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Sea Cucumber Newfoundland and Labrador Region 3Ps


image of sea cucumber

Sea cucumber
(Cucumaria frondosa)

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

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

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

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

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

Jacqueline Perry
Regional Director General
Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Table of Contents

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

1. Overview of the fishery

1.1. History of the fishery

In 2003 Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) publically solicited applications from harvesters in NAFO sub-Division 3Ps wishing to participate in a resource assessment of the Sea cucumber resources in 3Ps under the DFO’s Emerging Fisheries Policy. An exploratory fishery and resource survey were conducted over a five year period to gather sufficient data to delineate Sea cucumber distribution on the St. Pierre Bank, develop a biomass estimate and evaluate the potential of a commercial fishery. Eight exploratory licences were issued to inshore fish harvesters during this developmental phase.

In 2012, DFO approved the transition of the fishery from emerging to commercial status. The Total Allowable Catch (TAC) was set at 2,242 tonnes (t) and nineteen new commercial fishing licences were issued: eight to the exploratory licence holders, one to the Miawpukek First Nation (MFN), plus an additional ten licences issued from a list of eligible applicants developed through a public draw process. These eleven licence holders were required to gear-up by May 2013 and hold the licence for a minimum of two years before being eligible for reissuance. Each licence holder was permitted to harvest 118 t annually.

There are two main concentrations of Sea cucumber in the Canadian portion of the St. Pierre Bank, one northwest and one southeast of the French Economic Zone. The northwest zone is delineated as the Western Bed and the southeast zone is described as the Eastern Bed. The quota of 2,242 t set in 2012 was only for the Western Bed. The Eastern Bed was closed to fishing as a conservation measure to conserve the stock until the effects of fishing could be assessed.

In 2017, in consideration of science advice and input from stakeholders, DFO approved a quota of 3,773 t for the Eastern Bed, bringing the total TAC to 6,016 t. The quota for the Western Bed remained at 2,242 t. with significant reductions in the Snow crab quota, and poor catches of Cod resulted in 3Ps fish harvesters experiencing substantial economic challenges. Therefore, the additional access to the Eastern Bed was provided to harvesters through the issuance of an additional 32 temporary permits. Two of the temporary permits were issued to the MFN and the remaining 30 were issued to inshore fish harvesters based in 3Ps. The Department requested experssions of interest from harvesters and developed an eligibility list through a random draw process in 2017. Harvesters selected were required to meet a number of gear up and participation requirements in order to retain their permit in the subsequent year. The harvesting catch per licence, for both the Eastern and Western Beds, was 118 t.

In 2018, DFO announced 1,000 t would be added in the Eastern Bed in 2019 for a total quota of 4,773 t, and a total overall TAC of 7,016 t. With the additional quota an additional eight temporary permits were approved. Two issued to the MFN and six to inshore harvesters selected from the 2017 eligibilty list. Participation requirements and gear up would be the same as in 2017.

1.2. Types of fishing

The Sea cucumber fishery is mainly a commercial fishery. Access is also available for scientific and/or educational purposes. A recreational Sea cucumber fishery is not authorized in Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) Region, nor is there a Indigenous Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) fishery for Sea cucumber.

1.3. Participants

There are 19 commercial Sea cucumber licences in the Western Cucumber Bed. There are 40 temporary permits for the Eastern Cucumber Area; including two commercial and four temporary permits issued to the MFN.

1.4. Location of the fishery

The fishery takes place in NAFO sub-Division 3Ps of the south coast of the island of Newfoundland. The fishery is divided between the Western Bed and the Eastern Bed (See Appendix 3). Licence and Permit holders are only authorized to fish one bed.

1.5. Fishery characteristics

The Sea cucumber fishery is managed by a TAC with individual licence holders limited to catch 118 t. Each licence is permitted to use one Sea cucumber drag. The fishing season is from June 1 to December 31. Harvesters are required to complete and submit logbooks, 100% Dockside Monitoring of all landings and use a Vessel Monitoring System. Fish harvesters in either the less than 40’ fleet or in the 40’ and greater fleet are eligible for this fishery.

1.6. Governance

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

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

1.7. Approval process

This Integrated Fisheries Management Plan for 3Ps Sea cucumber is approved by the Regional Director General, Newfoundland and Labrador. Issues that arise will be addressed through consultative processes. Any changes to management measures are tabled by DFO officials at the advisory meeting.

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

2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

See Appendix 1 for the 2016 stock assessment of the Sea cucumber resource on the St. Pierre Bank (NAFO Subdivision 3Ps).

2.1. Biological characteristics

The Orange Footed Sea cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) is an echinoderm found in the North Atlantic and Arctic oceans. It is commonly distributed down to 100m in Newfoundland and Labrador waters, and prefers rocky bottoms or mixed substrates of gravels, stone, sand, and shells. It has five rows of tube feet which allow it to move and attach to substrates. Sea cucumber feed on phytoplankton and zooplankton by spreading out their tentacles, which capture plankton suspended in the water column or organic matter on nearby substrate. The tentacles are covered with sticky mucus, which aids in food capture. Each tentacle is retracted individually into the Sea cucumber’s mouth, where the plankton is consumed (Singh et al. 1999). Adult Sea cucumber are believed to exhibit low rates of movement (DFO 2009). Sea cucumber gather in aggregations known as “beds”, which allows a certain level of reproductive success, as this species achieves external fertilization.

There is limited information on the life history of Sea cucumber specific to the St. Pierre Bank. The majority of literature reported on this species in Eastern Canada was obtained from studies in the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as from tank experiments using Sea cucumber collected from Newfoundland and Labrador waters (Coady 1973; Hamel and Mercier 1995; Hamel and Mercier 1996a; Hamel and Mercier 1996b; Hamel and Mercier 1996c; Hamel and Mercier 1998; Singh et al. 1999; Singh et al. 2001). Sea cucumber studies conducted on the St. Pierre Bank (Grant et al. 2006; So 2009), indicate spawning occurs from late March to early May. This is similar to the Bay of Fundy (April-May) and Maine (March-April), but is earlier than in the St. Lawrence Estuary (mid-June) (Hamel and Mercier 1996). It appears that the Sea cucumber population on the St. Pierre Bank is comprised of several subpopulations that spawn at different times which results in a protracted spawning season (Grant et al. 2006). Sea cucumber have separate sexes and are sexually dimorphic with a conspicuous, tube-shaped (female) or heart-shaped (male) gonopore located under the crown of oral tentacles (Hamel and Mercier 1996a). After massive spawning events, fertilized eggs occur in high densities in the water column, undergo pelagic lecithotrophic development, and settle out of the water column after approximately four to seven weeks. Size at sexual maturity for Sea cucumber on the St. Pierre Bank is ~9-11 cm contracted length (Grant et al. 2006). Growth rates of juveniles and adults are slow with seasonal patterns correlated with food supply (So 2009). Laboratory and field observations indicate that feeding rate is related to food abundance as detected by the oral tentacles, which contain chemosensory and mechanosensory cells.

2.2. Ecosystem interactions

The key predators of Sea cucumber include fishes, sea stars, and crustaceans, with sea stars being the dominant predators in North Atlantic waters. Solaster endeca, the Purple sunstar, is the main predator of Sea cucumber at all life stages.

2.3. Indigenous traditional knowledge

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

2.4. Stock assessment process

Sea cucumber assessments are conducted periodically and peer-reviewed through the Regional Assessment Process (RAP) coordinated by the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS). The conclusions and management advice are available to the public through Stock Advisory Reports (SAR), Research Documents and meeting proceedings published on the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) website.

The stock status of Sea cucumber in 3Ps is assessed using indicators based on fishery-independent DFO research vessel Sea cucumber drag surveys and fishery-dependent data from DFO official catch statistics and commercial logbooks.

The target for DFO Sea cucumber surveys on the St. Pierre Bank is every 4 years, unless there is a special request. The survey has a random stratified sampling design and collects the following data:

Trends in the following indicators are used to determine stock status:

2.5. Stock scenarios or stock assessments results

The most recent stock assessment results are from a Science Response Process in 2018. This assessment was requested due to an incomplete DFO Sea cucumber survey in 2016 with results presented in a Regional Assessment Process in 2017. An additional DFO Sea cucumber survey was conducted in 2017 to supplement the 2016 survey.The two Sea cucumber fishing areas of the St. Pierre Bank are assessed separately as they are managed separately and harvesters only have access to one or the other Sea cucumber area.

The full TAC on the Western Bed was taken in 2015 and 2016. The full TAC was not taken in the Eastern Cucumber area in 2017 which was the first year this area was opened to fishing. Commercial CPUE has remained relatively stable since the completion of the emerging fishery process in 2008. Survey CPUE was highest in the Eastern Cucumber area and the northwestern portion of the Western Cucumber area during the emerging fishery process as well as in the 2016 and 2017 DFO Sea cucumber surveys. The biomass index estimates for the Eastern Cucumber area are consistantly higher than the Western Cucumber area in all years surveyed. The most recent estimates (2016 survey results for the Eastern area and a combination of 2016 and 2017 survey results for the Western area) indicate a decrease in biomass in both areas compared to the 2004-08 emerging fishery average. The abundance index estimates for the Eastern Cucumber area are consistantly higher than the Western Cucumber area in all years surveyed. The most recent estimates indicate an increase in abundance in both areas compared to the 2004-08 emerging fishery average, with the abundance estimate in the Eastern Cucumber area in 2016 being the highest in the time series. Biometric data from the 2016 and 2017 surveys indicate a trend towards larger and heavier Sea cucumber in the Western Cucumber area. Bycatch comprised 33% of the total catch from the 2016 and 2017 surveys, with the most prominent bycatch species being Sea urchin (Strongylocentrotus droebachiensis) and Sand dollar (Echinarachnius parma).

Caution should be taken when interpreting the indicators of stock status for the St. Pierre Bank Sea cucumber due to sources of uncertainty. There is limited information on the life history of Sea cucumber specific to the St. Pierre Bank, particularly with respect to age at maturity, recruitment processes, natural mortality, and the connectivity between the Western and Eastern Cucumber areas. The consequences of the harvesting method and removals on ecosystem structure and function are unknown.

2.6. Precautionary approach

The Precautionary Approach (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 or fail to take action to avoid serious harm to fish stocks or their ecosystems. This approach is widely accepted as an essential part of sustainable fisheries management. Applying the Precautionary Approach to fisheries management decisions entails establishing a harvest strategy that:

There is no Precautionary Approach Framework for Sea cucumber in 3Ps.

2.7. Research

A primary goal of the DFO Science branch is to provide high quality knowledge, products and scientific advice on Canadian aquatic ecosystems and living resources, with a vision of safe, healthy, productive waters and aquatic ecosystems. DFO conducts research activities both independently and in collaboration with other organizations.

3. Economic, social and cultural importance of the fishery

3.1. Socio-economic profile

In 2018, approximately 50 Sea cucumber licences/temporary permits were issued and virtually all were active (i.e. had recorded Sea cucumber sales).

For enterprises with Sea cucumber landings in 2018, Sea cucumber and Snow crab accounted for about 44% and 39% respectively of the total landed value of all species harvested. Cod, halibut, scallop and other species comprised the remaining 17%.

3.2. Viability and market trends

Sea cucumber is primarily harvested by vessels less than 65 feet. Of the 49 active enterprises in 2018, 14 were in the <40 foot fleet and 35 were in the >40 foot fleet.

Since 2014, Sea cucumber catch in NAFO Division 3Ps has increased considerably, from approximately 936t to just over 5,500t in 2018 (preliminary) (Figure 1). This, combined with an increase in the average landed price for Sea cucumber (Figure 2), has resulted in a significant increase in the annual landed value of this fishery, from about $722K in 2014 to slightly more than $6M in 2018 (preliminary).

Graphic total 3Ps Sea Cucumber Catch (t) and Landed Value ($M). 2018p is premilimary data.Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision

Figure 1: Total 3Ps Sea Cucumber Catch (t) and Landed Value ($M). 2018p is premilimary data.Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Year Tonnes Landed value
2014 936 $722,164
2015 2,297 $2,213,193
2016 2,239 $2,448,049
2017 3,707 $4,069,491
2018p 5,543 $6,085,251
Graphic of sea Cucumber Landed Price (Average $/lb) – NL Region. 2018p is premilimary data. Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region

Figure 2: Sea Cucumber Landed Price (Average $/lb) – NL Region. 2018p is premilimary data. Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region

Year $/lb
2014 $0.35
2015 $0.46
2016 $0.48
2017 $0.50
2018p $0.57

According to Statistics Canada data, in 2017, frozen Sea cucumber exports from NL had a total export value of approximately $1.1 million. Three countries, Thailand, China and Hong Kong accounted for 45%, 31% and 24% respectively of Newfoundland and Labrador’s total Sea cucumber export value.

4. Management issues

4.1. Fisheries Issues

4.1.1. Science Uncertainity

Limited scientfic information on factors such as sustainable exploitation rates, mortality, impact of fishery on benthic ecosystems etc., (see section 2.0) is an issue for the fishery and concerns have been raised by industry.

4.1.2. Vessel size

Safety at sea is a paramount consideration for DFO, there has been significant consultation on the issue. There has been discussion on the use of <40’ vessels in the Sea cucmber fishery. Based on the input of harvesters and their representatives, both the <40’ fleet, and the >40’ fleet are permitted to access the fishery. For more information of Safety at Sea, see Appendix 5.

4.2. Habitat considerations

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

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

More information on projects near water available here.

4.3. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

Seven AIS have been identified as present in various parts of NL coastal waters. These include European green crab, three species of tunicates (vase, goldenstar, and violet), coffin box bryozoan, Japanese skeleton shrimp, and oyster thief. In 3Ps specifically, all species are present in parts of the coastal regions but are not present all throughout. Several of these species can be detrimental to commercial fish habitat as they can displace kelp beds and seagrasses, among other effects. Because the species are not distributed all throughout NL coastal areas, it is extremely important to prevent their spread and movement to new locations within 3Ps and other NAFO divisions.

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

More information and maps of aquatic invasive species in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found in the Identify an Aquatic Invasive Species section. Presence/absence maps of all species found in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found on this website.

4.4. International issues

In August 2016, National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) published a final rule (81 FR 54390; August 15, 2016) implementing the fish and fish product import provisions (section 101(a)(2)) of the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). This rule established conditions for evaluating a harvesting nation's regulatory programs to address incidental and intentional mortality and serious injury of marine mammals in fisheries operated by nations that export fish and fish products to the United States (U.S).

Under this rule, fish or fish products cannot be imported into the U.S. from commercial fishing operations, which result in the incidental mortality or serious injury of marine mammals in excess of U.S. standards.

The U.S. requires Canadian commercial fishery bycatch numbers for comparability findings. If the findings show that Canadian fishing operations are equal/on par with U.S. standards, then Canadian fisheries can continue to export their goods to the U.S.

Canada must meet these standards by December 31, 2021 or we can no longer export fish that do not meet the standards to the U.S. 

5. Objectives

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

5.1. Conservation and sustainable harvest

Conservation and the long-term sustainability of the Sea cucumber stock is an important objective for DFO. It is vital that the stock grow and provide benefits for all stakeholders in the short and long-term. DFO will work with all stakeholders to ensure this objective is achieved and that the Sea cucumber stock supports an economically viable and self-reliant fishery. Specifically:

5.2. Ecosystem health and sustainability

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

5.3. Stewardship

Shared stewardship recognizes that industry participants and all stakeholders become involved in fisheries management policy development and the decision-making process. It also recognizes that achievement of the conservation objective requires that governments, resource users, and other stakeholders share responsibility for the implementation of fisheries management decisions and outcomes. The objectives for Stewardship for the Sea cucumber fishery are:

6. Access and allocation

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

There are currently 19 commercial licences for the Western Bed Area and 40 temporary permits for the Eastern Bed. Participation is restricted to existing 3Ps Sea cucumber licence holders and fish harvesters who are issued a temporary permit.

6.1. Quotas and allocations

The Sea cucumber fishery in 3Ps is made up of two distinct fishing areas, Western Bed and the Eastern Bed. The Western Bed has a quota of 2,242 t while the Eastern Bed has a quota of 4,773 t, for a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 7,016 t. See Appendix 2 for historic allocations and landings.

6.2. Communal commercial fisheries

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

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

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

The MFN has access to the 3Ps Sea cucumber fishery with two commercial licences and four temporary permits.

6.3. Licencing

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

The Fisheries Licensing Policy provides details on the various licensing policies that govern the commercial fishing industry in Newfoundland and Labrador Region, including species-specific policies applicable to the Sea cucumber fishery. DFO Resource Management should be consulted for all purposes of interpreting and applying this document.

6.3.1. Temporary permits

No new commercial licences are available in NAFO sub-Division 3Ps. However in 2017 and 2018, new temporary permits were issued through an eligibility list that was established through an expression interest and draw process. The eligibility list is valid until July 31, 2022.

Inshore harvesters offered a new temporary permit have eleven months to gear up.  Gear up is defined as the gear is installed on the vessel and in working order.  This shall be verified by a fishery officer.  If gear up does not occur by the deadline the harvester will become ineligible and an offer will be made to the next fish harvester on the eligibility list.

The new Sea cucumber temporary permits have a participation requirement.  In order for the fish harvester to be eligible for a permit in a subsequent year, the harvester must have had at least five trips and/or landed 50% of their harvest cap (130,000 lbs).  The permit holders have one year after the gear up requirement year to meet the annual participation requirement. DFO will consider market issues when evaluating participation.  Vessel leasing is not permitted, and the temperorary permits are non-transferable.

7. Management measures for the duration of the plan

7.1. Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

Scientific advice and assessments are the basis for the determination of the TAC. The TAC for Sea cucumber is determined when new science advice is available. The TAC is the total Sea cucumber that is permitted to be caught for that year. The latest TAC announcement can be found here. The table can be found in Appendix 2.

7.1.1. Harvest cap

The TAC is divided into equal harvest caps for all licence holders. A harvesting cap is a maximum quantity of Sea cucumber that each licence holder can harvest annually. Sharing of the TAC provides an opportunity for each licence holder to participate in the fishery at their own discretion, removing the competitive nature of fishing. The maximum amount of Sea cucumber authorized to be harvested in 2019, per licence holder, is 118 t (260,000 lbs) round weight.

7.2. Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation is the process of automatically deducting inadvertent quota overruns on a one-for-one basis from one year to the next, with the licence holder paying for the full allocation, and fishing only that portion remaining following adjustments for previous year’s overruns. This procedure will be applied to all sectors participating in the Sea cucumber fishery. Current year quota overruns are reconciled prior to the start of the subsequent fishing season.

Quota reconciliation is not a penalty or sanction; it is an accounting of overruns to ensure that quotas are respected. Licence holders will not be charged for exceeding quotas, as this will no longer be considered a violation of licence conditions. However, DFO will close fisheries when established quotas are reached or projected to be reached. Those who continue to fish after the closure may be subject to enforcement action.

7.3. Fishing seasons

The Sea cucumber fishing season is June 1 to December 31. The season dates attempt to avoid the spawning period for Sea cucumber which is late March to early May.

7.4. Fishing areas

Fishing for Sea cucumber is authorized in that portion of NAFO sub-Division 3Ps known as the Western Bed, south of 46°30’ North latitude and west of 56°28’ West longitude, and the Eastern Bed, south of 46°30’ North latitude and east of 56°08’ West longitude.

7.5. Fishing gear

Licence holders are authorized to use one Sea cucumber drag, as. The drag must have the following measurements:

  1. Maximum width of frame shall be 182.88 cm.
  2. Maximum height of frame shall be 52.705 cm.
  3. Maximum number of shoes shall be 5.
  4. Number of meshes attached to frame (circumference) shall be 74.
  5. Number of meshes lengthways shall be 38.
  6. Mesh size shall be 80 mm inside knot.
  7. Twine size shall be 6 mm.

7.6. Species at Risk Act (SARA) Requirements

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

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

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

7.7. Dockside monitoring program

The department requires accurate and timely landings information in order to ensure the TAC is not exceeded, and to ensure fish harvester’s catches are accurately accounted. All license holders are required to have all Sea cucumber landings weighed and dockside monitored. The objective of the Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) is to provide accurate, timely, and independent third party verification of landings. DMP constitutes one of the primary sources of landing information on which the management of the fishery is based. The fishing industry and the department are therefore dependent on the accurate verification of landings by Dockside Monitoring Corporations (DMCs). All DMP costs are the responsibility of individual fish harvesters or fishing fleets. It is also the responsibility of license holders to ensure that monitors who oversee the offloading of catches are certified by DFO. The dockside monitoring requirement is managed as a condition of licence.

7.8. Logbooks

Logbooks are one of the monitoring tools used in the fishery. Under Section 61 of the Fisheries Act, all licence holders are required to complete and return logbooks to DFO. Logbooks must be completed accurately and in accordance with instructions provided. Logbook data is vital to both catch monitoring and for science assessments. Logbooks are required to be submitted on a weekly basis until fishing activity ceases for the year. The mandatory completion and return of logbook requirement is managed as a condition of licence. The Fisheries Act can be found here.

7.9. Vessel monitoring system

As a means to ensure compliance with regulations regarding the area fished, mandatory use of the electronic vessel monitoring system (VMS) was implemented in all fleets in 2013. All vessels directing for Sea cucumber are required to have an automatic location and communication (ALC) device that will transmit the vessel’s position to DFO. By utilizing VMS in the fishery there will be more accurate, complete and detailed statistical information on the location and timing of fishing activity for DFO Science and Fisheries Management, and improved compliance for restricted areas and more efficient deployments of Conservation and Protection (C&P) resources. Fish harvesters are responsible for covering the cost of the ALC device, its installation on-board their vessel, and the cost of operations. The VMS requirement is managed as a condition of licence.

7.10. At sea-obsevers

The At–Sea Observer Program was designed to collect independent fisheries data for science, resource management and compliance and deterrence purposes. This important component of fishery management provides information and an at-sea presence while fisheries are on-going. At-Sea Observers (ASO) observe, record and report detailed biological and fishery data, such as fishing effort and all catch data, fishing gear type, and fishing location.

The fishing industry will be responsible for the payment of fees to cover at-sea observer coverage. Fishers will be required to carry at-sea observers at the request of DFO. Licence conditions are not valid unless a letter of arrangement from the observer company is attached confirming payment of observer fees. All harvesters will contribute to the overall observer coverage for the Sea cucumber fishery. The at-sea observer requirement is managed as a condition of licence.

7.11. Marine Mammal Protection Act

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

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

7.12. Oceans initiatives in marine conservation

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

As part of ongoing efforts to protect 10% of Canada’s marine and coastal area, Fisheries and Oceans Canada recently established the Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area (MPA) within 3Ps. It represents 11,580 km2 of protected ocean space off the southwest coast of Newfoundland and Labrador (figure 8), in which all commercial and recreational fishing is prohibited (figure 8). The MPA varies in depth from 100 to 500 m, with the basin of the Laurentian Channel being the deepest.

There are currently no formal marine conservation areas established in 3Ps which have conservation objectives directly relevant to sea cucumbers, or which affect sea cucumber fishing activities other than the Laurentian Channel MPA. It is possible marine conservation initiatives such as the establishment of marine refuges or conservation areas could be implemented in the future in areas in which sea cucumbers are found or fished. However no areas in 3Ps are currently being actively considered for formal marine protection or conservation measures by DFO.

Map of Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area

Figure 3: Map of Laurentian Channel Marine Protected Area

8. Shared stewardship arrangements

There are no formal shared stewardship arrangements in the Sea cucumber fishery. However as noted throughout the IFMP, DFO officials work closely with the harvesting and processing sectors in all aspects of fisheries management, science, and conservation and protection.

8.1. Oceans management initiatives promoting shared stewardship

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

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

9. Compliance plan

See Appendix 4 for Conservation and Protection Enforcemenet data for 3Ps Sea cucumber.

9.1. Conservation and Protection program description

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

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

9.2. Compliance performance

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

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

Pillar 1: Education and Shared Stewardship

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

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

Pillar 2: Monitoring, Control and Surveillance

Compliance Monitoring

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

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

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

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

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

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

Compliance Performance

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

Pillar 3: Major Case

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

C&P will focus on high-risk illegal activities that pose significant conservation threats. Detailed analysis of licence holders and possibly companies will be completed using:

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

9.3. Current compliance issues

Compliance issues in this fishery include:

Verifying accurate reporting of all Sea cucumber fishing activities will be a primary focus of C&P efforts for the duration of this IFMP.

C&P will focus enforcement effort on the detection of unmonitored landings for the duration of this IFMP.

9.4. Compliance strategy

C&P has developed an operational plan that outlines monitoring and compliance activities that will be carried out by C&P personnel adjacent to the 3Ps management areas. The plan provides guidance for C&P, promotes effective monitoring of the fishery, and enables C&P personnel to effectively maintain compliance with management measures governing this fishery. The objective of the plan is to collect information for ensuring compliance and conducting investigations.

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

10. Performance review

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

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

The Performance Review outlines the activities and controls that are used in achieving Fisheries management objectives. Table 1 identifies the specific strategies that are used to achieve fisheries management objectives.

Objectives Fisheries management strategies
Conservation and sustainable harvest
To conserve the Sea cucumber resource to provide commercial sustainability to fish harvesters
  • Fishing season
  • Total Allowable Catch
  • Quota monitoring
  • Quota reconciliation
To mitigate the impacts on other species, habitat and the ecosystem where Sea cucumber fishing occurs, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function
To employ effective monitoring and surveillance tools and mechanisms that ensure compliance with conservation measures and provide scientists with appropriate information and basic data required to manage the Sea cucumber fishery
  • Accurate completion of logbooks
  • Reliable dockside monitoring program
  • Adequate level of at-sea observer coverage, both spatial and temporal
  • Adherence to electronic vessel monitoring system (VMS) requirements
Benefits to stakeholders
To promote the continued development of a commercially viable and self-sustaining fishery
  • Aboriginal access and allocations are maintained and opportunities for additional access are addressed.
To provide fish harvesters with increased opportunity to develop long-term business stability
  • Evergreen management plans
To promote a co-management approach, providing stakeholders with an effective sharing of responsibility, accountability and decision making, within the constraints of the Fisheries Act
  • Establish an effective consultative process for stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process
  • Improve management of fishery through co-management

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

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

11. Glossary of terms

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

Abundance: number of individuals in a stock or a population

Age Composition: proportion of individuals of different ages in a stock or in the catches

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

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

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

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

By-catch: the unintentional catch of one species when the target is another species

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

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

Communal Commercial Licence: licence issued to Aboriginal organizations pursuant to the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations for participation in the general commercial fishery
Discards: portion of a catch thrown back into the water after it is caught in fishing gear

Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP): A monitoring program conducted by a company that has been designated by DFO to verify the species composition and landed weight of all fish landed from a commercial fishing vessel

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

Fishing Effort: quantity of effort using a given fishing gear over a given period of time

Fishing Mortality: death caused by fishing, often symbolized by the mathematical symbol F

Fixed Gear: a type of fishing gear that is set in a stationary position. This includes traps, weirs, gillnets, longlines, handlines, bar/beach seines and modified bar seines (known as tuck seines)

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

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

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

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

Landings: quantity of a species caught and landed

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

Maximum Sustainable Yield: largest average catch that can continuously be taken from a stock

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

Mobile Gear: any type of fishing gear that is drawn through the water by a vessel to entrap fish, including purse seines

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

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

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

Pelagic: fish that lives in the water column or close to the surface

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

Purse Seine: large net used to encircle fish and equipped with a wire rope on the bottom to draw the net together. A small boat, called a "skiff", participates in manoeuvring the net.

Quota: portion of the Total Allowable Catch that a fleet, vessel class, association, country, etc. is permitted to take from a stock in a given period of time

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

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

Species at Risk Act (SARA): a federal law enabling the Government to take action to prevent wildlife species from becoming extinct and secure the necessary actions for their recovery. It provides the legal protection of wildlife species and the conservation of their biological diversity.

Spawner: sexually mature individual

Spawning Stock: sexually mature individuals in a stock

Stock: a population of individuals of one species found in a particular area, and used as a unit for fisheries management, e.g. NAFO area 4R Herring

Stock Assessment: scientific evaluation of the status of a fish stock within a particular area in a given time period

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

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

Tonne: metric tonne, 1000kg or 2204.6 lbs

Trawl: fishing gear; a cone-shaped net towed in the water by a boat called a "trawler". Bottom trawls are towed along the ocean floor to catch species such as groundfish, while mid-water trawls are towed through the water column

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"

12. References

Coady, L. W. 1973. Aspects of the reproductive biology of Cucumaria frondosa (Gunnerus, 1770) and Psolus fabricii (Düben and Koren, 1846) (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) in shallow waters of the Avalon peninsula, Newfoundland. Thesis (M.Sc.) Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL.

DFO. 2009. Proceedings of a Workshop on Canadian Science and Management Strategies for Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa); 17-18 June 2008. DFO Can. Sci. Advis. Sec. Proceed. Ser. 2009/023.

Grant, S. M., Squire, L., and Keats, C. 2006. Biological resource assessment of orange footed cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) occurring on the St. Pierre Bank. Fisheries and Marine Institute Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources. Project No. P-137/P-172. 75p.

Hamel, J.-F. and Mercier, A. 1995. Spawning of the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa in the St. Lawrence estuary, eastern Canada. SPC Beche-de-mer Info. Bull. 7: 12-18.

Hamel, J.-F. and Mercier, A. 1996a. Early development, settlement, growth, and spatial distribution of the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea). Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. 53: 253-271.

Hamel, J.-F. and Mercier, A. 1996b. Gamete dispersion and fertilization success of the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa. SPC Beche-de-mer Info. Bull. 8: 34-40.

Hamel, J.-F. and Mercier, A. 1996c. Studies on the reproductive biology of the Atlantic sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa. SPC Beche-de-mer Info. Bull. 8: 22-33.

Hamel, J.-F. and Mercier, A. 1998. Diet and feeding behaviour of the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa in the St. Lawrence estuary, eastern Canada. Can. J. Zool. 76: 1194-1198.

Singh, R., MacDonald, B. A., Thomas, M. L. H. and Lawton, P. 1999. Patterns of seasonal and tidal feeding activity in the dendrochirote sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) in the Bay of Fundy, Canada. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 187: 133-145.

Singh, R., MacDonald, B. A., Lawton, P. and M. L. H. Thomas. 2001. The reproductive biology of the dendrochirote sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea) using new quantitative methods. Inv. Rep. Dev. 40(2-3): 125-141.

So, J. J. 2009. Assessment of the biology, ecology and genetic structure of the sea cucumber Cucumaria frondosa for management of the fishery in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region. Thesis (M.Sc.) Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, NL.

Appendix 1: Stock assessment

The Assessment of the Sea Cucumber (Cucumaria frondosa) resource on the St. Pierre Bank (NAFO Subdivision 3Ps) in 2016 is available here.

Appendix 2: Allocation table and quota report

3Ps sea cucumber
Historical TACs and landings
Year TAC (t) Landings (t)
2003 454 X
2004 454 X
2005 612 X
2006 612 X
2007 612 X
2008 612 X
2009 612 X
2010 907 X
2011 907 X
2012 907 X
2013 2,242 X
2014 2,242 936
2015 2,242 2,297
2016 2,242 2,261
2017 6,016 3,707
2018 6,016 5,543

*Data not meeting privacy requirements has been suppressed and is indicated by the use of ‘X’.

Appendix 3: Map of sea cucumber fishing areas

Map of sea cucumber fishing areas

Appendix 4: C&P enforcement data for sea cucumber

C&P Enforcement Data for January 1, 2014 to November 7, 2018

Total Sea Cucumber Occurrences:

Graphic of sea cucumber occurrences
Sea cucumber occurrences
Year # of occurrences
2018 3
2017 7
2016 1
2015 2
2014 0

Total sea cucumber violations:

Graphic of sea cucumber violations
Sea cucumber violations 2014-2018
  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
Number of charges laid 0 0 0 0 0
Number of warning issued 0 0 0 1 0
Number of charges pending/under review 0 0 0 0 2

Total Sea Cucumber Enforcement Effort (Hrs):

Graphic of total sea cucumber enforcement
Year Total Effort (Hrs)
2018 369
2017 169
2016 73
2015 75
2014 73

Appendix 5: Safety at sea

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

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

Before leaving on a voyage the owner, master or operator must ensure that the fishing vessel is capable of safely making the passage. Critical factors for a safe voyage include:

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

Fishing vessel safety includes three priority areas:

Fishing vessel stability

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

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

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

Emergency drill requirements

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

Since July 30, 2003 all crew members with more than six months at sea are required to have taken minimum Marine Emergency Duties (MED) training or be registered for such training.

MED provides a basic understanding of:

Cold water immersion

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

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

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

Other issues


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

Emergency radio procedures

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

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

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

Collison regulations

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

Vessels required to participate in VTS include:

Exceptions include:

Additional information can be found on the Collision Regulations page.

Sail plan

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

Appendix 6: Departmental contacts

DFO Newfoundland and Labrador Region Headquarters
P.O. Box 5667, St. John’s, NL, A1C 5X1
Contact Telephone Fax Email
Martin Henri
Senior Resource Manager
Resource Management and Indigenous Fisheries
709-772-4911 709-772-3628
Kerry Bungay
Chief of Enforcement Operations
Conservation and Protection
709-772-0468 709-772-4327
Julia Pantin
Shellfish Biologist
Shellfish Science
709-772-2195 709-772-4188
Jason Kelly
Senior Biologist
Fisheries Protection Program



Frank Corbett
Policy Analyst
Policy and Economics
709-772-6935 709-772-4583
DFO Newfoundland and Labrador Area Offices – Resource Management and Indigenous Fisheries
Laurie Hawkins
Area Chief (4R3P)
Corner Brook, NL
709-637-4310 709-637-4476
David Small
Area Chief (3KL)
Grand Falls-Winsor, NL
709-292-5167 709-292-5205
Wayne King
Senior Area Representative (2J)
Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL
709-896-6157 709-896-8419
DFO Newfoundland and Labrador Area Offices – Conservation and Protection
Chad Ward
Area Chief (3KLPs)
St. John's, NL
709-772-5857 709-772-2659
Brent Watkins
Area Chief (2GHJ, 3K, 4R3Pn)
Corner Brook, NL
709-637-4334 709-637-4445
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