a yearly set of numerically numbered and dated plastic tags to attach to their traps which match the trap limit. Compliance of the trap limit is monitored through verification of validly tagged traps. When traps are lost, damage, destroyed or need to be replaced, the licence holder must obtain a replacement tag. In an effort to ensure that tag replacement policies are documented and consistent among LFAs the Regional approach is being considered. Tag replacement procedures should ensure that requests are formal, and accurately track the number of traps lost each year. They should be administratively efficient, and should provide licence holders with reasonable access, and ensure that records are maintained in a manner that facilitates compliance. Various approaches are in place throughout the Region and licence holders should contact a local DFO office or industry representative for the specifics in their respective LFAs.

4.1.3 Reporting requirements

Data provided through the submission of logbooks is the primary method through which catch, effort, landings, value, by-catch, species at risk, and positional information is collected for this fishery. Historically, compliance with reporting requirements was approximately 75%. In 2008 DFO announced that effective for the 2009 season, licences for lobster fishing will not be issued until fish harvesters have filed reporting documents (logbooks) for all months of the previous lobster season. Licence holders should refer to their conditions for details related to reporting requirements including those related to species at risk. Licence holders who have “banked” their licence must still comply with reporting requirements (this may entail submission of a nil report).

Logbooks must be submitted to a certified Dockside Monitoring Company (DMC) recognized by DFO Maritimes Region.

Please Note: Bay St. Lawrence licence holders in LFA 27 are based in the Gulf region and therefore must submit their logs to DMCs which are designated for both the Gulf and Maritimes region.

4.1.4 Gear loss

Lost gear is a source of mortality for lobster and other species through what is termed ghost fishing. This lost gear also represents an economic loss to the licence holder. Although an estimate of lost gear can be obtained using the number of replacement tags issued annually it is difficult to be precise. Quantifying and monitoring gear loss is an important consideration for fisheries pursuing Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification for this and conservation reasons it is important that this source of mortality be minimized.

4.1.5 Gear conflict

The potential for gear conflict is possible within all LFAs. Historically this fleet has maintained good communication with other fisheries to alleviate any problems. Regulations help to address conflict by defining properly marked gear and spacing requirements. Section 37(1) of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, with respect to gear spacing, states that the master of a vessel with mobile gear shall maintain a distance of at least one-half nautical mile between his vessel, including any mobile gear attached thereto, and any previously set fishing gear.

The combination of applying existing regulations pertaining to distances between mobile and previously set fixed gear, gear marking, the promotion of enhanced communication and conflict resolution between fleets will continue as the main approach to resolve potential conflicts.

4.2 Fisheries Issues (LFA 33)

4.2.1 Licence Replacement Policy (LFA 33)

Within LFA 33 redistribution of licences and effort, in some cases to take advantage of the increased catch rates, has been a source of concern. A policy was developed in 2006 , updated in 2010, through the advisory committee process to minimize negative impacts of this redistribution. It does not apply to commercial communal licences held by First Nation organizations. As well, a policy was developed to ensure that the approval of a substitute operator was compliant with licence transfer policy. The policies are as follows:

Licence transfers of LFA 33 lobster licences are eligible to be transferred to:

Designation of Substitute Operator (SO) privileges in LFA 33:

4.3 Depleted Species Concerns

4.3.1 Species at Risk Act (SARA)

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

The coming into force of the Species at Risk Act (SARA) in June 2003 resulted in prohibitions against killing, harming, harassing, capturing, taking or possessing any species listed on Schedule 1 of the Act as an extirpated species, an endangered species, or a threatened species, and against damaging or destroying the residence of individuals of a species listed as endangered or threatened. These prohibitions came into force January 2004 and will apply unless a person is authorized, by a permit, licence or other similar document issued in accordance with this Act, to engage in an activity affecting the listed species or the residences of its individuals.

Subsection 32(1) Species at Risk Act prohibits harm to any species of wildlife that is listed as “threatened” or “endangered”. However, subsection 83(4) of that same Act can exempt certain activities provided that

The protection and recovery of species at risk involves the development and implementation of species-specific recovery strategies, action plans and management plans. Recovery plans identify population objectives, threats and critical habitat for one or more species and propose activities to achieve recovery. Action plans provide the details on management measures and timelines. In the case of species of special concern, a management plan to prevent species from becoming threatened or endangered is required. Based on these recovery plans the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada may approve a recovery strategy that would allow for an incidental by-catch in a commercial fishery.

Management measures of the inshore lobster fishery were examined to determine if:

Maritimes Region waters are at the southern extent of the Wolfish distribution and although turtles have been known to become entangled with anchor lines of fixed gear there have been no reports of mortality from the inshore lobster fishery. Current levels of impact from the inshore lobster fishery on these SARA-listed species, although interactions may occur, are not thought to jeopardize survival or recovery for these species. Based on this review, the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans approved a recovery strategy for spotted wolfish, northern wolfish and leatherback turtles that would allow for an incidental by-catch in the inshore lobster fishery.

A SARA by-catch project was conducted in 2009/2010 to determine the level of by-catch in the inshore lobster fishery. If results suggest that interventions are required to reduce by-catch of protected species then discussions will be held with industry to determine an appropriate response.

Northern Atlantic right whales are found in Atlantic Canadian waters from June through December. Their activity primarily extends from their critical habitat in the lower Bay of Fundy (LFAs 36/38) to the Roseway Basin Area (LFAs 33/34). The lobster fishery in this area does not start until late November and as such the overlap with the right whale activity is limited.

Effective 2010 all lobster licence holders are required, through conditions of licence, to submit a SARA logbook (available at DFO Licensing Centres) at the end of each fishing season whether or not species at risk are encountered. In addition, when lobster licence holders receive their licence conditions they will be provided with a telephone number (1-866-567-6277) to report sightings of entangled or injured whales.

In support of biodiversity objectives, inshore lobster fishermen have worked with WWF-Canada to develop protocols which will reduce the chance of entangling North Atlantic Right Whales in lobster gear. A Voluntary Standard Practices (Appendix 3) for the lobster fishermen has been accepted in LFA 33 and LFA 34 and is being promoted in the Bay of Fundy.

Cusk was initially assessed by COSEWIC as "threatened" in 2003 and 2006. Since that time DFO has been compiling information to determine whether the species should be added to Schedule 1 under SARA. A listing decision has not been made at this time. If the species is listed, DFO will consult with industry in the development of mitigation measures should they be required. COSEWIC plans on re-assessing Cusk in Nov. 2012.

For more information please see the Environment Canada web page at http://www.speciesatrisk.gc.ca.

4.4 Oceans and Habitat Considerations

Oceans and Habitat Considerations

Oceans management involves the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s oceans in collaboration with other levels of government, Aboriginal organizations and other non-government stakeholders through the development and implementation of objectives-based integrated oceans management plans and the application of marine conservation tools. Modern oceans management arrangements deal with a number of challenges including oceans health, marine habitat loss, declining biodiversity, growing demands for access to ocean resources and regulatory and jurisdictional complexities.

Maritimes Region delivers regional programs and services in support of DFO’s national mandate for Fish Habitat Management and Oceans Management. The national mandate for the Oceans Management Program and the Fish Habitat Management Program can be found at /index-eng.htm.

The 1997 Oceans Act is the enabling legislation for Oceans Management. Specific program direction and focus has been developed to align with Canada’s Oceans Strategy and the 2005 Oceans Action Plan. The region is focusing its attention on two of the four pillars of the new Oceans Action Plan. The first, Health of the Oceans, guides regional work in areas of Marine Protected Areas, Species at Risk responsibilities and Marine Environment Quality guidelines and the second, Integrated Oceans Management for Sustainable Development, is the foundation for programs such as the Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Initiative (ESSIM). Through formal and informal arrangements, DFO works in collaboration with community groups, industry, First Nations, other levels of government to achieve its mandate.

Integrated Oceans Management and Marine Conservation Tools

Integrated oceans management involves adopting a spatially-based planning and management approach, based on ecosystem-scale management objectives, which provide guidance to all ocean-related regulators and users. Associated governance structures provide a forum for bringing together ocean users and stakeholders including provinces, territories, Aboriginal groups, industry and coastal communities to plan for activities in Canada’s oceans. The development of plans that include ecological, social and economic objectives is a key requirement of successful integrated oceans management.

Marine conservation tools including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) support the sustainable management of the oceans resource by providing options to secure critical aspects of the ecosystem from harm. Since healthy and productive ocean ecosystems are the foundation of all ocean related activities, a number of actions including MPAs are undertaken to protect and manage unique and sensitive ecosystems. Furthermore, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Environment Canada and Parks Canada are all mandated to establish MPAs for different but complementary reasons.

As part of the integrated approach to the marine ecosystem in the Maritimes region the Gully MPA was established. The Eastern Scotian Shelf was identified as a Large Ocean Management Area (LOMA) for planning under ESSIM. Since the Eastern Scotain Shelf extends out to the continental shelf and the primary fishing grounds of the inshore lobster fleet are within 15 km of the coast any impact on the eastern Nova Scotia lobster fleet as a whole is limited.

Within the ESSIM 3 potential Areas of Interest (AOIs) have been identified to support the Prime Ministers announcement for the development of a second MPA within ESSIM by 2012. Consultations have occurred with representatives of all potentially impacted LFAs prior to the final submission of an AOI for Ministerial consideration. The impact of any MPA on the lobster fishery may vary greatly depending on the geographic location and the level of restrictions applied. These restrictions will depend on the protection required for the area and will be identified during the consultation on the development of the MPA.

ESSIM is a collaborative ocean management and planning process involving all stakeholders that provides long-term direction and commitment for integrated, ecosystem-based management of all marine activities in the Eastern Scotian Shelf area. An ESSIM Stakeholder Advisory Committee participated in the development of plan objectives and strategies for the area. To implement these strategies the ESSIM process will build upon the existing management and planning structure already in place.

The initial laying of the Sable Gas pipeline in the early 2000’s and the laying of a parallel line from Deep Panuke, as well as seismic activities associated with oil exploration of the Scotian shelf are concerns to those who participate in the inshore lobster fishery in eastern Nova Scotia due to potential habitat disruption and stressors associated with sound waves. Representatives of the fleet continue to attend meetings of the Canada Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Board (CNSOPB) to work with them in addressing the issue, answering questions and reducing the impact on the fishery.

4.5 Gear Impacts

As discussed in Section 2.1.1 Stock Assessment, adult lobsters can be found on all bottom types (e.g., cobble, ledge, mud, sand, and gravel). In high energy areas, particularly mud and sand, natural sediment movements have a significantly greater impact than lobster traps. The spatial scale of the trap foot print is small and traps are weighted in order to minimize movement due to currents. As a result, the area of potential damage on the marine ecosystem, including the benthic habitat, is likely to be insignificant compared to other types of fishing gear. Trap impacts do however, depend on density of placement and frequency of trap hauls. (see Section 2.2.3.4), and the potential impact of the tens of millions of trap hauls in a year throughout the entire Maritimes region is not fully understood.

4.6 International Issues

International considerations include (1) market access, where-as an estimated 95 % of the catch is exported to the United States, European Economic Community and Japan, and (2) an outstanding maritime boundary dispute between Canada and USA in the Gulf of Maine.

4.6.1 Market Access

4.6.1.1 European Union - Illegal Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) Fisheries

The European Union (EU) has introduced regulations effective January 2010 that require Canadian fish and seafood products to have a government validated catch certificate attesting that the product is from a non-IUU fishery. Live lobster is not exempt from this requirement.

DFO has created a new Catch Certification Office (CCO) and will provide client services to those in the fishing industry affected by this new regulation. These services will be through a web-based system (called the Fisheries Certificate System) that accepts applications from industry with validation from the CCO and then audit and verification by Enforcement Staff.

The first official catch certificate under the European Union IUU catch regulation was issued successfully on January 1, 2010.

More information can be found on the Fisheries Renewal website under Tracking & Traceability (http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca fish-ren-peche/index-eng.htm).

4.6.1.2 Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP)

PSP is a serious illness caused by eating shellfish contaminated with algae that contains a toxin harmful to humans. When algae levels elevate in marine waters the condition is sometimes referred to as a “red tide”. In July 2008, after testing United States lobster samples, the United States Food and Drug Agency advised the public against consuming lobster hepatopancreas from the East Coast (including Canada) due to elevated levels of PSP. Subsequently, Japan implemented mandatory testing of hepatopancreas in shipments of lobsters from Canada to verify compliance with Japan’s Food Sanitation Law. This mandatory testing slowed the release of the product to market and if tested positive was refused entry to Japan.

In response to requirements by the Japanese government, a survey was conducted throughout the Maritimes to determine the distribution and levels of PSP. Canada and Japan have agreed upon a certification process whereby exporters test their own shipments and obtain export certificates through the Canadian Food and Inspection Agency (CFIA). Although random shipments may be tested, this allows for the unrestricted flow of product into Japan.

4.6.1.3 World Wide – Ecolabelling

The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is an international non-profit organization that administers the most widely recognized environmental certification and eco-labeling program for wild capture fisheries. MSC certified fish products are said to come from fisheries that meet standards for sustainable fishing. The State of Maine lobster industry has undergone pre-assessment under the MSC and has proceeded with full assessment. In late 2009 all Maritimes Region LFAs, with the exception of LFA 38, combined to proceed with a pre-assessment. This pre-assessment will identify potential obstacles to full certification. Additional information about the MSC is available on-line at: http://www.msc.org.

4.6.2 Transboundary

In October 1984, a binding decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) decision established the official boundary between Canada and the United States (US) in the Gulf of Maine known as the “Hague Line”. The ICJ decision did not address overlapping claims within the 12 mile limit. As a result, an area of approximately 259 km2 surrounding Machias Seal Island, commonly referred to by industry as the “Grey Zone” remains in dispute. The authority for the Canadian claim is found in the Oceans Act, Fishing Zones of Canada (Zone 4 and 5) Order. The authority for the US claim is taken from the US Federal Register/Vol. 60: No 163/ Wednesday August 23, 1995 / Notices. 43825.

In the late 1990’s Maine lobster harvesters significantly increased their effort in the Disputed Zone, causing considerable concern for adjacent Canadian lobster harvesters. Discussions between officials and licence holders have failed to achieve a consensus on the management of this area. Since 2002 DFO has authorized LFA 38 licence holders to fish from August 15 to October 31 providing year-round Canadian fishing access within the Disputed Zone (LFA 38B).

Canada-US enforcement collaboration has included an annual joint enforcement planning meeting between Department of Marine Resources (DMR), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and DFO. In addition, DFO Conservation and Protection officials, the Canadian Coast Guard Captains and the State of Maine Department of Marine Resources have a joint planning approach for vessel patrols providing a strong enforcement presence throughout the Disputed Zone.

5. OBJECTIVES

Management planning involves the specification of objectives (what you want to achieve), of strategies (what will be done to achieve these objectives) and of tactical management measures (how the strategies will be implemented). It is impractical to pursue conservation in isolation from the economic, social and cultural aspirations of users, and these must be recognized in any plan if it is to be successful. This section therefore presents objectives for both the conservation aspects of the fishery and the social, cultural and economic aspects. Section 6, presents the strategies associated with these objectives, and Section 7 presents the tactical management measures that will be adhered to for the duration of this plan.

5.1 Conservation Objectives

Any commercial fishing will have some level of negative impact on the ecosystem. The intent of DFO’s conservation objectives is to limit negative impacts on the ecosystem (i.e. on harvested stocks, non-harvested stocks, or the habitats on which stocks rely). DFO is committed to managing in an environmentally sustainable manner while recognizing the economic importance of this industry to multiple stakeholders. The overarching conservation objective is to allow sustainable use that safeguards ecological processes and genetic diversity for present and future generations.

More specifically, DFO’s conservation objectives are as follows:

Productivity is currently the primary conservation objective for the Maritimes Region inshore lobster fishery, and achieving this objective is critical. A discussion on reproductive productivity is in Section 2.1.4 (Reproductive Potential). Background on species productivity for lobster is available in the FRCC reports of 1995 and 2007, as well as in the 2001 Report of the Lobster Conservation Working Group.

5.2 Social, Cultural and Economic Objectives

One of the Department’s social, cultural and economic objectives is to support healthy and prosperous Aboriginal communities, and to ensure respect for the constitutional protection afforded Aboriginal and treaty rights.

A second objective is to help create the circumstances for economically prosperous fisheries. The commercial fishing industry generates economic benefits for Canadian businesses and supports many coastal communities. Ultimately, the economic viability of the commercial fishery depends on the industry itself. However, the Department is committed to managing the commercial fishery in a manner that helps its members be economically successful while using the ocean’s resources in an environmentally sustainable manner. The overarching social, cultural and economic objective is thus to help create the circumstances for economically prosperous fisheries wherein fishing enterprises are more self reliant, self adjusting and internationally competitive.

The Economic Profile of the Maritimes Region Inshore Commercial Lobster Fishery written by the Policy and Economic Branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maritimes Region, provides an in-depth review of the contribution the Maritimes Region lobster fishery makes to our social, cultural and economic objectives.

6. STRATEGIES

While the above objectives may be considered to be general statements, they are translated into practical terms through the definition of strategies. The strategies outlined in this IFMP constitute what is being done to manage pressures imposed by fishing activities in order to control their impact on valued fish population and ecosystem attributes. Such pressures include fishing mortality, disturbance of bottom habitat and introduction of pollutants. Fish population attributes include spawning biomass, size/age structure, genetic diversity. Similarly, ecosystems attributes include the area of a particular habitat type and the balance of predators to prey.

DFO is making efforts to identify ecologically or biologically sensitive areas (EBSAs), ecologically or biologically sensitive species (EBSSs), Depleted Species and Degraded Areas that are also viewed as attributes of an ecosystem.

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

6.1 Conservation Strategies

Explicit strategies (with specified references where these have been developed) have been developed for the key pressures imposed by the inshore lobster fishery, as follows.

Productivity

As discussed in Section 2, the strategy for moderating lobster fishing mortality is provisional, and work will be carried out over the next few years to refine the strategy in accordance with the Department’s policy on the precautionary approach.

In addition, consideration will need to be given to accounting for incidental mortality from lost lobster traps as well as to developing reference points for the retained bycatch species.

Biodiversity

The contribution of the inshore lobster fishery to the mortality of North Atlantic Right Whales cannot be quantitatively measured. Nevertheless, since right whales are endangered efforts will continue to keep interactions with them as low as practicable.

The need to develop more specific strategies and reference points for other species will be considered as the impact of the inshore lobster fishery on by-catch becomes better understood. Additional data on discards from the fishery was collected in 2009, and analysis of this data will be available in the near future.

Habitat

Currently there are two Marine Protected Areas and two coral closures in the Maritimes Region, with broad restrictions on fishing. While these areas are outside the areas fished by the inshore lobster fleet, they nevertheless form part of a strategy within the region for managing the disturbance of bottom habitat. The need for the inshore lobster fishery to adopt additional, more specific measures to manage disturbance of bottom habitat will be considered as the Department gains a better understanding of the location of sensitive habitats and their susceptibility to trap fishing.

Other strategies for protecting habitat are to limit the introduction of pollutants and debris (oils, plastic straps, bait boxes, tags, etc.) from the large number of vessels used in this fishery.

6.2 Social, Cultural and Economic Strategies

In the inshore lobster fishery, the strategy for supporting healthy and prosperous Aboriginal communities is as follows:

The strategies for achieving the more general prosperity objective are as follows:

These strategies reflect some of the recommendations from the AFPR, which has been subsumed within the broader Fisheries Renewal initiative. Among other things, AFPR emphasized the need for flexibility in policy and licensing, and stability in access to resources and allocations. Fisheries Renewal recognizes that strategies such as these will improve the ability of fishing enterprises to adapt to changing resource and market conditions and to respond to market opportunities. These are particularly important to the inshore lobster fishery, which historically has been a cyclic fishery both in abundance and in market price. The fleet requires methods to adapt to both good and bad conditions

In addition, the region’s strategies for supporting economic prosperity reflect the increasingly conservation orientated environment in which the fishing industry operates. Fishers face increasing domestic and international pressure to demonstrate the sustainability of their operations with respect to both the target species and the ecosystem more broadly. Continued access to some markets hinges on this. In this context, the Department is committed to supporting fleets seeking environmental certification and, in this way, to helping maintain access to international and domestic markets.

7. TACTICAL MANAGEMENT MEASURES FOR THE DURATION OF THE PLAN

Tactical management measures are “how” the strategies will be implemented to manage the pressures imposed by fishery activities. The principal tactical management measures that will be applied in this fishery to implement the key strategies identified above are described here. (Note that tactics may regulate more that one pressure. They are listed here under the strategies that they are most strongly associated with.)

Productivity

Keep lobster fishing mortality moderate

Keep fishing mortality moderate for by-catch

Allow sufficient escapement from exploitation for spawning

Biodiversity

Control unintended incidental mortality of North Atlantic Right Whales

Control unintended incidental mortality for other species

Habitat

Manage area disturbed of bottom habitat

Limit introduction of pollutants

Prosperity

Facilitate Aboriginal participation in fisheries and associated economic opportunities, and in the management of aquatic resources

Offer flexibility in policy and licensing

Promote stability in access to resources and allocations

Allow self-adjustment of capacity to resource availability

Support certification for sustainability

8. ACCESS AND ALLOCATION

In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that members of the Musqueam band had an Aboriginal right to fish for food, social and ceremonial purposes. As a response to that decision, DFO launched the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy, which provided members of Aboriginal groups access to fisheries resources for food, social and ceremonial purposes. DFO recognizes this food, social and ceremonial access to fishery resources has priority over other allocations, provided conservation of the stock is not an issue. Within this principle, DFO provides regulated access to lobster for Aboriginal people to provide for some of their food, social and ceremonial needs.

Commercial access to this resource is managed as a limited entry, competitive fishery. Access is provided through commercial licences identified as category “A” licences, category “B” licences (1/3 the number of traps of a Category “A” licence) or partnerships (1.5 times the number of traps of a Category “A” licence). First Nation organizations are provided commercial access through communal commercial licences equivalent to category “A” licences.

There are no aquaculture licences and no recreational fishery is under consideration.

Note that 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.

9. SHARED STEWARDSHIP ARRANGEMENTS

As with other fisheries in Maritimes Region, the advisory committee process is the primary consultation forum for inshore lobster fishery. Committees typically consist of representatives of industry, Aboriginal communities, Provincial governments, community stakeholders, non-governmental organizations, and DFO. Harvester representatives generally include elected port representatives (or an alternate). Advisory committees provide an interface for discussion on issues such as conservation, protection, science, and fisheries management. Many day-to-day management concerns are addressed through the work of these committees. In addition to advisory committees other committees are place to discuss specific matters including science and enforcement, and DFO engages in issue specific consultation, formally and informally, on an on-going basis.

10. COMPLIANCE MANAGEMENT PLAN

10.1 Conservation and Protection (C&P) Program Description

The management of Canadian fisheries requires an integrated approach to monitoring, control and surveillance that involves the deployment of fishery officers to air, sea and land patrols; observer coverage on fishing vessels; dockside monitoring; and remote electronic monitoring.

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

10.2 Regional Compliance Program Delivery

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

The following offers a general description of compliance activities carried out by C&P in the Inshore Lobster Fishery.

10.3 Consultation

Shared stewardship and education are to be achieved in the inshore Lobster Fishery through a renewed emphasis on the importance of C&P communication with the community at large including:

10.4 Compliance Performance

For Maritimes region overall, Fishery Officers dedicate a considerable proportion of the overall enforcement effort to the Inshore Lobster Fishery. For the years 2000 to 2008, lobster enforcement accounted for 32% of officer time and has risen closer to 40% in more recent years. C&P may not always be able to sustain this effort in the face of conservation risks elsewhere.

Officers also record other activities including the violations they detect. A summary of officer time, violations and observer coverage for 2000-2008 appears in Appendix 6.

10.5 Current Compliance Issues

Various indices do not suggest an overall improvement in compliance in the inshore lobster fishery. Extremely harmful practices such as the setting of illegal and unmarked traps in closed areas and retention of undersized or egg-bearing lobsters continue unabated and in some cases appear to be on the increase (Figure 9).

Figure 9: Trends in Lobster Violations – Graphic Depiction
Graphic depiction of trends in Lobster Violations

An apparent trend toward increased fines imposed by the courts offers an encouraging sign of a reduced tolerance for illegal activity. However, rare imposition of licence suspensions by the courts has yet to replace the powerful disincentive to illegal activity represented by the administrative sanctions regime which was struck down by the Federal Court of Appeal in 1996. The risk with reliance on fines as a deterrent is that they sometimes become little more than a cost of doing business and do not offset monetary gains from the illegal activity.

Compliance levels for individual LFAs are difficult to assess due to vast differences in numbers of participants and annual landings. However, it is clear that illegal activity in closed areas or during closed times by persons using unmarked gear is far worse in more southerly areas, notably LFAs 34-36 and 38. The requirement for buoy markings has reduced the fishing of untagged gear during the season by licensed fishermen but it continues to be a problem. Violations statistics also indicate far too frequent abuse of trap tag privileges by licensed lobster harvesters and illegal retention by those who are not licensed.

Whereas C&P statistics suggest a slight drop in the numbers of violations involving retention of undersized or egg bearing lobsters as well as the retention of separated lobster parts, this does not speak to the numbers of illegal lobsters involved. Some cases in recent years involved alarming numbers of undersized or spawning lobsters.

In conclusion, compliance is not where it should be in spite of C&P’s massive enforcement effort. Greater public intolerance of the illegal activity that is still too prevalent in this fishery is needed. A growing trend in recent years to demand seafood products taken in an ecologically sustainable manner is also most welcome. Finally, this fishery illustrates the need for a cooperative approach to compliance from all parties involved by virtue of its size.

10.6 Compliance Strategy

Annual work plans were already mentioned in the section on compliance program delivery. The following table summarises the challenges in this fishery and strategies to address them as described by C&P detachment supervisors.

Compliance Risks Mitigating Strategies
Illegal Use of Gear
  • Exceeding trap limits by otherwise licensed harvesters
  • Unauthorised use of licensed traps by persons other than licence holder (including theft of catch from traps belonging to other harvesters)
  • Abuse of replacement tag privileges
  • Use of untagged/sunken/unmarked traps by persons with and without licences
  • Traps without proper escape mechanisms
  • Improper gear markings including resistance to effort to enforce existing regulations
  • Targeted and random inspections of lobster vessels and gear including at sea or dockside checks
  • Use high tech equipment to monitor illegal activities
  • Dragging operations to remove illegal gear
  • Enforcement meetings with local harvesters to exchange information
  • High visibility enforcement
Closed Area and Time Issues
  • Illegal, unlicensed, unreported closed season/area fisheries
  • Incursions into adjacent, non licensed areas by licensed harvesters
  • Incursions by US vessels
  • Surveillance including stakeouts
  • Use of high tech equipment to track illegal gear
  • Aerial surveillance
  • Joint vessel patrols with the RCMP
  • Sovereignty patrols and flag state enforcement along US boundary
Catch Issues
  • Transport and sale of illegal catches including undersized, egg bearing lobsters etc.
  • Retention of undersized, egg bearing, scrubbed or v-notched lobsters
  • Retention of lobster parts or culls
  • Marketing of lobsters caught for food and ceremonial purposes
  • Illegal Lobster bycatch in groundfish, crab scallop fisheries
  • Transhipments from vessels not licensed to harvest lobster or from unlicensed areas/vessels
  • Intelligence led enforcement
  • Covert operations
  • Use of high tech equipment to track illegal catch
  • Document checks
  • Monitor and inspect buyers including pounds
  • Truck stops and border checks in collaboration with US counterparts
  • Explore partnerships with aboriginal bands to avoid problems with food and ceremonial fisheries
Conflicts Between User Groups
  • Tensions between communities
  • Tensions over placement of traps
  • Tensions between Aboriginal and
  • non- Aboriginal groups
  • Gear conflicts with other sectors
  • Conflict between Canadian and US
  • harvesters
  • Attempt to resolve these issues through dialogue to enable fishery officers to concentrate on other conservation threats
  • Joint enforcement meetings with local harvesters to monitor and manage unrest
  • Proactive communications with aboriginal bands and non aboriginal harvesters
  • Frequent communication and joint operations with US counterparts in Disputed Zone
Others
  • Harmful alteration of habitat
  • Ghost fishing
  • Removal and seizure of illegal gear
  • Constant dialogue with user groups

C&P Statistical Summaries for 2000-2008 are shown in Appendix 4.

11. PERFORMANCE REVIEW

It is crucial to effective management that there be evaluations of the performance of sector plans, or specific elements of them, to determine whether the rules and regulations that were employed are being effective and thus that the strategies in the overall plan are being adequately implemented in that sector. The general plan evaluation will determine whether:

Long-term objectives for the IFMP center on maintaining viability of the stock and existing fleet, promoting shared stewardship and optimizing benefits for participants and local communities. Evaluation criteria include:

The development of a precautionary approach with identification of effective measures will be a major performance indicator.

12. MONITORING

For reviews of performance evaluation and compliance with tactical management measures to be possible, it is necessary to collect the appropriate data that provide information on how well or badly the various features of the plan are performing.

13. PLAN ENHANCEMENT

Three areas for enhancement have been identified as follows:

Efforts to develop a framework for development and implementation of the Precautionary Approach for this fishery are underway. Progress in this regard is expected to advance the efforts to achieve both conservation and socio-economic goals.

Glossary of Terms

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge (ATK): 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

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

By-catch: The unintentional catch of one species when the target is another.
Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE): The amount caught for a given fishing effort. Ex: pounds of lobster per trap haul

Communal Commercial Licence: Licence issued to Aboriginal organizations pursuant to the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations for participation in the general commercial fishery

Conservation Harvesting Plan (CHP): Fishing plans submitted by all gear sectors which identify harvesting methods aimed at minimizing the harvest of small fish and by-catch of groundfish

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

Discards: Portion of a catch thrown back into the water after they are caught in fishing gear.

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

Ecosystem-Based Management: Taking into account of 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

Fixed Gear: A type of fishing gear that is set in a stationary position (includinglobster traps)

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

Landings: Quantity of a species caught and landed

LOMA (Large Ocean Management Area): Integrated management planning in Canada is focused in five high priority LOMAs, these are: Placentia Bay and the Grand Banks, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Scotian Shelf, the Beaufort Sea and the Pacific North Coast

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

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

Observer Coverage: When a licence holder is required to carry an officially recognized observer onboard their 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. Observers may also be used to witness removal of tags and retagging of lobster gear

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

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

Recruitment: Amount of individuals becoming part of the exploitable stock e.g. that can be caught in a fishery

Research Survey: Survey at sea, on a research vessel, allowing scientists to obtain information on the abundance and distribution of various species and/or collect oceanographic data. (i.e. 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

Spawning Stock: Sexually mature individuals in a stock

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

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

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

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

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”

Appendix 1 - Department Contacts – Maritimes Region

Please contact the Maritimes Region Fisheries Management office for more information:
(902) 407-8153 / DFO.MAR-FM-GP.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Appendix 2

Template for Licence Conditions

PURSUANT TO SUBSECTION 22.(1) OF THE FISHERY (GENERAL) REGULATIONS THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS ARE SPECIFIED FOR LOBSTER LICENCE NO. ^LICENCE ISSUED IN RESPECT OF THE FISHING VESSEL ^VNAME, WITH THE VESSEL REGISTRATION NUMBER ^VRN (HEREINAFTER KNOWN AS THE “VESSEL”), AND OPERATED BY ^NAME ONLY.

SEASON, GEAR AND PROHIBITIONS

  1. SUBJECT TO ANY VARIATION ORDERS THAT ARE IN EFFECT OR ANY NEW ONES THAT MAY BE ISSUED THIS LICENCE AUTHORIZE(S) FISHING FOR LOBSTER DURING THE LOBSTER SEASON IN THE WATERS OF LOBSTER FISHING AREA ?? (LFA ??) ONLY. LFA ?? IS DEFINED AS THE WATERS ENCLOSED BY RHUMB LINES (SIMILAR TO STRAIGHT LINES PLOTTED ON A NAUTICAL CHART) JOINING THE FOLLOWING POINTS IN THE ORDER IN WHICH THEY ARE LISTED BELOW:

    POINT NORTH LATITUDE WEST LONGITUDE
    1)
    2)
    3)
    4)
    5)

    NOTE: WHEN THE GEOGRAPHIC BOUNDARY OF AN AREA IS EXPRESSED IN LATITUDE AND LONGITUDE, THOSE POINT REFERENCES ARE BASED ON THE GEODESIC SYSTEM NORTH AMERICAN DATUM 1927 (NAD27).

  2. THE LOBSTER TAGS LISTED IN APPENDIX I - LOBSTER TAG ISSUANCE BY LICENCE, ATTACHED, ARE VALID FOR THE PURPOSE OF FISHING DURING THE LOBSTER SEASON.
  3. EFFECTIVE start date, ^RPYEAR LOBSTER TRAPS THAT HAVE VALID LOBSTER TAGS ARE PERMITTED TO BE STORED ON THE VESSEL AUTHORIZED TO FISH UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THIS LICENCE. PRIOR TO THE OPENING OF THE SEASON, THE VESSEL MUST BE MOORED AND REMAIN MOORED WITHIN THE LEASED BOUNDAREAS OF A HARBOUR THAT IS MANAGED BY AN INCORPORATED HARBOUR AUTHORITY AND APPROVED BY THE HARBOUR AUTHORITY OR IN AN AREA APPROVED BY A FISHERY OFFICER.
  4. NO PERSON SHALL HAVE ON BOARD THE VESSEL OR FISH WITH ANY LOBSTER TRAPS THAT ARE TAGGED WITH LOBSTER TRAP TAGS OTHER THAN THE CURRENT VALID TAGS LISTED IN ATTACHED APPENDIX 1 - LOBSTER TAG ISSUANCE BY LICENCE. ALL NON-VALID TAGS MUST BE REMOVED FROM THE TRAP(S).
  5. NO PERSON SHALL AUTHORIZE ANY PERSON TO FISH WITH, OR HAVE ON BOARD ANY OTHER VESSEL, LOBSTER TRAPS, WHICH ARE TAGGED WITH THE LOBSTER TRAP TAGS ISSUED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS LICENCE. THE LOBSTER TRAP TAGS ISSUED IN CONNECTION WITH THIS LICENCE ARE VALID ONLY IN CONNECTION WITH FISHING OPERATIONS CONDUCTED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THIS LICENCE AND ARE INVALID FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE.
  6. NO PERSON SHALL FISH WITH OR HAVE ON BOARD THE VESSEL A LOBSTER TRAP UNLESS THAT TRAP HAS IN THE EXTERIOR WALLS OF EACH PARLOUR IN THE TRAP AND NOT MORE THAN 250MM FROM THE FLOOR OF EACH TRAP AT LEAST:

    (A) TWO UNOBSTRUCTED CIRCULAR OPENINGS THE DIAMETER OF EACH OF WHICH IS NOT LESS THAN 57.2MM, OR
    (B) ONE UNOBSTRUCTED RECTANGULAR OPENING THE HEIGHT AND WIDTH OF WHICH IS NOT LESS THAN 44MM (HEIGHT) BY 127MM (WIDTH).

INCIDENTAL CATCH

  1. SUBJECT TO ITEM 9, THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO FORTHWITH RETURN ALL INCIDENTALLY CAUGHT FISH INCLUDING FEMALE CRABS OF ALL SPECIES, EXCEPT MALE JONAH CRAB THAT IS 130MM AND GREATER IN LENGTH, GREEN CRAB. MALE ROCK CRAB AND SCULPIN, TO THE WATER AND PLACE FROM WHICH IT WAS TAKEN; AND WHERE IT IS ALIVE, IN A MANNER THAT CAUSES IT THE LEAST HARM.
  2. NO PERSON SHALL CATCH AND RETAIN OR POSSESS, IN LOBSTER FISHING AREA ??, ANY FEMALE LOBSTER WITH AN IMPRESSION (WITH OR WITHOUT SETAL HAIRS) ON THE OUTSIDE EDGE OF THE RIGHT FLIPPER (UROPOD) NEXT TO THE MIDDLE FLIPPER (TELSON) THAT AFFECTS THE NATURAL SHAPE OF THAT FLIPPER WOULD BE AN ILLEGAL LOBSTER. THE NATURAL SHAPE OF THE FLIPPER WOULD ALSO BE ALTERED WITH THE REMOVAL OF ALL OR THE OUTSIDE PORTION OF THE RIGHT FLIPPER. THE RIGHT FLIPPER SHALL BE DETERMINED WHEN THE UNDERSIDE OF THE LOBSTER IS DOWN AND ITS TAIL IS TOWARD THE PERSON MAKING THE DETERMINATION.

REPORTING REQUIREMENTS

  1. WHEN RETAINING MALE ROCK AND/OR MALE JONAH CRAB FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN BAIT FOR PERSONAL USE, THE LICENCE HOLDER IS REQUIRED TO FOLLOW THE REPORTING REQUIREMENTS DESCRIBED IN THE ATTACHED SCHEDULE I.
  2. (A) SUBJECT TO ITEMS 10(B) AND 10(C) AND PURSUANT TO SECTION 61 OF THE FISHERIES ACT THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE INFORMATION REGARDING THEIR LOBSTER ACTIVITIES IN THE LOBSTER CATCH AND SETTLEMENT REPORT - LOBSTER FISHING AREAS 27 TO 38 (JANUARY/2010) AVAILABLE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS FURTHER REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE DOCUMENT IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS SUPPLIED WITH THE LOBSTER CATCH AND SETTLEMENT REPORT - LOBSTER FISHING AREAS 27 TO 38 (JANUARY/2010), INCLUDING ANY OTHER INSTRUCTIONS CONTAINED WITHIN THIS LICENCE CONDITION. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS FURTHER REQUIRED TO SUPPLY A COPY OF THE REPORT WITHIN 15 DAYS AFTER THE END OF EACH MONTH OF THE LOBSTER FISHING SEASON WHETHER OR NOT A FISHING TRIP(S) IS COMPLETED, TO A DOCKSIDE MONITORING COMPANY DESIGNATED BY THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE MARITIMES REGION. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ANY DOCUMENTS REQUESTED BY A FISHERY OFFICER IMMEDIATELY UPON DEMAND.

    10. (B) THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE SECTION “ESTIMATED LOBSTER LANDINGS” IN THE CATCH & SETTLEMENT REPORT LOBSTER FISHING AREAS 27 TO 38 (JANUARY/2010), DAILY ON BOARD THEIR VESSEL AND PRIOR TO OFFLOADING ANY CATCH TAKEN ON ANY DAY DURING THE SEASON.

    10. © THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO ENTER A MAP GRID NUMBER IN THE SECTION “ESTIMATED LOBSTER LANDINGS” IN THE LOBSTER CATCH & SETTLEMENT REPORT- LOBSTER FISHING AREAS 27 TO 38 (JANUARY/2010). MAPS WITH AUTHORIZED GRID NUMBERS ARE AVAILABLBE FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF FISHERIES & OCEANS. IN LOBSTER FISHING AREA 35 ONLY MAPS TITLED “LFA??/ZPH??” ARE AUTHORIZED FOR USE TO COMPLETE THIS SECTION OF THE CATCH AND SETTLEMENT REPORT.

SPECIES AT RISK

  1. IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RECOVERY STRATEGY FOR THE LEATHERBACK TURTLE (DERMOCHELYS CORIACEA) IN ATLANTIC CANADA,

    AND

    IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE RECOVERY STRATEGY FOR THE NORTHERN WOLFFISH (ANARHICHAS DENTICULATUS) AND SPOTTED WOLFFISH (ANARHICHAS MINOR) IN ATLANTIC CANADA,
    THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS PERMITTED TO CARRY OUT COMMERCIAL FISHING ACTIVITIES AUTHORIZED UNDER THE FISHERIES ACT THAT MAY INCIDENTALLY KILL, HARM, HARASS, CAPTURE OR TAKE THE LEATHERBACK TURTLE, NORTHERN WOLFFISH OR THE SPOTTED WOLFFISH, AS PER SUBSECTION 83(4) OF THE SPECIES AT RISK ACT (SARA).

    THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS APPLY:

    1. THIS PERMISSION IS ONLY VALID WHILE FISHING IS CONDUCTED UNDER THIS LICENCE ISSUED TO THE LICENCE HOLDER UNDER THE FISHERIES ACT IN ALL AUTHORIZED WATERS UNDER THIS LICENCE.
    2. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO ENSURE THAT, WHILE THE FISHING ACTIVES ARE CONDUCTED, EVERY PERSON ON BOARD THE VESSEL WHO INCIDENTALLY CATCHES A LEATHERBACK TURTLE, NORTHERN WOLFFISH OR A SPOTTED WOLFFISH FORTHWITH RETURNS IT TO THE PLACE IT WAS TAKEN, AND WHERE IT IS ALIVE, IN A MANNER THAT CAUSES IT THE LEAST HARM.
    3. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO PROVIDE INFORMATION REGARDING INTERACTIONS WITH SPECIES AT RISK (I.E. NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALES (EUBALAENA GLACIALIS)) WHILE CONDUCTING FISHING OPERATIONS IN THE SARA MONITORING DOCUMENT (SAR (MAR2006) AVAILABLE FROM FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE DOCUMENT PURSUANT TO THE INSTRUCTIONS CONTAINED WITH THE DOCUMENT.
    4. THE SARA MONITORING DOCUMENT (SAR (MAR2006) MUST BE SUBMITTED TO A MARITIMES REGION DOCKSIDE MONITORING COMPANY AT THE END OF THE FISHING SEASON WHETHER OR NOT SPECIES AT RISK ARE CAUGHT.

GENERAL

  1. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR UNDERSTANDS AND ACKNOWLEDGES THIS LICENCE AND CONDITIONS ISSUED.
  2. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR REQUESTED AND RECEIVED THIS LICENCE AND CONDITIONS IN ENGLISH.
  3. NO PERSON SHALL ENGAGE IN RECREATIONAL FISHING OF ANY KIND WHILE FISHING COMMERCIALLY FOR LOBSTER UNDER THIS LICENCE.
  4. THIS LICENCE AND CONDITIONS CANCELS AND REPLACES ANY PREVIOUS LICENCE AND CONDITIONS ISSUED FOR THIS LICENCE.

    FOR INFORMATION REGARDING OPEN OR CLOSED AREAS TO FISHING, VARIATION ORDERS OR CLARIFICATION OF THESE LICENCE CONDITIONS, CONTACT THE LOCAL FISHERY OFFICER.

SCHEDULE I

DMP REQUIREMENTS FOR ROCK AND JONAH CRAB

  1. WHEN FISHING AND RETAINING MALE ROCK AND/OR JONAH CRAB FOR ANY PURPOSE OTHER THAN BAIT FOR PERSONAL USE, THE LICENCE HOLDER IS REQUIRED TO COMPLETE THE CRAB MONITORING DOCUMENT (CRAB 2002-12) IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE INSTRUCTIONS IN THE CRAB MONITORING DOCUMENT (CRAB 2002-12) ON THE VESSEL PRIOR TO RETURNING TO PORT. THE LICENCE HOLDER IS REQUIRED TO SUPPLY A DOCKSIDE MONITORING COMPANY THAT HAS BEEN DESIGNATED BY THE REGIONAL DIRECTOR-GENERAL OF THE MARITIMES REGION WITH A COPY OF THE REPORT WITHIN 15 DAYS AFTER THE END OF EACH MONTH OF THE LOBSTER FISHING SEASON. THE LICENCE HOLDER IS ALSO REQUIRED TO PROVIDE ANY DOCUMENTS REQUESTED BY A FISHERY OFFICER IMMEDIATELY UPON DEMAND.

PLEASE NOTE: FOR INFORMATION REGARDING AREAS OPEN OR CLOSED TO FISHING, VARIATION ORDERS, OR CLARIFICATION OF ANY OF THE CONDITIONS CONTAINED HEREIN, THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR MUST CONTACT A LOCAL FISHERY OFFICER. THE LICENCE HOLDER/OPERATOR IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ADHERING TO THE PROVISIONS WITHIN THE LICENCE AND THESE CONDITIONS. DOCKSIDE MONITORING COMPANIES (DMC) AND DMC OBSERVERS ARE NOT AGENTS OF FISHERIES AND OCEANS CANADA AND ARE NOT AUTHORIZED TO PROVIDE ANY INFORMATION TO FISHERS, TO MAKE INTERPRETATIONS FOR FISHERS OF ANY OF THE LICENCE CONDITIONS, NOR TO AUTHORIZE FOR FISHERS WHEN OFFLOADING CAN OCCUR.

Appendix 3

Voluntary standard practices for the lobster fishery to reduce excess line in the water column for the protection of North Atlantic Right Whales

Fishermen of Lobster Fishing Areas (LFA) 33 and 34 are committed to reducing the probability of entangling North Atlantic Right Whales in their lobster gear. We recognize that many of our current fishing practices probably reduce the risk of whale entanglements if they are done correctly. This document outlines how we should operate to minimize further risk of entangling right whales. The premise behind these recommendations is to minimize the amount of rope in the water column either by reducing the amount of line being used or by ensuring that gear is well set and has a low profile in the water column.

Working assumptions

Fishermen recognized that entanglements are clearly a threat to right whales, but there are a number of concepts to be kept in mind:

Principles

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

Standard practices

Following are the practices being adopted by fishermen in LFA 33 and 34 in order to ensure all lobster fishing in this area is done in a relatively standard manner that maintains a relatively low probability of entangling right whales.

  1. Gear

    Some operations may require longer lengths than recommended here, but the overall goal should be to keep lines as short as possible. Where possible, length of lines should be shorter than those recommended here.

    Maximum lengths of lines:

    Endlines – no more than twice the depth
    Trail lines – no more than 8 fathoms in length
    Gangions – no more than 1 fathom

  2. Operational practices
    • As you fish in deeper water, use longer trawls (avoid using singles, doubles, or triples in water deeper than 20 fathoms).
    • When moving trawls inshore, endlines should be shortened.
    • Trawls should be set in the same direction as the running tide to ensure traps are well spread out (and groundlines are as low as possible).
    • When settling trawls near slack tide, increasing your speed will keep groundlines lower.
    • Use less engine speed when the tide is running strong because this will spread traps apart better.
  3. Management
    • Avoid setting or retrieving gear when there is a whale in the area.
    • Share information about any whales that are seen in your area with other fishermen.
    • If you have reports of a whale moving towards your gear, relocate your gear before the whale reaches it.
    • If you see an entangled whale, call 1-866-567-6277 and remain in the area.
  4. Other Activities
    LFA 33 and 34 will identify fishermen from their areas who are willing:
    • To assist in identifying gear removed from entangled whales;
    • To be trained in safe disentanglement practices;
    • To participate in testing new gear or fishing practices.

Final statement – Next Steps

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

This document was prepared in cooperation with WWF-Canada and with financial support from the Government of Canada Habitat Stewardship Program for Species at Risk.

Appendix 4 - C&P Statistical Summary for 2000-2008

LOBSTER ENFORCEMENT HOURS BY CALENDAR YEAR
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
24990 34967 36756 31357 28665 38254 43070 39621 43806
% OF OVERALL ENFORCENT EFFORT DEDICATED TO LOBSTER
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
23% 27% 30% 28% 29% 34% 42% 37% 39%

Note: Effort is the number of hours for which fishery officers recorded they were engaged in inshore lobster enforcement activities

At-Sea Observer Coverage
2006 2007 2008
43 trips 41 trips 75 trips

Note: Observer coverage was mostly to oversee tag replacements at sea and trap transportation

Compliance Index – Numbers of Violations Divided by Vessels, Vehicles and Persons Checked
Year 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
# Checks 15566 16948 16285 12456 13289 16724 15969 14881
# Violations 300 684 548 378 819 862 469 617
Compliance Index 1.9% 4.03% 2.37% 3.03% 6.16% 5.15% 2.94% 4.15%

Note: This index is derived from the Fishery Officer time tracking system. Violations include all violations observed by officers and not just those that resulted in an apprehension (may differ from those presented below). Data for 2000 was incomplete and is not shown here.

VIOLATIONS BY LFA - 2000 TO 2008
LOBSTER FISHING AREA 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 TOTAL
UNIDENTIFIED           8       8
LFA 27 7 1 15 18 23 17 27 11 12 131
LFA 28       4         3 7
LFA 29 2 1 10 4 5 13   4 9 48
LFA 30             6   6 12
LFA 31A 6   1   1 1 4 10 2 25
LFA 31B 6 14 2 2 1 2 3 10 10 50
LFA 32 3   4 4 3   1 4 3 22
LFA 33 62 25 50 70 34 89 146 58 96 630
LFA 34 142 110 144 130 104 164 161 181 140 1276
LFA 35 2 14 8 2 22 3 14 14 5 84
LFA 36 1 28 46 29 28 151 43 27 26 379
LFA 37   3               3
LFA 38 13 28 44 23 85 191 70 29 52 535
LFA 38B (DISPUTED ZONE)           3 7   1 11
LFA 40                    
LFA 41             7 1   8

Notes:

In some cases, the LFA is the one in which the detachment that detected the violation is located

Large numbers in LFAs 36 and 38 in 2005 and 2006 reflect numerous seizures of untagged traps (some recording problems persist)

LFA 41 violations are instances where vessels licensed for other areas strayed into this LFA

LOBSTER VIOLATIONS BY ACTIONS TAKEN - 2000 TO 2008
DISPOSITION 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 TOTAL
CHARGES LAID 166 110 119 127 197 255 259 162 112 1507
NO FURTHER ACTION OR STILL PENDING 25 17 52 43 35 179 89 62 79 581
ABORIGINAL PROTOCOL   7 3   1 18 13     42
SEIZURE(S) - PERSONS UNKNOWN 18 42 50 52 33 131 54 38 61 479
TICKET ISSUED 4 6 3     1 3 1 1 19
WARNING ISSUED 31 42 97 64 40 58 71 86 112 601
TOTAL 244 224 324 286 306 642 489 349 365 3229
LOBSTER CONVICTIONS - 2000 TO 2008
DISPOSITION 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 TOTAL
CASES THAT RESULTED IN FINES 80 58 71 66 94 126 104 73 48 720

Note: Some 2008 cases are still before the courts. Numerous others were withdrawn as part of plea bargains

SUMMARY OF FINES IMPOSED BY COURTS FOR LOBSTER OFFENCES - 2000 TO 2008
Fine  2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
Min. 100.00 $50.00 $50.00 $100.00 $100.00 $100.00 $1.00 150.00 $100.00
Max. 10,000 5,000 10,000 $25,000 $15,000 $12,500 23,000 30,000 $60,000
Avg. $2,177 $1,461 $2,246 $ 2,498 $ 1,668 $ 2,139 $3,200 $ 2,690 $3,458
NUMBERS OF LOBSTER CONVICTIONS CASES ACCORDING TO RANGE OF FINES
  2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
<$100   1 1       2    
$100 to $499 11 8 16 10 31 21 5 7 4
$500 to $999 11 13 7 7 12 9 11 2 3
$1K to $2.499K 33 21 22 27 35 54 47 48 29
$2.5K to $4.999K 12 13 13 13 8 29 23 9 8
$5K to $9.999K 10 2 9 8 6 9 9 3 1
$10K to $24.999K 3   3   2 4 7 3 2
≥$25K       1       1 1
LOBSTER VIOLATION ISSUES 2000-2008
ISSUE 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 Total
Catch Reporting Problem 0 23 0 8 0 1 6 10 28 76
Closed Area 26 58 56 48 62 289 69 78 67 753
Communal Licence Offence 29 3 1 3 3 52 22 4 21 138
Crab Bycatch Problem 2 0 14 12 5 7 27 13 20 100
Egg Bearing, Scrubbed Or V-Notch 2 6 20 33 23 16 49 20 28 197
Escape Panel Problem 6 0 3 2 1 1 0 2 3 18
Foreign Vessels Or Traps 1 4 10 2 0 2 9 3 1 32
Illegal Gear 5 10 3 3 9 8 17 6 5 66
Illegal Possession Of Lobster 5 15 54 62 62 51 70 65 46 430
Licence Or Registration Problem 43 27 48 25 58 82 57 37 27 404
Obstruction/False Statement 36 5 16 4 9 20 26 11 12 139
Other 0 0 2 0 1 1 3 2 2 11
Separated Claws, Meats Or Tails 7 0 9 8 1 5 14 3 1 48
Trap Tag Issues 49 35 31 21 23 32 37 28 41 297
Unattended Gear 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 0 4
Unauthorised Trap Transportation 0 2 0 0 3 0 2 1 2 10
Undersized Lobsters 33 36 52 50 42 70 80 63 57 483
Vessel / Gear Marking 0 0 5 3 4 3 1 3 4 23
Total 244 224 324 286 306 642 489 349 365 3229
ISSUE DEVIATION FROM MEAN FOR LAST THREE YEARS
CATCH REPORTING PROBLEM -1.57%
CLOSED AREA 5.05%
COMMUNAL LICENCE OFFENCE 0.47%
CRAB BYCATCH PROBLEM -1.81%
EGG BEARING, SCRUBBED OR V-NOTCH -1.71%
ESCAPE PANEL PROBLEM 0.09%
FOREIGN VESSELS OR TRAPS 0.00%
ILLEGAL GEAR -0.14%
ILLEGAL POSSESSION OF LOBSTER -1.86%
LICENCE OR REGISTRATION PROBLEM 2.63%
OBSTRUCTION/FALSE STATEMENT 0.39%
OTHER -0.24%
SEPARATED CLAWS, MEATS OR TAILS 0.15%
TRAP TAG ISSUES 0.26%
UNATTENDED GEAR 0.12%
UNAUTHORISED TRAP TRANSPORTATION -0.10%
UNDERSIZED LOBSTERS -1.72%
VESSEL OR GEAR MARKING -0.01%

Note: The above attempts to assess the trend for potentially harmful conservation issues based on numbers of violations. The mean was calculated based on the percentage of all violations from 2000 to 2008 represented by each issue. Then the percentage for the three most recent years was subtracted to determine the trend. Numbers in red indicate a worsening in the 2006-2008 period.