Northern shrimp – Areas 8, 9, 10 and 12 (Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence)

Foreword

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Northern shrimp
(Pandalus borealis)

The purpose of this integrated fisheries management plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements of the northern shrimp fishery in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, in the Esquiman (8), Anticosti (9), Sept-Îles (10) and Estuary (12) areas and the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also provides background information and information related to management of this fishery to staff of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), co-management boards established by law under the regulations on territorial claims (if applicable) and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common interpretation of the fundamental "rules" that govern sustainable management of fisheries resources.

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 the implementing obligation under land claim agreements or from Supreme Court judgments in relation to aboriginal rights, the IFMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an IFMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claim agreements, the provisions of the land claim agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

Maryse Lemire
Regional Director, Fisheries Management
Quebec Region

Table of contents

List of figures

Acronymes

ACAG
Association des crevettiers Acadiens du Golfe
ACPG
Association des capitaines propriétaires de la Gaspésie
AFS
Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy
CCG
Canadian Coast Guard
CL
Carapace length
C&P
Conservation and protection branch
CSAS
Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat
CSSP
Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program
CSST
Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail
DFO
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
ENGO
Environmental Non-Governmental Organisation
FAO
Food and Alimentation Organisation of the United Nations
FFAW
Fish, Food and Allied Workers
EGSAC
Estuary and Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee
IFMP
Integrated Fishery Management Plan
IQ
Individual Quota
ITQ
Individual Transferable Quota
LRP
Lower Reference Point
OEABCM
Other Effective Area-Based Conservation Measures
MSC
Marine Stewardship Council
PA
Precautionary approach
SARA
Species at Risk Act
SFA
Shrimp Fishing Area
SRP
Superior Reference Point
SS
Strategic Services branch
TAC
Total Allowable Catch
TC
Transport Canada
TRP
Target Reference Point
UNFA
United Nations Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks
VMS
Vessel Monitoring System

Overview of the fishery

History

Beginning of the commercial fishery

The 1960s and 1970s correspond to the start of the northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) fishing industry throughout Atlantic Canada. During the 1960s, intensive programs of exploratory fishing identified interesting concentrations of shrimp in the Bay of Fundy and on the Scotian Shelf as well as in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Saguenay Fjord. The small fisheries of the Bay of Fundy and the Saguenay Fjord did not persist. Some fishermen continued the exploration and new sites were exploited during the 1970s in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence as well as on the Labrador Coast.

The northern Shrimp fishery began in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 1965 when the first commercial catches were made in the western Gulf (Figure 1 ). The shrimp fishery was essentially developed by mid-shore groundfish harvesters who chose to diversify their fishing operations. Fishing targeting shrimp intensified and the use of higher performance fishing vessels and gear contributed to the rapid increase of landings. Indeed, the collapse of cod and redfish stocks in the mid-1970s and the low prices paid for these species led to increased demand for fishing licences for northern shrimp. The number of northern shrimp fishing licences increased until 1980 to a limit of 111 licences. The number had to be limited so as to not further increase fishing capacity on groundfish species since all the northern shrimp fishing licence holders were also holders of groundfish fishing licence.

Management measures history

The Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee was created in 1980 and measures for better control of catches were put forward, such as implementing a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) in 1982.

A symposium of all stakeholders in the Gulf shrimp fishery took place in March 1985 to discuss the suitability of issuing new fishing licences, distributing quotas between harvesters and new measures to reduce incidental catches of groundfish. Following this symposium, the number of licences authorized for shrimp increased by over 20% between 1985 and 1990, reaching 134.

During this period, shrimp fishing was done by two groups of fish harvesters, which were defined in the mid-80s. Group A consists of harvesters from Western Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec, while Group B consists of fish harvesters from Quebec and New Brunswick. An individual quota program was established for Group B in 1991 and for Group A in 1996.

In the winter of 1993, fisheries managers held a second symposium on the Gulf shrimp in order to take stock of the fishery and plan for medium term management. The symposium brought together many industry stakeholders who were able to discuss in a more open setting than that of the Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee. A three year management plan (1993-1995) was adopted following this conference and several management measures were changed or strengthened. In addition to conservation objectives, the management strategy was also aimed at socio-economic objectives such as maximizing harvesters' profits, avoiding over-capitalization and ensuring equitable sharing of the resource. 

The northern shrimp industry was able to expand while continuing its efforts in rationalization and long-term planning while harvesters other than shrimp harvesters were also able to benefit from increases in quotas from 1997 in all areas. After that, temporary shrimp allocations (« new access ») were allocated to harvesters who do not hold a regular shrimp fishing licence, mainly groundfish fishers of Quebec and New Brunswick.

In 1998, a temporary allocation was authorized to benefit core groundfish harvesters of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. Temporary allocation quotas were dependent on the TAC and, therefore, varied based on shrimp stock abundance in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. In 2009, DFO stabilized access for the various fleets involved in the shrimp fishery.

Between 1998 and 2008, two co-management agreements (1998-2002 and 2003-2007) were in effect between the DFO and the traditional shrimp harvesters of Group B. These co-management agreements established basic principles for the management of northern shrimp for a period of 5 years. The basic principles were the conservation of the resource, the viability of the traditional shrimp fleet and no permanent increase in fishing capacity. These agreements put in place a resource-sharing formula between shrimpers and other fishers, and allowed the identification of additional activities financed by the industry (for example, Section 2.4).

Figure 1 : Historical landings of the shrimp fishery in the estuary and the north of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and highlights of management measures in the fishery between 1965 and 2016p
Source: DFO, Quebec Science Region

see description below

Description

Figure 1 shows historical landings of the shrimp fishery in the estuary and the north of the Gulf of St. Lawrence and highlights of management measures in the fishery between 1965 and 2016p*

Year Total (tonnes) Highlights of management measures in the fishery
1965 11  
1966 95  
1967 278  
1968 271  
1969 273  
1970 572  
1971 1 084  
1972 665  
1973 1 793  
1974 3 317  
1975 4 528  
1976 4 645  
1977 5 180  
1978 6 152  
1979 7 541  
1980 7 412  
1981 8 106 Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence advisory committee (EGSAC)
1982 8 501  
1983 8 972 Total allowable catch (TAC)
1984 7 545  
1985 8 770  
1986 9 410 1st symposium
1987 12 041  
1988 13 777  
1989 15 750  
1990 15 372  
1991 16 279 Individual Quota (IQ). Dockside Monitoring Program (DSM). Observers
1992 12 757  
1993 15 455 2nd symposium
1994 16 210  
1995 16 634  
1996 18 111  
1997 20 301  
1998 23 101 Comanagement Group B
1999 23 639  
2000 26 236  
2001 25 011  
2002 29 180  
2003 27 668 Comanagement Group B
2004 35 924  
2005 30 882  
2006 34 259  
2007 36 069  
2008 35 564 MSC Certification
2009 36 124  
2010 36 299  
2011 34 263  
2012 31 983 3rd symposium, Precautionary approach
2013 32 165  
2014 30 546 MSC Recertification
2015 30 882  
2016p 27 610  

* Preliminary

First Nations

DFO's development of the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy took off in the wake of the Sparrow decision in the early 1990s, when subsection 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982, which recognizes and affirms the ancestral and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including the right to fish, was studied in greater detail. An initial Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) was implemented in 1992, and its objectives included governing the Aboriginal food, social and ceremonial fishery and providing Aboriginal peoples with the opportunity to participate in fisheries management. In 1994 this strategy was improved following the implementation of the allocation transfer program, which facilitated First Nations' entry into the commercial fishery without increasing pressure on stocks. Commercial fishers could voluntarily sell their allocations to DFO, which would redistribute them to First Nations groups through communal licences.

On September 17, 1999, the Supreme Court of Canada handed down the Marshall decision, which affirmed, to Mi’kmaq and Meliseet First Nations, the aboriginal right to hunt, fish and gather in pursuit of a “moderate livelihood,” stemming from Peace and Friendship Treaties of 1760 and 1761. This decision affected the 34 Mi’kmaq and Maliseet First Nations in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Quebec (Gaspé). The Supreme Court made a clarification on November 17, 1999, stating that this right had its limits and that this fishery could be regulated.

In response, in January 2000, Fisheries and Oceans Canada launched the Marshall Response Initiative to negotiate interim fisheries agreements, giving First Nations increased and immediate access to the commercial fishery. This initiative was largely inspired by the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS). The Marshall Response Initiative was in effect until 2007.

The Marshall Response Initiative's long-term objectives were the following:

In 2000, after buying back 6 Quebec licences, First Nations from Gesgapegiag, Gespeg, Listuguj and Viger Maliseet gained access to the shrimp fishery. In New Brunswick, First Nations from Eel River Bar and Red Bank gained access in 2004, after buying back two licences of this region. Finally, the Innu Takuaikan Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam community obtained a first licence in 2003 and a second in 2008. In 2011, DFO bought back allocations that were given to Gespeg First Nation and to Viger Meliseet, who already had a fishing licence.

Five First Nations from Quebec and two from New Brunswick have since participated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery with fishing licences issued under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations. Through their participation in the commercial fishery and the training programs in place, participating First Nations have the opportunity to increase employment and economic benefits for their community.

Ecocertification

The shrimp industry was the first in eastern Canada to take steps toward certification, helping shrimpers to distinguish their product in the marketplace as higher quality than that of their Asian competitors. The northern shrimp fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence has been certified sustainable and well managed according to the criteria of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) for the wild capture fishery. Shrimp fishing in fishing areas 9, 10 and 12 (stocks of the Estuary, Sept-Îles, Anticosti Island) obtained certification on September 23, 2008, while that for area 8 (Esquiman stock) was certified on March 30, 2009. Certification was awarded to Quebec, New Brunswick, Newfoundland processing companies.

The shrimp fishery of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence has been certified for a five year period and the clients have started the certification renewal process in the fall of 2012. The MSC certification has been renewed for another five year in 2014.

A third symposium on the northern shrimp took place on December 10th and 11th, 2012 under the theme, " The northern shrimp of the Gulf of St. Lawrence: The challenges of a responsible fishery". This symposium gathered all the players of the shrimp fishery in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The symposium aimed at making aware the industry and the general public on the issues and the challenges of this fishery. Furthermore, the issues and the objectives of this fishery for the next years were identified, among others those in connection with the MSC certification.

Mechanical bycatch separator

At the third symposium on northern shrimp in 2012, the recommendation to improve the product's quality was identified and the industry had agreed to work on ways to implement this recommendation. In this context, a prototype for a mechanical bycatch separator was tried by a New Brunswick shrimper whose objective was to assess the possibility of using this type of equipment in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery. The preliminary results of this test showed that use of this technology had a potential for improving the quality of landed shrimp, although there were still concerns about bycatches and shrimp discards.

Between 2014 and 2016, DFO carried out a pilot project involving six shrimpers from Quebec and New Brunswick chosen by fishers' organizations that used a separator to assess the bycatch separator's effectiveness and to minimize the ergonomic issues of personnel on board. The pilot project results showed that use of a mechanical separator on a larger scale could be considered if monitoring conditions specific to these vessels were implemented.

Processing on board

A shrimper from Quebec started using a new vessel that had on-board processing equipment similar to that which shrimpers in the northern shrimp distant-water fleet (SFAs 0 to 7) use—only smaller—to cook and freeze whole northern shrimp. Until now, no northern shrimp in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence fishing enterprises processed shrimp on board (sorting by size, cooking, and freezing shrimp caught).

After studies and consultations on the project, DFO implemented, for the 2017 season, an adapted approach that takes into account the data management tools in place in the shrimp fishery. These management measures are detailed in the Conservation Harvesting Plan of the northern shrimp. In 2017, only one vessel with processing on board was in service.

1.2 Types of fishing

The only type of northern shrimp fishing authorized in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence is commercial fishing practised with a trawl.

1.3 Participants

The shrimp fishery in the Gulf of St. Lawrence is a limited entry fishery. There are no new licences available. In 2017, 111 fishing licences, including First Nations peoples, were issued for this fishery in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The table 1 shows the distribution of licence holders on a provincial basis.

Table 1 : Number of northern shrimp fishing licences for the Gulf by province in 2017
Province Number of licences Number of licences
First Nations
Quebec 39 8Footnote 1
New Brunswick 19 2
Newfoundland and Labrador 40 -
Prince Edward Island 2 -
Nova Scotia 1 -
TOTAL 111

Source: DFO, Fisheries Management

In 2008, traditional New Brunswick based shrimp harvesters of the Association des crevettiers acadiens du golfe (ACAG) began working on a restructuring plan with intentions of improving the viability of their fishing enterprises. The ACAG identified shrimp fishing enterprises to be bought out and thereafter, working in collaboration with the Province of New Brunswick and DFO representatives, proceeded with the acquisition of these enterprises and with the implementation phase of their plan. By March 2011, this initiative had resulted in 4 Gulf based fishing enterprises having been purchased by 10 traditional Gulf based shrimp harvesters from the ACAG. A new company was created (Corporation 649676 NB Inc.) to manage the allocations acquired with the purchases of licences. This Corporation is owned by 10 traditional shrimp harvesters that are members of ACAG. The goal of the restructuration is to reach the self-sufficiency of the traditional shrimp harvesters of New Brunswick.

As well, in 2008 Fisheries and Oceans Canada implemented enterprise mergers in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region; a voluntary fleet self-rationalization policy which allows most fish harvesters to acquire individual quota (IQ) from an existing enterprise. With the introduction of enterprise mergers the total number of licences are now described as licence shares since the number of licences issued will decrease over time, but the number of licence shares will remain constant.

1.4 Location of the fishery

Five fishing areas were established in the 1970s from known and exploited areas by fishermen. However, the expansion of the fishery in the 1980s challenged some of these boundaries and following a review of data from commercial and scientific activities, a modification of areas was adopted after the 1993 conference in order to better reflect the activities of fish harvesters and the spatial organization of shrimp (Figure 2 ). Four fishing areas were identified from the distribution of all stages of development of the species, including the juveniles and breeding females. Although genetic analyses have not been able to formally identify distinct populations, the four harvest areas that were adopted provide a better link between the shrimp production areas and exploited areas.

The spatial fishing pattern is marked by the exploitation of the bottom located on both sides of the Laurentian Channel and also in the Anticosti and Esquiman channels (Figure 2 ) in depths between 200 and 300 m. This fishing pattern means that shrimp fishery can take place near the coast, for example at approximately 2 nautical miles off the Gaspe coast. The shrimp distribution pattern varies between years. Figure 3 in Section 2.1 presents the Gulf shrimp distribution pattern since the 1990s, according to research surveys.

Figure 2 : Shrimp fishing areas for the Gulf
Source: DFO, Fisheries Management, Quebec Region Fishery Characteristics

see description below

Description

This figure shows the 4 shrimp fishing areas in 2017: Estuary (area 12), Sept-Îles (area 10), Anticosti (area 9) and Esquiman (area 8).

1.5 Fishery characteristics

The shrimp fishery usually starts on the first of April and ends in fall. The fishery is carried out using trawlers varying from 16.7 m (55 feet) to 27.4 m (90 feet) in length. A minimum mesh size of 40 mm has been in force since 1986 to minimize the catches of small shrimp and to target the size of shrimp that meets market specifications. Moreover, automatic sorters are not permitted on board the fishing vessels to prevent discards of small shrimp, which would not be counted in catch statistics. In 1993, it was mandated that all fishers use the Nordmore grate to significantly reduce the incidental catches of groundfish.

The implementation of management measures regarding the processing on board that year allowed fishers to use processing equipment aboard their vessels to cook and freeze northern shrimp. This approach being recent, it will be assessed after the fishing season to determine whether any adjustments are needed.

Experimental trap fishing for shrimp was done in the past in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (Gaspésie, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador). The exploratory harvests had disappointing results with low yields.

1.6 Governance

First of all, the fishing activities are subject to the Fisheries Act and its regulations, more specifically the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985 and the Fishery (General) Regulations. Since 2002, the Species at Risk Act has stated rules for endangered and threatened species.

The Management Plan for shrimp in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including the TAC for each fishing area, is approved by the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard. The Minister takes into account various recommendations including those of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Shrimp Advisory Committee (EGSAC). The coordination of EGSAC consultation and management is the responsibility of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Management Branch for the Quebec Region, in collaboration with the two other DFO administrative regions involved in the fishery, the Newfoundland and Labrador Region and the Gulf Region, which includes Prince Edward Island, Eastern New Brunswick and part of Nova Scotia.

The EGSAC is the main mechanism for consultation for the shrimp fishery in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The committee consists of representatives of shrimp harvesters associations, First Nations, processors, provincial governments and resource managers from DFO. The Department also offers to the Committee the support of resource personnel (an economist, a DFO biologist and an adviser from Conservation and Protection Program).

The EGSAC advises the Minister on issues affecting exploitation of shrimp, including distribution of the resource, methods of exploitation, needs in respect of scientific research and regulatory application, licensing policy and economic analysis of harvesting enterprises.

Beyond the EGSAC, working groups may be formed with specific duties, as needed. Currently, a working group is responsible for monitoring and development of administrative rules related to the Individual Transferable Quota Program for Group B in place since 1993.

Following the 2012 advisory committee, the governance and the structure of the advisory committee have been reviewed and a multi-year management cycle has been implemented. In 2014, new terms of reference of the GSAC have been adopted and are still in effect (Appendix 2)

1.7 Approval process

Development of the IFMP is coordinated by the Resource and Aquaculture Management and Aboriginal Affairs (RAMAA) Direction in Québec. The document drafting and consultation processes involve the Resources Management and Aquaculture division, Strategic Services and Science branch from the Quebec region; the Newfoundland and Labrador and Gulf regions; fishers' organizations; First Nations; the processing industry; and the Atlantic provinces and Quebec. The final draft of the IFMP is approved by the Fisheries Management Regional Director (FMRD), Quebec Region, with the consent of the other regions. The approved IFMP is sent to the fishery stakeholders and to the public.

2. Distribution, scientific and traditional knowledge and stock assessment

2.1 Distribution

There are 25 shrimp species listed in the Estuary and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the northern shrimp is the most abundant of these by far. The data from the research survey that DFO has conducted in the Estuary and the northern Gulf since 1990 indicate that the northern shrimp is widely distributed in the Estuary and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence at depths of 150 to 350 m, with over 80% of the cumulative northern shrimp biomass found between 192 and 331 m at bottom temperatures of 3.6 to 5.7 °C (Figure 3 ). The median depth for northern shrimp distribution is 260 m, and the median temperature is 5.2 °C. The survey is deemed to effectively cover the entire distribution range of northern shrimp in the Estuary and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. Generally, the northern shrimp is associated with deep water mass and found mainly in channels at depths of 200 to 300 m, where sediment is fine and consolidated. The species occurs only rarely in the southern Gulf.

Figure 3 : Northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) distribution as determined by research surveys from 1990 to 2016
Source: DFO, Sciences, Quebec Region

see description below

Description

Figure 3 presents northern shrimp distribution from research surveys from 1990 to 2016 by 5-year period. Dark red hues indicate a high abundance of northern shrimp (in kg / ha) while regions in hues of yellow indicate lower abundance of Greenland halibut (in kg / ha) for the period mentioned in the top left corner.

2.2 Life cycle

The northern shrimp, Pandalus borealis, is a hermaphroditic proterandrous species, which means that individuals first attain male sexual maturity then change sex and become females. This life cycle characteristic is very important for developing harvest strategies and management since the large individuals that are targeted by the fishery are almost exclusively female.

In the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, shrimp larvae hatch in the spring, in April or May, and remain pelagic for several months. At the end of the summer, the larvae increasingly resemble adults and adopt supra-benthic (associated with the bottom) behaviour. These are then post-larvae or juveniles that are too small to be retained by the trawl nets used in commercial fishing. The juveniles attain male sexual maturity during their second year. Reproduction occurs in the fall and the males can reproduce for two or three years before changing sex. The change of sex occurs in winter at the age of 4 or 5 years at a size of about 21 mm (length of the carapace). The newly transformed females are easily recognizable in the spring and summer commercial catches since they have retained certain male sexual characteristics. These females are called primiparous females and reproduce in the fall (in September or October) after the change of sex. The females carry their fertilized eggs beneath the abdomen during the incubation period which lasts about 8 months. The larvae hatch the following spring. The breeding females that survive reproduction are recognizable from those that have never reproduced and are called multiparous females. Primiparous and multiparous females can in fact be distinguished by morphological characteristics (sternal spines) which disappear when the females perform the prenuptial moult just before mating. The females may reproduce at least twice and the lifespan of shrimp in the Estuary and the Gulf is estimated at about seven years.

2.3 Behavior

Shrimp begin to be caught by commercial trawlers when they are male and have reached a size of about 15 mm carapace length (CL). The likelihood of capture by a trawl increases with size and individuals are fully recruited into the fishery at about 22 mm (CL). The catches of commercial fish harvesters are therefore made up of male and female individuals in proportions that vary depending on the period and place of capture. Migratory movements of shrimp are well known to fish harvesters who have adapted their fishing pattern to take advantage of it. In general, fish harvesters are trying to maintain high catch rates and to maximize the proportion of large shrimp in the catch while minimizing incidental catches of other species.

Shrimp make annual migrations that are related to reproduction. In late fall and early winter the egg-bearing females undertake a migration to shallower areas within their range. In spring, they are gathered on favourable sites for release of the larvae while the males remain spread out throughout the territory. Fish harvesters know how to take advantage of these aggregations of egg-bearing females in spring to obtain high yields. The females moult after the larvae hatch and redistribute into the deeper areas (200-300 m) of the territory. The distribution of shrimp also differs according to the age of the individuals. In general, young shrimp are found in shallower areas, often at the head of the channels, while the older individuals, the females, are found in deeper waters. Concentrations of young shrimp in shallower waters are also greater than those of large shrimp found in deep water. The composition of commercial catches in spring is often a good reflection of this distribution pattern. Since they are taken from shallower water, spring catches often consist of two groups of individuals, egg-bearing females and very small males.

Shrimp also make vertical migrations. They leave the bottom at night to rise in the water column and feed on plankton, then return to the bottom during the day. The extent of vertical migration varies and depends on the stage of development of the individual and local conditions. For example, small shrimp leave the bottom earlier than the females and rise higher in the water column. Fishing yields may be lower at night but the average size of catches should be higher because the proportion of males in the catches is lower. In addition, it can also be advantageous to fish at night to avoid incidental capture of capelin, which also leaves the bottom at night.

The size of females varies along an east-west gradient, the smallest being observed in the Esquiman Channel and the largest in the Estuary. It is interesting to note that since an individual's fertility increases with size, egg production for the same number of females will theoretically be lower towards the east. The number of individuals for a given unit of volume also varies between areas. The number of shrimp per kg depends on the fishing pattern which influences the proportion of males in the catches as well as the average size of females. The number of shrimp per kg increases significantly from west to east since the proportion of males in the commercial catch increases while the size of females decreases.

2.4 Recruitment and growth

Research programs carried out in the field and in the laboratory (in ponds), funded jointly by Group B shrimp fish harvesters and the DFO, have studied the growth of juveniles and adults, while programs for monitoring shrimp populations and the environment have studied the recruitment process.

Females carry the eggs beneath their abdomens for the duration of incubation and the larvae are released in early spring. Laboratory experiments on egg-bearing females have shown that the optimal temperature to ensure good physiological condition of egg-baring females was not the same as for other stages of development (e.g., juveniles, males). A cold temperature seems optimal for maturation and reproduction while a warmer temperature seems to favour survival and growth of larvae and juveniles. In general, an increase in temperature accelerates development of eggs but decreases their survival. Estimates of fertility were obtained from samples from commercial fishing. The fertility of a female of average size was about 2,000 eggs. Mortality of eggs during incubation can be significant and vary from 0 to 86% (14% on average).

Temperatures and the seabed where the females are found determine the duration of incubation and emergence of the larvae can be earlier or later in spring depending on the year or the population. Studies on the processes of recruitment have shown that the length of spring bloom has a positive influence on larval survival. The feeding success of the first larval stages is critical for survival of a cohort. Synchronisation of emergence of larvae with the spring bloom therefore seems to be critical for successful recruitment. In addition, temperature conditions adequate for development and growth of larvae and the zooplankton community (their prey) also appear to be necessary to ensure successful recruitment.

Growth of juveniles, males and females was measured using laboratory experiments at different temperatures. The frequency of moults increases with temperature but decreases with age (or size) of shrimp. Increase in the moult is more significant in young shrimp. The juvenile stage is the stage which is the most sensitive to temperature variations, suggesting that the growth of a cohort is largely influenced by the environmental conditions to which the juveniles are subject. Research programs in the field indicate that growth in winter can be significant and that the change in sex usually occurs between the ages of 4 and 5 years. Experiments in ponds have shown however that the change of sex of a cohort could occur over three years.

2.5 Ecosystem interactions

Variations observed in the physical and biological environment of shrimp have a major effect on population dynamics. Environmental conditions in which the egg-bearing females develop have a direct impact on egg survival and incubation period and most likely on their date of hatching in the spring. Spring conditions at the time of emergence of the larvae have an influence on larval survival and growth. Oceanographic conditions and ecosystem productivity also significantly affect the growth of juveniles. The growth trajectory and strength of cohorts can be maintained during subsequent years until the change of sex and recruitment into the fishery due to the ontogenetic migration of individuals from shallower waters at the lower limit of the intermediate cold layer to deeper waters where the temperature is warmer and more stable.

Deep-water temperatures in the Gulf have been rising for a few years. These waters, which come from outside the Gulf, are a mix of the cold Labrador current and the warm Gulf Stream waters. The ratio of these two water masses is currently richer in warm Gulf Stream water. Waters entering through the Cabot Strait move upstream, mixing little with shallower waters. Overall, the average temperature in the Gulf at depths of 150 m to 300 m reached a record high in 2015, surpassing 6 °C at 250 m and 300 m for the first time since 1915. The area of seafloor with temperatures warmer than 6 °C increased in the Anticosti and Esquiman channels and in the centre of the Gulf, to the detriment of seafloor habitat in the 5 to 6 °C temperature range. In 2015, male and female shrimp were found at bottom temperatures that were 1 °C warmer compared to the 1990 to 2014 average. In Sept-Îles, in the last five years, it has been observed that females mature later in the season and lay their eggs later. However, larval extrusion in the spring does not seem to be affected by this phenomenon, with larval release remaining near late April from year to year.

The ecosystem dominated by groundfish in the early 1990s has progressed to an ecosystem dominated by forage species. Shrimp abundance increased at the same time that abundance of other large-sized groundfish species declined. For a few years now, an increase in the abundance of redfish and cod has been observed in the northern Gulf. Trophic changes may be observed in future years because shrimp are a major dietary component for numerous species.

These changes in environmental and ecosystem conditions observed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence may have an impact on shrimp population dynamics through their effects on such factors as spatial distribution, growth, reproduction and trophic relationships.

In line with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the DFO promotes responsible fishing aimed at reducing bycatch and mitigating impacts on habitat wherever biologically justifiable and cost effective.

Shrimp fishing is done using small mesh trawls so it is common for the catch to include other species than shrimp. The DFO Policy on Managing Bycatch aims to ensure that Canadian fisheries are managed in a manner that supports the sustainable harvesting of aquatic species by:

  1. minimizing the risk of fisheries causing serious or irreversible harm to bycatch and discard species,
  2. accounting for total catch, including bycatch and discards.

Incidental catch in the shrimp fishery were examined from databases of observers at sea. Use of the separating grate since 1993 has significantly reduced incidental catch of certain species of fish. For example, the average incidental catches (between 1999 and 2009) by weight of Greenland halibut were reduced to 13% of what they were in 1991, those of redfish to 2% and those of cod to 0.3%. Now the incidental fish catch are mostly in the range of 1 kg or less per species and per haul sampled. The presence of an observer does not seem to influence the general pattern of fishing since the catch rates of shrimp with and without an observer are similar. In general, the incidental catch for a given species vary between shrimp fishing areas and years. Incidental catch of Greenland halibut, redfish and cod consist of young individuals measuring less than 30 cm for cod and Greenland halibut and less than 20 cm for redfish.

Since 2013, bycatches in the shrimp fishery have risen well above the average, reaching a historic peak of over 1100 tonnes in 2014; they represented 2.6%, 3.6% and 3.3% (in weight) of the northern shrimp catch. This increase is mainly due to a significant rise in small redfish catches.

Bycatch of the most common groundfish species were compared with the results of the research survey in the Estuary and the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence for the same size ranges and years. Bycatch represent less than 1% in number and weight of the survey's abundance and biomass estimates. Catches of pelagic fish and invertebrates cannot be compared to the survey results. For the species that are harvested, there are much fewer bycatches than commercial landings. Bycatches of species that are not harvested can total several tonnes over 17 years. Bycatches of vulnerable species (found in less than 0.25% of the fishing tows) and species at risk (found in 0.4% of the tows) are considered marginal compared to northern Gulf populations because they range from a few specimens to a few hundred kilograms per year. Three taxa are considered vulnerable in accordance with the FAO guidelines in response to UN Resolution 61/105. These are sponges, sea pens and gorgonian corals. Although bycatches in the shrimp fishery are frequent and diversified, they remain low and should not have had an impact on Estuary and northern Gulf populations. Bycatches contribute to an increase in mortality, but this increase is marginal in relation to the normal mortality rates for these populations.

The shrimp trawl used to date in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence is designed to maintain contact with the seafloor throughout a tow. Dragging the foot gear and trawl doors along the seafloor disrupts the substrate, affecting benthic communities and habitats. Canada is also committed, under UN Resolution 61/105, to providing enhanced protection to marine habitats that are particularly sensitive. In compliance with DFO's Policy for Managing the Impact of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas, the likelihood of serious or irreversible damage to benthic areas of biological or ecological importance in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence caused by northern shrimp fishing activities must be assessed based on the information available.

The footprint of shrimp trawling was analyzed by examining the distribution of the cumulative fishing effort since 1982 and from the vessel monitoring system (VMS) since 2012. Shrimp fishing generally takes place at water depths of 200 to 300 m in the Esquiman and Anticosti channels as well as along the two slopes of the Laurentian Channel as far as the Estuary. The traditional fishing grounds are located in areas where surface sediment is fine and consolidated and where natural disturbances have minimal impact. As marine ecosystems, coral beds and sponge grounds are sensitive to bottom trawling due to the sessile nature and low growth rate of these organisms. In the Gulf of St. Lawrence, significant concentrations of sea pens (soft corals) are observed in deep waters in the Laurentian Channel, while sponges are distributed in aggregations throughout the area in question. Benthic communities may also constitute fragile ecosystems in that bottom trawling can reduce their diversity and modify their structure. The great majority of habitats suitable for the establishment of highly diverse benthic communities are found in coastal areas. The cumulative impact of shrimp trawling is likely minimal on sea pen fields and highly diverse benthic communities since the depths targeted for fishing (200–300 m) are not optimal depths for the establishment of sea pen fields (>300 m) or highly diverse benthic communities (<200 m). Since sponge aggregations are found in a wide range of depths, normal fishing activities could alter their distribution. Moreover, significant concentrations of sponges are observed in areas that were intensively fished in the 1980s but where little fishing activity has since been documented. Therefore, sponges appear to have some recovery potential after a period of intensive trawling. With the aim to conserving these ecosystems, fishing closures have been put in place in 2017. See section 7.2 Closing Areas for more detail.

2.6 Stock assessment

Monitoring programs were put in place in the 1980s and 1990s to allow for annual assessment of the fishery and the condition of northern shrimp populations for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Data management protocols have also been adopted to ensure that information collected in monitoring programs is adequately captured, validated and archived. Information obtained from the fishery and research surveys are used to make an assessment of the abundance of shrimp as well as to examine various biological characteristics that correspond with the success of the fishery, abundance of stocks or productivity of the resource.

Data from the commercial fishing catch and effort have been collected since 1982 from shrimp harvesters' logbooks, plant purchase receipts and from the dockside landing verification program. Fish harvesters are required to complete a logbook in which the date, place of fishing and number of hours trawled are logged before arriving at dockside. In addition, all landings must be the subject of dockside verification.

Samples of the commercial catch have been taken since 1982. The samples are reported to the laboratory where the species, stage of maturity and size of individuals are recorded.

Collection of information on fishing activities at sea is provided by the program of observers at sea. Detailed information on the target species and on the incidental catch are recorded by observers.

A DFO trawl survey has been conducted each year since 1990 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence and is designed to assess the abundance of several species including shrimp. A sample of shrimp is taken at each station to determine the species, stage of maturity and size of individuals.

The information on the stock status of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence is examined during the peer review process and conclusions are presented at the meeting of the Estuary and Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee. The state of the resource is determined by examining various indicators from the commercial fishery and the research survey. Commercial fishery statistics (shrimp harvesters' catch and effort) are used to estimate fishing effort and to calculate catch rates by weight or number. Samples from the commercial catch enable the number of shrimp harvested to be estimated by size category and by stage of sexual maturity. Biomass indices are calculated using a geostatistical method from data from the annual trawl. Samples from the survey enable the abundance of shrimp to be estimated by size category and by stage of sexual maturity. An index of exploitation rate is obtained by dividing the commercial catch in number by the abundance estimated by the research survey.

In general, catch rates of the commercial fishery and the biomass index from the research survey are consistent and are considered to be good indicators of the shrimp abundance. Abundance indices for males and females are good indicators of the quantity of females that will be available to the fishery and for reproduction in the following year and are, in combination, the main indicator of the condition of stocks. The main indicator for males and females is calculated from summer fishing data (number of units of effort for June, July and August) and data from the survey (abundance). The abundance of primiparous females that will be recruited into the reproductive stock in a given year may in fact be predicted from the abundance of males in the previous year. Similarly, the abundance of reproducing females that release larvae in spring may be predicted from the abundance of females in the previous year.

The assessment of northern shrimp stocks in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence, which is done every two years, is available in the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) section on DFO website.

2.7 Precautionary approach

As a signatory of the United Nations Agreement on Straddling and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (UNFA), Canada has committed to using the Precautionary Approach in managing its stocks. In 2009, the DFO released a policy statement entitled "A fishery decision-making framework incorporating the Precautionary Approach", which details how the Approach could be applied. To be consistent with the Precautionary Approach, fisheries management plans must include resource use strategies that include, on the stock status axis, a Limit Reference Point (LRP) at the Critical: Cautious zone boundary, an Upper Stock Reference Point (USR) at the Cautious: Healthy zone boundary, and a Removal Reference, which defines the maximum catch level in the Healthy zone. The reference points were established by following DFO guidelines from the document entitled: A Fishery Decision Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach (DFO 2009). Stock status classification zones require determining a limit reference point (LRP) that delimits the critical/cautious zone boundary and an upper stock reference point (USR) that delimits the cautious/healthy zone boundary. The LRP represents the stock status below which serious harm is occurring to the stock. The USR is the stock level threshold below which removals must be progressively reduced in order to avoid reaching the LRP. A third reference point, the target reference point (TRP), can be determined according to broader objectives related to resource productivity or socio-economic factors.

At a peer review process on November 2, 2011, the reference points were determined on the basis of the main stock status indicator. These reference points were used to define a precautionary approach to managing shrimp stocks in the Gulf. Stock status indicators for northern shrimp in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence are updated every year according to the precautionary approach implemented for this fishery.

Reference points were determined using the best information available based on the main stock status indicator. Since northern shrimp change sex, it is important to consider both males (recruitment to the female component) and females (spawning stock) in determining the stock status indicator. The LRP is the minimum level of abundance at which stocks were able to increase even in the presence of predators. However, stock behaviour in the critical zone (abundance lower than the LRP) is uncertain because this level of abundance has not been observed during the period used to determine the reference points. It was proposed to position the USR at a level that determines a sufficiently large cautious zone to allow stocks to respond to management measures that may be implemented. However, the USR value corresponds to stock abundances observed in the absence of predators. If the biomasses of the large groundfish species return to the high values historically observed, it may be necessary to review the USR since it is not certain whether the shrimp stocks could reach abundance levels as high under maximum predation conditions. Finally, it was suggested to establish a TRP at a level higher than the USR because that could allow the implementation of management measures before stocks reach the cautious zone. This target reference point (TRP) could also be adopted based on socioeconomic objectives.

The Figure 4 shows main stock status indicator for each fishing area in 2016

Figure 4  : Main stock status indicator by year and limit (LRP) and upper (USR) stock reference points for each fishing area in 2016
Source: Science, DFO, Quebec Region

see description below

Description

Figure 4 shows the evolution of the indicator of the northern shrimp stock status by fishing area between 1982 and 2016. The green line represents the upper reference point, above which the stock is considered in the healthy zone, and the red line represents the limit reference point below which the stock is in the critical zone. When the indicator is found between the green line and the red line, the stock is considered in the caution zone.

2.8 Perspectives

Stock status trends show three periods of increase since 1982. The first two periods of increase likely occurred during periods of low predation mortality. These two periods were characterized by very abundant age classes, which allowed the stocks to increase and remain at relatively high levels. Currently, stock status has been declining for a few years; it approached the upper stock reference and the precautionary area in 2016. The four northern shrimp stocks in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence had remained in the healthy zone since the early 2000s and stock status indicators show a stationary interannual variability since they have been in the healthy zone. The northern shrimp is a species subject to abundance variations related to variable recruitment and changes in environmental and ecosystem conditions. Given its short lifespan and the short period of availability for fishing, frequent adjustments to catch shares are necessary to monitor this stock's dynamics. TAC-based management according to the precautionary approach limits fishing to protect the reproductive potential of the population to help maintain the healthy zone.

3. Economic significance of the fishery

Since the collapse of the groundfish fisheries in the mid-1990s, the crustacean fisheries have constituted a large part of the Quebec and Atlantic Provinces’ maritime fishery (mainly Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick). In these regions, the shrimp fishery is the livelihood of a multitude of workers, both in the primary industry (catch) and in the secondary industry (processing). The northern shrimp primary sector and the processing industry employ a lot of workers in each region. In all, the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishing industry generates close to 2,000 direct jobs.

The shrimp fishery is distinguished from other fisheries by significantly higher operating costs. Shrimp fishing is mainly done using trawlers ranging in length from 55 to 90 feet. Shrimp harvester use mobile gear (bottom trawl) which translates into higher operation, maintenance and boat repair costs. In addition, since this is a fishery that extends over several months, it requires a great deal of fuel. Also, maintaining helper jobs and cost related to boat (docking and insurance) for a long period is another issue.

Shrimp fishing requires on average 3 to 4 crew members (including the captain). The number of crew members on board depends on three main factors: the amount of work, operational safety and product quality. In the fish harvesters’ opinion, it is difficult to reduce labour needs without jeopardizing work safety on board, unless the mechanical bycatch separator is used. In addition, to maintain product quality, the shrimp must be frozen quickly. The amount of work to be done within a short time is significant, especially when catches are abundant. Therefore, shrimp harvesters' labour costs can represent over 25% of operating costs.

3.1 Landings and landed value

Historically, annual northern shrimp landings have almost constantly increased since the mid-1980s. Only in rare years did they decrease. Between 1987 and 2007, landed volume almost tripled, from 12,259 tonnes to 36,407 tonnes—a 197% increase. Since 2010, landings have declined almost constantly, from 36,286 tonnes to 22,477 tonnes in 2017—a 38% decrease, following the example of annual quota decreases that outnumbered increases during that period (Figure 5).

On average, the Quebec Region accounts for about 60% of the shrimp landings in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Newfoundland and Labrador and the Gulf and Atlantic regions each account for about 20% of northern shrimp landings.

Although landed volume tripled between 1987 and 2010, the landed value of shrimp barely doubled (Figure 6). Also noted is that landed value varied greatly during that period because of the huge variability in the average landed price (Figure 7), so much so that between 1996 and 2014, landed value ranged between $31M and $57M. In 2015, this landed value increased sharply—by 66%—to $94.5M, a historic record. In 2016, despite a slight decrease, landed value still totalled $88.2M, another historic record slightly below that of 2015. This marked increase in landed value is a direct consequence of the increase in the average landed price in 2015 and 2016 (Figure 7). In 2017, the total value of landings totaled $ 54.4 million, a 38% decrease from 2016, due to a 23% decline in landings combined with a 20% decline in the average landed price.

The five First Nations fleets (six licences) participating in the commercial shrimp fishery have recorded the highest shrimp landings in quantity and value every year. In 2016, they totalled 4292 tonnes for a value of $12.3M or 15% of northern shrimp landed volume and 14% of total northern shrimp landed value. The greatest source of income for First Nations comes from the commercial fishery, followed by the snow crab and lobster fisheries.

Figure 5 : Northern shrimp landed volume (tonnes), by region, 1987–2017p
Source: DFO Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Gulf regions. Compilation: Strategic Services, DFO, Quebec Region

see description below

Description

Figure 5 presents northern shrimp landings (tonnes) in Quebec, Gulf Region, Newfoundland and the total of these landings between 1987 and 2017p*.

  Quebec
(tonnes)
Gulf Region
(tonnes)
Newfoundland
(tonnes)
Total
(tonnes)
1987 7 714 2 295 2 295 12 304
1988 8 174 2 254 2 254 12 682
1989 9 586 2 857 2 857 15 300
1990 9 636 3 640 3 640 16 916
1991 9 488 3 273 3 273 16 034
1992 8 211 2 564 2 564 13 339
1993 9 562 2 371 2 371 14 304
1994 10 357 2 855 2 855 16 067
1995 10 070 3 606 3 606 17 282
1996 11 929 3 982 3 982 19 893
1997 12 974 4 540 4 540 22 054
1998 15 104 5 045 5 045 25 194
1999 14 917 5 100 5 100 25 117
2000 17 089 5 691 5 691 28 471
2001 12 739 6 726 6 726 26 191
2002 16 550 6 893 6 893 30 336
2003 17 278 5 400 5 400 28 078
2004 22 347 6 958 6 958 36 262
2005 17 422 6 419 6 419 30 259
2006 19 336 7 739 7 739 34 814
2007 18 148 8 309 8 309 34 766
2008 21 617 5 970 5 970 33 556
2009 21 824 6 392 6 392 34 608
2010 22 191 6 609 6 609 35 409
2011 20 318 6 318 6 318 32 953
2012 18 741 5 922 5 922 30 586
2013 20 661 5 676 5 676 32 013
2014 18 298 5 759 5 759 29 816
2015 18 371 5 752 5 752 29 875
2016 16 529 5 848 5 848 28 225
2017p 11 698 4 458 4 458 20 614

* Preliminary

Figure 6 : Northern shrimp landed value (Millions $), by region, 1987–2017p
Source: DFO Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Gulf regions. Compilation: Strategic Services, DFO, Quebec Region

see description below

Description

Figure 6 presents northern shrimp landings value (Millions $) in Quebec, Gulf Region, Newfoundland and the total value of these landings between 1987 and 2017p*.

  Quebec
(Millions $)
Gulf Region
(Millions $)
Newfoundland
(Millions $)
Total
(Millions $)
1987 18.4 5.0 4.0 27.4
1988 14.1 3.6 6.4 24.1
1989 13.1 3.5 4.7 21.3
1990 11.6 4.3 2.9 18.8
1991 13.8 4.4 4.8 23.0
1992 12.0 3.4 2.4 17.8
1993 14.5 3.1 3.3 21.0
1994 14.3 3.6 3.7 21.6
1995 17.2 5.1 5.2 27.6
1996 22.3 6.5 4.4 33.2
1997 23.2 6.7 5.5 35.4
1998 23.8 7.5 5.9 37.2
1999 25.0 7.3 6.4 38.7
2000 27.4 8.0 6.1 41.4
2001 16.8 8.1 6.6 31.5
2002 22.0 7.9 6.8 36.7
2003 23.6 6.3 5.7 35.6
2004 29.1 7.6 6.8 43.5
2005 23.9 7.3 6.5 37.7
2006 18.9 6.7 5.9 31.5
2007 18.2 7.9 9.2 35.3
2008 25.3 5.8 9.0 40.1
2009 23.4 5.6 6.3 35.3
2010 24.6 6.4 8.1 39.1
2011 29.9 8.3 13.2 51.4
2012 33.9 10.2 12.1 56.2
2013 31.4 7.2 8.5 47.1
2014 33.7 10.2 13.1 57.1
2015 49.5 17.4 27.6 94.5
2016 48.9 16.3 23.0 88.2
2017p 27.6 9.3 17.5 54.4

* Preliminary

Figure 7 : Average landed price of Northern shrimp ($/lb), by region, 1987–2017p
Source: DFO Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Gulf regions. Compilation: Strategic Services, DFO, Quebec Region

see description below

Description

Figure 7 presents the average landed price ($/lb) of northern shrimp in Quebec, Gulf Region and Newfoundland between 1987 and 2017p*.

  Quebec
($/lb)
Gulf Region
($/lb)
Newfoundland
($/lb)
1987 1.08 0.99 0.79
1988 0.78 0.72 1.29
1989 0.62 0.56 0.74
1990 0.55 0.53 0.36
1991 0.66 0.61 0.66
1992 0.66 0.60 0.42
1993 0.69 0.60 0.64
1994 0.63 0.57 0.59
1995 0.78 0.65 0.66
1996 0.85 0.74 0.50
1997 0.81 0.67 0.55
1998 0.72 0.67 0.53
1999 0.76 0.65 0.57
2000 0.73 0.64 0.49
2001 0.60 0.54 0.45
2002 0.60 0.52 0.45
2003 0.62 0.53 0.48
2004 0.59 0.50 0.44
2005 0.62 0.51 0.46
2006 0.44 0.39 0.35
2007 0.45 0.43 0.50
2008 0.53 0.44 0.68
2009 0.49 0.40 0.45
2010 0.50 0.44 0.56
2011 0.67 0.60 0.95
2012 0.82 0.78 0.92
2013 0.69 0.58 0.68
2014 0.84 0.80 1.03
2015 1.22 1.37 2.18
2016 1.34 1.26 1.78
2017p 1.07 0.95 1.78

* Preliminary

What explains the sharp increase in the average landed price of shrimp between 2014 and 2016? Answering that question requires turning to the American market because the increase in landed price is a reflection of the sharp increase in the wholesale price of Canadian northern shrimp on the American market. From mid-2014 to 2016, a major upward pressure on Gulf shrimp wholesale prices occurs, itself the result of the combined effect of two factors: lower North American supply of northern shrimp and the weakness of the Canadian dollar against the American dollar.

The decline in the northern shrimp supply in the United States immediately attracts our attention. The status of the northern shrimp biomass in the Gulf of Maine is quite precarious, to the extent that total allowable catches have fallen in recent years. Northern shrimp abundance has reached its lowest level in 30 years. Biologists report that the resource's various recruitment class indices between 2010 and 2012 were widely below the historical average. Consequently, biomass of a size acceptable to the fishery is at its lowest historical level. Between 2009 and 2012, shrimp landings in New England totalled 3300 tonnes per year on average. In 2013, landings totalled a meagre 300 tonnes; since 2014, fisheries have been under a moratorium.

Cooked, peeled northern shrimp from Canada has Europe (Denmark, the United Kingdom) and the United States as its main markets. Northern shrimp prices on the North American market are a good assessment of the species' price trends on world markets.

Canadian landings are not much better because shrimp quotas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence and in Newfoundland were on the decline in 2016; northern shrimp quotas in an important area in eastern Newfoundland and Labrador decreased by 40%.

On top of that, northern shrimp supply in Europe was also on the decline in 2015. For the third consecutive year, the total quota for European Union member states fell from 13,396 tonnes in 2014 to 10,900 tonnes in 2015, a 19% decrease. In Greenland (Denmark), the second largest shrimp producer after Canada, the quota decreased by 3% in 2015. In short, this decline in the European northern shrimp supply also contributed to higher northern shrimp prices on the American market.

Lastly, the weakness of the Canadian dollar against the American dollar since 2013 has resulted in an increase in incomes on the American market and, on top of that, an increase on the average landed price paid to shrimpers in Canada.

Shrimp prices are influenced by 1) interaction of world supply of and demand for northern shrimp, and 2) shrimp supply (all species of cold water and warm water shrimp). Shrimp prices on the world market are determined by factors that are beyond the control of Canadian fishers and processors: availability of the resource or global shrimp supply (all species), consumer demand, and exchange rates.

Northern shrimp fishing enterprises' liquid assets fell sharply in the late 2000s. This situation is explained by the marked decrease in average landed price during this period and by the volatility of fuel costs. This fuel cost increase resulted in a major increase in shrimpers' operating costs.

3.2 Global shrimp industry

Worldwide production of shrimp (wild and farmed, all species, cold water and warm water) totalled 9 MT in 2016, a 140% increase compared to 1996. This growth is essentially due to the very strong growth of whiteleg shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) (Figure 8).

Figure 8 : Worldwide shrimp production (wild and farmed), 1996–2016
Source: FAO, FishStat Compilation: Strategic Services, DFO, Quebec Region

see description below

Description

Figure 8 presents the worldwide shrimp production (wild and aquaculture) in thousands of tonnes between 1996 and 2016.

  Penaeus monodon (Black Tiger) *
(‘000 t)
Penaeus vannamei (Whiteleg) *
(‘000 t)
Aquaculture Other *
(‘000 t)
Coldwater Shrimp
(‘000 t)
Other Wild
(‘000 t)
Total
(‘000 t)
1996 537 150 230 346 2 479 3 742
1997 480 182 265 355 2 490 3 771
1998 503 201 282 382 2 562 3 930
1999 548 194 309 421 2 784 4 255
2000 631 155 352 458 2 793 4 388
2001 673 280 358 428 2 682 4 421
2002 631 488 348 464 2 644 4 576
2003 724 1 005 322 433 3 184 5 668
2004 707 1 328 329 499 3 068 5 931
2005 665 1 678 324 477 2 992 6 137
2006 642 2 161 342 455 3 143 6 744
2007 594 2 352 350 467 3 097 6 860
2008 720 2 305 376 450 2 982 6 833
2009 769 2 445 318 405 3 034 6 971
2010 565 2 688 377 428 2 917 6 975
2011 691 3 089 265 412 3 155 7 613
2012 672 3 238 258 389 3 225 7 782
2013 712 3 210 319 369 3 204 7 813
2014 705 3 697 277 355 3 337 8 371
2015 711 3 880 285 356 3 376 8 608
2016 701 4 156 324 308 3 486 8 974
Variation 16/96 31% 2667% 41% -11% 41% 140%

* Farm Raised Shrimp

Between 1996 and 2016, there was a 2667% increase in farmed whiteleg shrimp. By way of comparison, worldwide catches of wild shrimp increased by 34% during the same period. Canada is the largest northern shrimp producer (cold water wild shrimp), with a 32% market share. Northern shrimp accounts for 16% of shrimp landings in Canada.

The market share of farmed whiteleg shrimp worldwide has not ceased to increase in the past decade. In 1996, it accounted for 4% of worldwide shrimp production. In 2016, 20 years later, it accounted for 46% of worldwide shrimp production. Farmed whiteleg shrimp represented 80% of worldwide aquacultural shrimp production in 2016 whereas Black Tiger shrimp (Penaeus monodon) accounted for 14% of worldwide aquacultural shrimp production.

In summary, aquacultural shrimp grown in massive quantities in Asia and in South America has an increasingly large share on the world market. Consequently, it directly competes with northern shrimp on its traditional markets (Europe and the United States). In recent years, the worldwide supply of shrimp from southeast Asia has nevertheless declined because of the high mortality of shrimp in the larval or juvenile stages caused by epizootie or early mortality syndrome (EMS). In Thailand, whiteleg shrimp production decreased by 56% between 2011 and 2014. Since 2014, Thai production of whiteleg shrimp has picked up slowly but surely with a total production of 250,000 tonnes in 2014, 300,000 tonnes in 2015 and 300,000 tonnes in 2016. Thai production is expected to increase to 450,000 tonnes over the next two to three years.

4. Management issues

The management issues section provides an overview of the major management issues and issues specific to the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery. Management issues for this fishery have been developed according to the fisheries policies and frameworks in place related to the conservation and sustainability of Aboriginal and commercial fisheries. These include the Sustainable Fisheries Framework (SFF), which brings together several frameworks and policies promoting the conservation and the sustainable use of resources, as well as the Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy to promote the integration of Firsts Nations communities into fisheries management.

The main issues were identified using three sources of information: the fishery's sustainability profile, the EGSAC's meeting minutes and final reports of MSC's certification.

The Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery was certified by the MSC in 2008 (SFAs 9, 10 and 12) and 2009 (SFA 8). However, at the time, the evaluator determined that the shrimp fishery did not achieve satisfactory results for some of the performance indicators. The fishery obtained a certification renewal in March 2014. Significant progress has been made since the first certification. A framework for the application of a precautionary approach with reference points and TAC adjustment rules has been implemented and has been used since the 2012 fishing season. It has been shown that bycatch are very low and that their impact does not threaten populations of species non-targeted by the fishery or the recovery of at-risk species. In addition, there is a management strategy that minimizes bycatch. The deep waters exploited during fishing correspond to a small proportion of potential habitats. However, the evaluation team has indicated that there was no management strategy in place to ensure that fishing does not cause of damage to benthic communities and habitats.

The performance of fisheries managed by the DFO is evaluated using the Sustainable Survey for Fisheries (SSF). This survey reports on the status of each fish stock, as well as the progress made by the DFO in implementing the SFF which constitutes a series of national policies implemented in order to guide the sustainable management Canadian fisheries. The Sustainability Survey for the northern shrimp fishery identifies habitat and ecosystem issues as well as management weaknesses. These elements explain the need to implement management measures to protect habitats and communities that can be affected by fishery activities. Generally, the Sustainability Survey for the northern shrimp fishery corroborates the results obtained by the MSC certifying team.

Over the years, EGSAC members have identified the management issues requiring concerted action by all stakeholders in the shrimp industry. Tools for monitoring fishing activities are often a topic of discussion. In addition, the changes in terms of quota sharing raise questions about the make-up and governance of the EGSAC.

The following issues are a pooling of all these sources and evaluations. These issues are the challenges to be faced by the fishery's management; they will be used to define the objectives of the integrated fisheries management plan found in Section 5.

4.1 Sustainable exploitation of the shrimp

The northern shrimp fishery is a species which is subject to abundance variations related to recruitment, changes in environmental and ecosystem conditions and natural predation. Management measures are in place in this fishery including a total allowable catch (TAC) to limit the exploitation and protect the spawning potential of the population. The limits on the catch insure that a certain proportion of shrimp, particularly the females, will not be fished and will remain available for the reproduction. However, changes in the physical and biological environment of shrimp have significant effects on population dynamics (see section 4.2). To effectively manage the fisheries, an in-depth understanding of the productivity of the population and community being fished is required. Changes in productivity can have serious consequences on the dynamics of all ecosystems and on the sustainability of fisheries.

4.2 Impacts of the fishery on the ecosystem

In compliance with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, the Fisheries and Oceans Canada promotes responsible fishing aimed at reducing bycatch and mitigating impacts on habitat wherever biologically justifiable and cost effective. The Government of Canada is committed to protecting 5% of Canada’s marine and coastal areas by 2017 and 10% by 2020. The 2020 target is both a domestic target (Canada’s Biodiversity Target 1) and an international target as reflected in the Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Target 11 and the United Nations General Assembly’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development under Goal 14. The 2017 and 2020 targets are collectively referred to as Canada’s marine conservation targets. More information on the background and drivers for Canada’s marine conservation targets is available online.

The DFO is establishing Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OEABCM) in consultation with industry, non-governmental organizations, and other interested parties that help meet these targets. An overview of these tools, including a description of the role of fisheries management measures that qualify as OEABCM, is available online.

Specific measures for the conservation and protection of cold water corals and sponges that affect the northern shrimp fishery qualify as OEABCM and therefore contribute to Canada’s marine conservation targets. More information on these management measures and their conservation objectives is provided in Section 7 (Management measures) of this IFMP.

New policies implemented by the Sustainable Fisheries Framework, including the Policy for Managing the Impact of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas and the Policy on Managing Bycatch, call for consideration of the fishery's impact on the ecosystem. In addition, the Species at Risk Act (SARA) requires protective efforts to ensure recovery of species protected by the Act.Therefore, it is necessary to identify and minimize the negative impact that fishing activities can have on the ecosystem.

4.3 Fishery governance

Over the years, and particularly in recent years, the nature and the number of participants in northern shrimp fishing activities have evolved and changed. The Government of Canada is committed to reconciliation with Aboriginal peoples through renewed Nation-to-Nation, government-to-government and Crown-Inuit relationships, focused on the recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership as the foundation of transformative change. Aboriginal peoples have a special constitutional relationship with the Crown. This relationship, including ancestral and treaty rights, is recognized and affirmed by section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 35 contains a wide range of rights and promises that Aboriginal nations will become partners in Confederation on the basis of a fair and equitable reconciliation between Aboriginal peoples and the Crown. The government recognizes that Aboriginal perspectives and rights must be integrated into all aspects of this relationship.

These changes should be reflected in the governance structure that frames the discussions and recommendations in fishery management. Moreover, pressures and demands from stakeholders who were not traditionally involved in the fishery, such as environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), as well as the industry's hope to maintain the sustainable fishery certification, creates new needs for cooperation within the industry. Finally, the implementation of multi-year management plans is another change for this fishery. In this context, it is essential that governance and the administrative process of the northern shrimp fishery be reviewed.

Variations in the biomass of the various Gulf fisheries resources (Greenland halibut, shrimp, snow crab, lobster and other species) sometimes result in spatio-temporal changes in fleet fishing patterns. This phenomenon sometimes leads to fishing area use conflicts as was the case in the 1990s or more recently since 2010. Therefore, it becomes necessary to implement a collaborative structure in order to document and identify solutions to fishing ground use conflicts.

4.4 Economic prosperity of the fishery

No recent data on the economic situation of shrimp fishing enterprises is available. The profitability of shrimp fishery enterprises was affected by high shrimp fishery operating costs and the drop in landed prices in the 2000s. Operating costs, salaries for fishermen's assistants and payroll taxes represent the largest expenses for shrimpers. The cost of at-sea observers is also assumed entirely by shrimpers. The vessel monitoring system (VMS) costs have also been increased these last years.

Other expenses such as the cost fuel, maintenance and repairs of vessels increase these costs. For example, diesel prices went up between 2009 and 2014. In the Gaspé Peninsula and on the Magdalen Islands, it increased from 135.3 cents per litre in April 2011, to 139.9 cents per litre in April 2012, and from there to 155.8 cents per litre in February 2014. In recent years, however, the increase in the average landed price of shrimp has partly offset the increase in fishing operating costs.

There is no indication that the fixed costs of the shrimp fishery will decline in the future in the context of declining resource abundance and average landed price volatility. For several years, fishers have called for licence prices to be lowered in order to increase the profitability of fishing enterprises. These issues have been raised on numerous occasions by EGSAC members over the past few years.

The northern shrimp fishing industry in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence has initiated the certification of this fishery by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) to meet new international market needs, especially those of European market, for sustainable fish product. The ecocertification of northern shrimp fisheries is critical because it allows shrimpers to maintain their access to traditional markets while securing access to new markets. Ecocertification could become an international trade standard for fish products in the coming years. Therefore, it is essential that the shrimp fisheries maintain this certification. The shrimp industry was the first in the Quebec region to undertake certification, helping shrimpers to distinguish themselves in the marketplace as a product of superior quality to that of their Asian competitors.

The quality of shrimp on landing is a key issue since it provides a competitive advantage to shrimpers. However, the handling of shrimp during sorting and the catch sorting time are factors that affect the quality of the product. The mechanical bycatch separator could improve the quality of the product by reducing the catch handling time. The development of handling bycatch methods is therefore essential to maintain the quality of the shrimp.

5. Management objectives

This section defines the objectives as identified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada with members of the Estuary and Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee.

IFMP objectives are set based on the issues described in section 4. The objectives will be used to guide the actions taken by DFO and the industry. Insomuch as possible, these objectives will also be used to determine the degree to which these actions produced results. The objectives are evaluated using the performance evaluation indicators identified in section 10.

5.1 Sustainable shrimp fishing

5.1.1 Help maintain the abundance of stocks in the healthy zone

The precautionary approach framework includes TAC adjustment rules (or decisions) that are established according to the stock status indicators. The decision rules aim to maintain stocks in the healthy zone and should the abundance fall below that of the healthy zone's limit, the exploitation rate is adjusted so that catches decrease and that the reduction in fishing contributes to rebuilding stocks in the healthy zone. However, given the shrimp's short lifespan and the short period of availability for fishing, frequent adjustments to catch shares are required to monitor stock dynamics. Thus decision rules inherently cause variability in TACs from one year to the next. The rules of the precautionary approach (PA) should be reviewed in the coming years. Furthermore, given that the shrimp's physical and biological environments have significant impact on their population dynamics, which has implications on the fishery's catch shares, it becomes increasingly important to identify the factors that affect the populations' productivity so as to be able to adjust the fishery's catch shares and promote a sustainable exploitation.

5.1.2 Studying the predation of northern shrimp by groundfish, particularly redfish

The northern shrimp is a diet component of several species of fishes, in particular Greenland halibut (turbot), redfish and cod. Recently, new year-classes of redfish made their appearance in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. When these fishes will be of larger size, the northern shrimp will probably become a component of their food diet. A follow-up of the evaluation of the predation by ground fish is necessary to better describe the impacts on the populations of northern shrimp in the Gulf St. Lawrence.

5.1.3 Studying the impact of environmental change on the northern shrimp

The changes in environmental conditions observed in the Gulf of St. Lawrence could have an impact on shrimp population dynamics as a result of, among other things, effects on their spatial distribution, growth, reproduction and trophic relationships. Studies on shrimp habitat change must therefore be maintained in order to assess the impact of these changes on this species and implement optimal management measures. Studies are currently in progress to assess the impact of the synergistic effects of different environmental stressors combined with acidification on the physiology, growth or survival of shrimp in the St. Lawrence River, as well as to link physiology with the biogeography of the northern shrimp to facilitate adaptation to climate change.

5.2 Fishery's impact on the ecosystem

5.2.1 Assess the risk of shrimp trawls causing serious damage to the habitat and vulnerable benthic communities

The Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery is carried out with a trawl net that comes into contact with the habitats and organisms established on the sea floor. This objective aims to assess the risk of shrimp trawls causing serious damage to habitat and vulnerable benthic communities. The implementation of a partial strategy is therefore necessary to minimize these risks.

5.2.2 Contribute to the protection of marine and coastal Areas

The marine protected areas (MPAs) and “other measures” are implemented to preserve species and their habitats. The restrictions for each measure support efforts to preserve the various ecosystems. This objective therefore aims to ensure the compliance of shrimpers in MPAs and “other measures”, in particular the prohibition of fishing with gear that comes into contact with the seabed in the coral and sponge conservation sites.

5.2.3 Assess the risk of the shrimp fishery causing serious harm to non-targeted species stocks

The shrimp fishery is carried out using small mesh trawls that catch and retain several marine fish species. Although large individuals are released from the trawl through mandatory use of the Nordmore grate, a certain number of small specimens of commercial species (cod, Atlantic halibut, Greenland halibut, redfish, capelin) and non-commercial species (ray, eelpout, sculpin) remain in the catches. This objective aims to assess the risk of the shrimp fishery causing serious harm to non-targeted species stocks. Management measures may be adopted based on the risk analyses.

5.2.4 Monitor the interactions of the fishery with species at risk

Although bycatch of species at risk in the shrimp fishery is marginal in northern shrimp fishery (see section 2.5) monitoring of these catches is essential to ensure that catches of these species are kept to a minimum. Management measures related to species at risk are detailed in Section 7.8 of this IFMP.

5.2.5 Modernize fishing operations monitoring tools 

Implementing modern monitoring tools should make it easier to collect information on the fishery. The purpose of this project is to promote the use of electronic logbooks in conjunction with satellite tracking of vessel movement for effective monitoring of all shrimp fishery activities. This type of monitoring may be required should georeferenced management measures be adopted.

5.3 Governance of the fishery

5.3.1 Reviewing administrative guidelines

There is a need to develop or modernize ITQ program administrative rules for the various groups involved, in particular to promote the involvement of First Nations communities in consultation and recommendation processes.

5.3.2 Insure the harmonious use of the fishing grounds

The harmonious use of the fishing grounds is essential to reduce the concerns of Snow crab and Greenland halibut fleets, and thus reduce conflicts between these fleets and shrimpers. Therefore, it is necessary to set up a consultation structure in order to document and develop solutions to fishing grounds utilization problems between shrimpers and Snow crab and Greenland halibut fleets.

5.4 Economic prosperity of the fishery

5.4.1 Facilitating fleet restructuring and profitability

To support fleet restructuring initiatives, including those of shrimp harvesters from Groups A and B, DFO is working with the industry to identify possible solutions which would encourage greater flexibility in policy application in addition to supporting the steps taken by organizations and their member companies. The ultimate goal of these adaptations is to encourage fleet restructuring, stabilize their situation and/or reduce their short/medium-term operating costs through partnerships and/or other methods.

5.4.2 Promote the active participation of First Nations communities and the development of their capacities

The DFO stresses the importance of maintaining continuous communication and a collaborative approach promoting First Nations engagement in advisory processes. As the northern shrimp fishery is an important commercial activity within Aboriginal communities, it is essential to support them in their participation in the shrimp fishery as well as in the development and maintenance of their capabilities.

5.4.3   Collaborating on eco-certification work

The participants of the shrimp symposium concluded in December 2012 that significant efforts are required to maintain certification. There is a need to support industry eco-certification-related initiatives within the scope of DFO's mandate. This support could be shown by participating in a cooperative structure for monitoring eco-certification requirements and recommendations.

5.4.4 Facilitate the development of sustainable fishing gears

The development of new fishing gears that have better performance for energy consumption and the environmental impact is important. There is a need to support the industry in this development within the mandate and the scope of DFO’s mandate.

5.4.5   Facilitate the improvement of catch quality.

The development of new technologies and have practices which would allow to improve the quality of the shrimp at landing is strongly wished by the industry. There is a need to support the industry in this development within the mandate and the scope of DFO’s mandate such as the mechanical bycatch separator.

6. Access and allocation

6.1 Quota distribution

The TACs in the SFA are distributed according to the following sharing that was established in 2009:

TACs are available in the Conservation Harvesting Plans (CHPs) that are published in the "Notices to Fish Harvesters" section on the DFO Quebec Region website.

6.1.1 Group A

Since its creation, the Group A has included fish harvesters from Western shore Newfoundland and Labrador and Quebec. At the beginning of 1996, the quota allocated to Group A was divided into 63 equal parts, that is 56 for the Newfoundland and Labrador fleet and 7 for the Quebec fleet. Meanwhile, in 1997 and 1998, 11 licences from the Newfoundland and Labrador fleet were withdrawn under the Groundfish Licence Retirement Program. Individual shrimp quotas related to these licences were distributed to 11 current Western Newfoundland and Labrador groundfish mobile gear fish harvesters.

Western Newfoundland and Labrador fish harvesters currently has only 40 regular licences due to combining of licences

The Quebec fish harvesters, who are entitled to 11.1% of the Esquiman Channel TAC, opted for temporary transfers of individual quotas among themselves, while the fish harvesters on the west coast of Newfoundland and Labrador, who are entitled to 88.9% of this TAC, have so far preferred their individual quotas to not be transferable.

6.1.2 Group B

Group B is comprised of Quebec and New Brunswick companies including First Nations.

An Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQ) program has been in place for the Group B since 1993.

Each enterprise holds Individual Transferable Quotas on a permanent or temporary basis that was initially determined in 1990 as follows:

Table 2: Historic provincial shares by SFA for Group B
Fleet / Stock Estuary Sept-Iles Anticosti Esquiman Total
Part Qc historique 100% 88.89% 64.75% 1.90% 72.17%
Part NB historique 0% 11.11% 35.25% 98.10% 27.83%

Source: DFO, Fisheries Management

6.1.2.1 Adjustment mechanism of the provincial shares between fleets in Group B

Before 2003, changes in the TACs between different zones were synchronized, that is, the percentage change was the same in each zone. During this period, each of the fleets from Quebec and New Brunswick shared 72.17% and 27.83% respectively of the overall quota allocated to the Group B fish harvesters. Sharing for each SFA zone was established as demonstrated in Table 2.

Since 2003, the TAC variations were not synchronized between the SFAs. This situation is causing a problem because it was impossible to conciliate the sharing of the Group B global quotas between the provinces and the sharing in every SFA. This problem was the subject of discussions in the ITQ Management board in order to find a fair solution for both fleets.

The following adjustment process between Quebec and New Brunswick fleet has been implemented since 2005:

  1. An adjustment equal to 75% of the quantity resulting from the difference between the history by SFA and the global history will be allocated to the fleet for which the global quantity of shrimp allocated in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, following the historic shares by SFA, is less than the global history.
  2. The adjustment will be allowed on the basis of 25% in the Sept-Iles SFA and 75% in the Anticosti SFA. This adjustment is calculated from the history by SFA.
  3. The quantity adjusted, more or less, within each fleet in Sept-Iles and Anticosti fishing areas will be shared between shrimp harvesters of each fleet proportionally to the global percentage of shrimp of the Group B held by every fisher in 2002, when the TACs variations were synchronous. These percentages may be modified following permanent transfers between shrimp harvesters. 
  4. There is exchange between the Anticosti and Esquiman SFA:
    • A quantity of shrimp equivalent to 0.7084% of the Group B shrimp harvesters TAC in the Esquiman Channel allocated to the Quebec shrimp harvesters will be exchanged tonne for tonne with the New Brunswick fleet in the Anticosti SFA proportionally to the percentage the shrimp harvesters for each fleet hold in each SFA;
    • The quantity of shrimp exchanged to the Quebec fleet in the Anticosti SFA will be shared between Quebec shrimp harvesters proportionally to the percentage that they hold in the Esquiman channel fishing area;
    • The quantity of shrimp exchanged to the New Brunswick fleet in the Esquiman channel SFA will be shared between New Brunswick shrimp harvesters proportionally to the percentage that they hold in the Anticosti SFA.

7. Management measures

This section presents management measures in place for the northern shrimp fishery. Management measures are presented in the annual Conservation Harvesting Plan and are disseminated through a Notice to Fish Harvesters on the DFO website.

7.1 Fishing areas and season

The fishing season begins on April 1st in each fishing area.

7.2 Closing areas

In 2017, fishery closures were implemented as part of the Coral and Sponge Conservation Strategy for Eastern Canada. The purpose of this strategy is to protect cold water coral and sponge species, communities, and their habitats in the Atlantic region, including the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. A total of 11 areas with high concentrations of corals or sponges were selected for protection. The use of bottom-contacting fishing gear, including trawls used by shrimpers, is prohibited as of December 15, 2017 in the coral and sponge conservation areas, some of which are found in northern shrimp fishing areas (Figure 9). These conservation areas also qualify as OEABCM and therefore contribute to national marine conservation targets. More details on each of these areas are available on the DFO website.

Figure 9 : Coral and sponge conservation areas and the boundary lines of the Gulf shrimp fishing areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence
Source: DFO, RMA, Quebec Region

see description below

Description

This figure illustrates the location of coral and sponge conservation areas with delineations of northern shrimp fishing areas in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Zone Full Name
Anticosti-East East of Anticosti Island Sponge Conservation Area
Anticosti-South-East South-East of Anticosti Island Sponge Conservation Area
Beaugé Bank Beaugé Bank Sponge Conservation Area
Bennett Bank North of Bennett Bank Coral Conservation Area
Parent Bank Parent Bank Sponge Conservation Area
Gulf-Centre Central Gulf of St. Lawrence Coral Conservation Area
Gulf-East Eastern Gulf of St. Lawrence Coral Conservation Area
Honguedo-East Eastern Honguedo Strait Coral and Sponge Conservation Area
Honguedo-West Western Honguedo Strait Coral Conservation Area
Jacques-Cartier Jacques-Cartier Strait Sponge Conservation Area
Magdalen Shallows Slope Slope of Magdalen Shallows Coral Conservation Area

7.3 Fishing gear

Fishing is practiced using an otter trawl with a mesh size that must not be less than 40 mm as stated in Section 73 of the Atlantic Fisheries Regulations, 1985.

The use of the sorting grate is mandatory throughout the shrimp fishing season and specifications are described in the conditions of licence. Use of a second pouch covering the sorting grate is prohibited during the fishing season.

7.4 Exploitation of more than one area

During a single expedition at sea, a shrimp harvester may not exploit more than one fishing area unless an at sea observer who is duly authorized by the Fisheries and Oceans Canada is on board and the licence holder has the necessary licence and allocations authorizing the practice of fishing in other areas.

7.5 Releases at sea

Groundfish caught incidentally during shrimp fishing may be returned to the water. However, Atlantic halibut less than 85 cm, Northern wolfish, Spotted wolfish, Striped Bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population) and Leatherback Turtles must be immediately returned to the water and, if still alive, in the manner that causes the least harm.

Automatic sorters are not permitted aboard fishing vessels to prevent discards of small shrimp, which would not be counted in catch statistics. However, the utilization of the automatic shrimp sorter with increased monitoring measures was authorized in 2017 for the fishing vessel that has on-board processing equipment.

Use of a bycatch separator in the northern shrimp fishery has been authorized since the 2017 season. Shrimpers wanting to use this technology must make a request through the National Online Licensing System and will be subject to certain specific conditions listed in the conservation harvesting plan and in the conditions of licence.

7.6 Surveillance monitoring

Dockside verification of all landings (100%) is required by an independent company at the expense of the industry.

An automatic deduction of 2% is allowed for all landings in the Gulf of St. Lawrence to account for white shrimp and bycatch of small dimensions.

The presence of at sea observers is mandatory for at least 5% coverage by a DFO accredited company and at the expense of the industry.

Bycatch of small groundfish are monitored by at sea observers and a protocol with closure of problematic sectors is applied to minimize important catches (Appendix 3). 

All (100%) the fishing operations have to be exactly detailed before the arrival at dock.

The vessel monitoring system (VMS) is mandatory since 2012. Data must be transmitted every 30 minutes.

7.7 Quota reconciliation

The Department implemented the quota reconciliation since the 2011 season. Thus, any excess beyond the quota incurred during the current season by a licence holder or a fleet in a competitive system will be deducted by a one-to-one factor from the quota (individual or fleet) for the subsequent season. It is the responsibility of the licence holder to comply with the quantity allocated to him (ITQ and IQ) taking into account his transfers and landings, as well as make the necessary arrangements before departing on a fishing expedition to have enough quota to cover the catch that will likely be taken.

7.8 Species at risk

Pursuant to the Species at Risk Act (SARA), no person shall kill, harm, harass, capture, take, possess, collect, buy sell or trade an individual or any part or derivate of a wildlife species designated as extirpated, endangered or threatened. The species at risk in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence likely to be captured during shrimp fishery are: spotted wolffish, northern wolffish and leatherback turtle. Other species could be added during the year.

However, under section 83(4) of SARA, the recovery plans for species at risk listed above allow fishers to engage in commercial fishing activities subject to conditions. All bycatch of these species by shrimpers must be immediately returned to the water and, if the fish is still alive, in a manner that causes it the least harm. Information related to species at risk catches must be reported in the “Species at risk” section of the logbook. Furthermore, information regarding interactions with all species at risk, including the species listed above as well as the North Atlantic right whale, the striped bass (St. Lawrence Estuary population), the blue whale (Atlantic population), the beluga whale (St. Lawrence Estuary population) and the great white shark must be recorded in the Species at Risk section of the logbook.

7.9 Rules for establishing TAC

The decision-making framework based on the precautionary approach includes annual TAC adjustment rules for each shrimp fishing zone. Decision rules were established based on the relationship observed between the main stock status indicator for one year and the harvest for the following year. This relationship was adjusted based on the classification of stock status zones to adjust the exploitation rate according to the resource's status.

The decision rule is based on a stable exploitation rate when the stock is in the healthy zone, equal to the mean rate observed between 1990 and 2010. The harvest rate decreases in the cautious zone and the critical zone, where it is stable at a value four times smaller than that of the healthy zone. The TAC for a given year is based on the main stock status indicator for the previous year and on its position in relation to the stock status classification zones (healthy, cautious and critical). To minimize TAC variations that may arise between two consecutive years, decision rules are completed using a formula that plans the application of a threshold and a cap on TAC changes. No adjustment will be made if the difference between the TAC and the projected harvest of two consecutive years is less than 5%. If the stock is in the healthy zone and the difference between the TAC and the projected harvest is more than 5%, a cap will be applied and the TAC adjustment (positive or negative) will not exceed 15%.

8. Shared stewardship management

The industry participates in managing the northern shrimp fishery through the Estuary and Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee (EGSAC). As presented in Appendix 2, the EGSAC consists of representatives from northern shrimp harvesters' associations, processors, First Nations, provincial governments, and the Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Decision-making measures related to shrimp fishery management measures are also found in the committee's mandate in Appendix 2.

9. Compliance plan

The Conservation and Protection (C&P) Program promotes and ensures compliance with the acts, regulations and management measures for the conservation and sustainable exploitation of Canada's aquatic resources and protection of species at risk, fish habitat and oceans.

Implementing the Program follows a balanced approach of management and enforcement, including:

9.1 Delivery of the Regional Compliance Program

The Conservation and Protection Program is responsible for compliance and law enforcement activities for all regional fisheries as well as the habitat, the CSSP (Canadian Shellfish Sanitation Program) and other activities. Therefore, the amount of patrolling time allocated to a particular fishery is based largely on risk assessment for the resource and setting priorities. The C & P Branch surveillance efforts may vary from one year to another for a given fishery based on set priorities.

C & P monitoring activities of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp harvester fleet mainly focus on the catch, compliance with conditions of license and landings.

9.1.1 Catch and compliance with conditions of license

The At-Sea Observer program is essential for monitoring catch activities of shrimp harvesters. It is the only independent data source that provides the composition of the catch at sea, information that is the basis for monitoring incidental catch. To ensure effective deployment of at sea observers on board shrimp harvesters, DFO has incorporated the requirement to hail out as part of the shrimp harvester conditions of licence.

Through its aerial surveillance program, C&P ensures compliance with fishing areas. During surveillance flights, shrimp harvesters are identified and positioned to check the validity of their fishing licences and conditions of licence.

Fishery officers on board patrol boats may board any fishing vessel they consider appropriate. During boarding they check, for example, compliance of fishing gear (trawls), presence and installation of the sorting grate and maintenance of the logbook.

9.1.2 Landings

The dockside monitoring Program is the primary means of monitoring shrimp landings. This Program is essential to establishing and maintaining management of the catch by individual quota. Fishery officers check shrimp harvester compliance with the conditions of licence related to dockside monitoring by performing direct audits of landings or by checking compliance with requirements related to hail-ins and estimates of catches at sea.

9.2 Consultations

C & P actively participates in preparation and meetings of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Shrimp Advisory Committee. C&P is regularly consulted by resource managers on preparation and implementation of management measures. Discussions or occasional working meetings are also held between DFO and fleet representatives. C&P also participates in informal interactions with all parties involved in the fishery on the wharf, during patrols or in the community to promote conservation.

9.3 Performance of enforcement activities

Surveillance efforts are generally shown as hours of work spent on the northern shrimp fishery and the results shown refer to irregularities found by fisheries officers.

Surveillance efforts can also be determined by the total number of vessels, gear, vehicles, persons and sites checked.

C&P has also set up a program to monitor compliance for the different fishing fleets. Thus, indices related to hail out and hail in are calculated to give a measure of fleet compliance with these programs and the effectiveness of the programs.

9.4 Current compliance priorities

9.4.1 Quota compliance

Shrimp fishing is managed under a system of individual or fleet quota. The four fishing areas have their own quotas. Compliance with individual quotas and overall quotas for fishing areas has to be monitored properly.

9.4.2 Compliance with fishing areas

Individual shrimp harvesters have access to different fishing areas. Compliance with fishing areas, identification of fishing grounds and the origin of catches are necessary for orderly management of the fishery.

9.4.3 Incidental catch/discard

Shrimp harvesters' incidental catch can result from a high concentration of small fish (Greenland halibut, redfish and capelin) on the fishing grounds, catching species at risk or from improper installation of the sorting grate (incidental catch of adult fish). Concentrations of small shrimp or capelin can also result in illegal discard at sea.

9.4.4 Logbooks

Keeping the logbook up to date and recording accurate data as stipulated in conditions of licence are necessary for orderly management of the fishery. Logbooks are an important source of information used for assessing shrimp stocks and for improving knowledge on species at risk.

9.4.5 Gear conflicts

Conflicts of fishing ground usage may require implementing fishery management measures and intervention by C&P to enforce these measures. Many conflicts of fishing grounds usage have occurred since 2010.

9.5 Compliance strategy

C&P monitoring activities of the shrimp harvester fleet mainly concern the catch, fishing efforts and landings.

9.5.1 Catch and fishing effort

As part of regular patrols at sea, boardings are conducted on an opportunity basis. During boardings, the following verifications are systematically conducted: mesh size of shrimp trawls, installation and compliance of the sorting grate, logbook, licence and conditions of licence.

Shrimp harvester compliance with fishing areas is checked during regular aerial patrols. Fishing boats are identified and their positions are recorded.

Regular deployment of at sea observers is ensured. Refusals to take at-sea observers and non-compliance related to hail-out calls are investigated.

9.5.2 Landings

Periodic verifications on the obligations related to hail-ins and dockside monitoring are conducted during the season. The obligation to complete the logbook before arrival at the dock is checked on an opportunity basis.

10. Performance review

This section of the IFMP defines the indicators that will enable assessment of progress towards achieving the objectives identified in Section 5. A list of qualitative and quantitative indicators is proposed. Progress accomplished towards achieving the objectives in relation to the performance indicators will be updated biannually (see Appendix 1).

5.1: Ensure sustainable shrimp fishing based on their productivity
Objectives Expected results Performance indicator
5.1.1
Help maintain the abundance of stocks in the healthy zone
Stock status remained in the healthy zone.

The precautionary approach is applied. The decision rules are revised to reflect new scientific knowledge, changes in shrimp productivity, or within the socio-economic context.
The stock status indicators remained in the healthy zone. The TACs are adjusted with the decision rules. The individual quotas and distribution of the TACs amongst shrimp-fishing zones are respected. Progress is being made in the acquisition of new knowledge.
5.1.2
Studying the predation of northern shrimp by groundfish
The abundance of main predators and the intensity of the predation are assessed. The decision rules are revised to reflect new scientific knowledge or changes in the predation of the shrimp. Stock status of main predators is assessed. Progress is being made in the acquisition of new knowledge.
5.1.3: Studying the impact of environmental change on the northern shrimp Studies are conducted to understand the impact of environmental and ecosystem changes on shrimp. Known environmental and ecosystem changes are taken into account in identifying management measures.
5.2 Minimizing the fishery's impact on the ecosystem
Objectives Expected results Performance indicator
5.2.1
Assess the risk of shrimp trawls causing serious damage to the habitat and vulnerable benthic communities.
The risk of fisheries causing serious or irreversible harm to vulnerable habitats and significant benthic communities are assessed using the Ecological Risk Assessment Framework (ERAF) for Cold water Corals and Sponge Dominated Communities. The Policy for Managing the Impacts of Fishing on Sensitive Benthic Areas is applied. Vulnerable habitats, sensitive species and fishing activities are inventoried and mapped. Partial Strategy is implemented Mitigation measures are adopted if necessary. The mitigation measures are respected during fishing activities.
5.2.2: Contribute to the protection of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Areas of Interest (AOIs) and other measures Shrimpers' compliance with area closures is monitored. Reducing the number of violations, warnings, and irregularities for shrimpers in marine conservation areas.
5.2.3
Assess the risk of the shrimp fishery causing serious harm to non-targeted species stocks
The risks of fisheries causing serious harm to non-targeted species stocks are assessed. The Policy for Managing Bycatch is applied. The magnitude of the bycatch is assessed using the At-Sea Observer Program. The bycatch protocol is applied. The mitigation measures are respected during fishing activities.
5.2.4
Monitor the effect the fishery has on species at risk
Bycatch of species at risk is kept to a minimum. The Policy for Managing Bycatch is applied. The magnitude of bycatch of species at risk is evaluated using the At-Sea Observer Program. The management measures targeting the release of species at risk back into the water is applied. The management measures regarding species at risk are respected during fishing activities.
5.2.5
Modernize monitoring tools 
The electronic logbook and Vessel Monitoring System are used to better monitor fishing activities at sea. The electronic logbook and Vessel Monitoring System are used by all fishing vessels.
5.3  Modernize governance
Objectives Expected results Performance indicator
5.3.1
Revise the administrative guidelines
New administrative guidelines are implemented.

Management committees are formed.

First Nations communities are involved in consultation and recommendations processes
The new administrative guidelines are reviewed and discussed.

Management committee training is discussed.

First Nations communities are members of the management committee
5.3.2
Encourage the orderly use of fishing grounds
The common fishing grounds shared by shrimpers and other fleets are shared with respect.

Implementing a committee responsible for finding solutions to conflicts between shrimp vessels and other fleets.
The number of gear conflicts on common fishing grounds between shrimpers and other fleets continues to decrease significantly.

A committee made up of fishers from different fleets involved in conflicts is implemented and solutions are proposed and accepted.
5.4 Supporting economic prosperity
Objectives Expected results Performance indicator
5.4.1
Facilitating fleet restructuring
Mechanisms are in place to facilitate fleet restructuring. The flexibility required in terms of management policies has been identified.
5.4.2 Active participation of First Nations and development of their abilities DFO programs contribute to strengthening First Nations' ability to actively participate in fisheries management. Technical and financial support provided to First Nations and development of their abilities
5.4.3
Collaborating on eco-certification work 
The conditions of the MSC Certification of Sustainable Fisheries of March 2014 are met. The assessment team's annual audit reports indicate that the action plan to achieve the certification objective conditions has been met.
5.4.4
Facilitate the development of fishing gear that is less damaging to the environment
New trawls and new lines are developed and tested. Research projects are implemented by the industry to develop fishing gear that causes less damage to the environment.
5.4.5
Facilitate improving the quality of shrimp catches
New technologies to improve the quality of the landed shrimp are developed. Research projects are implemented by the industry to develop new technologies which aim to improve the quality of the landed shrimp.

11. Glossary

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.

Automatic shrimp sorters: Device on-board fishing vessels for sorting shrimp by size.

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.

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 that stipulate management measures and certain terms and conditions for regulating fishing activities.

Demersal: Organisms that live and are dependent on the sea floor.

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.

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

Fish: As described in the Fisheries Act, fish includes:

  1.  parts of fish,
  2.  shellfish, crustaceans, marine animals and any parts of shellfish, crustaceans or marine animals, and
  3.  the eggs, sperm, spawn, larvae, spat and juvenile stages of fish, shellfish, crustaceans and marine animals.

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.

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

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

Landings: Quantity of a species caught and landed.

Maximum sustainable yield (MSY): Largest average catch that can continuously be taken from a stock.

Mechanical bycatch separator: Mechanical device on-board fishing vessels intended to mechanically separate bycatch from the targeted species.

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

Nordmore separator grate: Grate installed within the shrimp trawl in order to reduce significantly bycatch of groundfish.

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.

Pelagic: A pelagic species, such as herring, lives in midwater 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.

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

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. Ex: 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.

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.

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

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

Appendix 1 : Monitoring progress toward attaining the management objectives based on performance indicators

This appendix presents the tracking of progress toward meeting management objectives based on performance indicators. The results date back to December 2017 and therefore do not include the latest scientific information.

The research documents, scientific advice, and science responses presented in the results are published in the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) section of the DFO website.

Objective 5.1: Sustainable shrimp fishing

Sub-objective 5.1.1: Help maintain the abundance of stocks in the healthy zone
Performance indicators Results
The stock status indicators remained in the healthy zone 2000 to 2016: The four stock indicators remain in the healthy zone
The TACs are adjusted with the decision rules 2017: Decision rules applied:
  • Estuary (12) : -15%
  • Sept-Îles (10) : -15%
  • Anticosti (9) : -15%
  • Esquiman (8) : 0%
The individual quotas and distribution of the TACs amongst shrimp-fishing zones are respected 2017: the distribution of TACs was based on the percentages established since 2009 found in Section 6 of this document

Respect of quotas in 2016p:
  • Estuary (12) : 100.34%
  • Sept-Îles (10) : 93.45%
  • Anticosti (9) : 83.63%
  • Esquiman (8) : 22.68%
Progress is being made in the acquisition of new knowledge 2015 to 2017: Update of Strategic Research Plan (see Appendix 4 )
2017: Research Document
  • 2017/002: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2016 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

2016: Research Document

  • 2016/004: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2015 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

2015: Research Documents:

  • 2015/032: Physical Oceanographic Conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2014.
  • 2015/013: Chemical and Biological Oceanographic Conditions in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence during 2013.

2014: Research Document

  • 2014/041: A model for simulating harvest strategies to evaluate the effects of changes in assessment frequency: An application to Northern Shrimp.
Sub-objective 5.1.2: Studying the predation of northern shrimp by groundfish
Performance indicators Results
Stock status of main predators is assessed 2016: Science Responses
  • 2016/003: Update of main indicators of the stock status of Greenland Halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2015.
  • 2016/009: Update of indicators of the stock status of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) Cod in 2015.

2015: Science Advisory Reports

  • 2015/041: Assessment of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) cod stock in 2014.
  • 2015/056: Assessment of Greenland Halibut in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (4RST) in 2014.

2014: Science Responses

  • 2014/009: Update of indicators of the status of the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RS) cod stock in 2013.
Progress is being made in the acquisition of new knowledge 2015 to 2017: Update of Strategic Research Plan (see Appendix 4 )
2017: Research Document:
  • 2017/002: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2016 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

2016: Research Document:

  • 2016/004: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2015 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

2014: Research Document:

  • 2014/115: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2014 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Sub-objective 5.1.3 Studying the impact of environmental change on the northern shrimp
Performance indicators Results
Known environmental and ecosystem changes are taken into account in identifying management measures.  Forthcoming

Objective 5.2: Minimizing the fishery's impact on the ecosystem

Sub-objective 5.2.1: Assess the risk of shrimp trawls causing serious damage to the habitat and vulnerable benthic communities
Performance indicators Results
Vulnerable habitats, sensitive species and fishing activities are inventoried and mapped 2017: Research Document:
  • 2017/002: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2016 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Two scientific research projects are being implemented to study the distribution of vulnerable benthic communities (see Strategic Research Plan in Appendix 4 )
2016: Research Document:

  • 2016/004: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2015 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence

2014: Research document:

  • 2014/115: Preliminary results from the groundfish and shrimp multidisciplinary survey in August 2014 in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence

2012: Research document:

  • 2012/094: Assessment of the potential impacts of northern shrimp (Pandalus borealis) trawl fishing on benthic habitats in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Partial Strategy is implemented 2017: A Partial Strategy is implemented (see Appendix 5 )
Mitigation measures are adopted if necessary 2017: Progress made in meeting marine conservation targets
The mitigation measures are respected during fishing activities 2017: N/A
Sub-objective 5.2.2 Contribute to the protection of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), Areas of Interest (AOIs) and other measures
Performance indicators Results
Reduction in the number of violations, warnings, and irregularities for shrimpers in MPAs, AOIs, and other measures Forthcoming
Sub-objective 5.2.3: Assess the risk of the shrimp fishery causing serious harm to non-targeted species stocks
Performance indicators Results
The magnitude of bycatch is assessed using the At-Sea Observer Program 2013 à 2016 : S/O
2012 :
  • Science Advisory Report  2012/066 : Importance of bycatch in the northern shrimp fishery in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence
Progress is being made in the acquisition of new knowledge 2014:
  • Research Document 2014/051: Assessment of Northern Shrimp stocks in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2013: commercial fishery data.
  • Science Response 2014/022: Advice on an acceptable level of Greenland Halibut catches in the Gulf of St. Lawrence for the 2014–2015 fishing season

2012: Research Document

  • 2012/151: Bycatch in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Northern shrimp fishery.
The bycatch protocol is applied 2016: 13 grids were closed, 3 of which were reopened following the application of the bycatch protocol
The mitigation measures are respected during fishing activities 2016: 1 fishing activity in closed grid.
Sub-objective 5.2.4: Monitor the effect the fishery has on species at risk
Performance indicators Results
The magnitude of bycatch species at risk is evaluated using At-Sea Observer Program 2013 - 2016 : S/O
2012 :
  • Science Advisory Report  2012/066 : Importance of bycatch in the northern shrimp fishery in the Estuary and northern Gulf of St. Lawrence
The management measures targeting the release of species at risk back into the water is applied The requirements are included in fishers' licence conditions.
Sub-objective 5.2.5: Modernize monitoring tools 
Performance indicators Results
The electronic logbook and vessel monitoring system are used by all fishing vessels 2012 to 2017:
  • All shrimp-fishing vessels are using a VMS

Objective 5.3: Modernize governance

Sub-objective 5.3.1: Revise the administrative guidelines
Performance indicators Results
The new administrative guidelines are reviewed and discussed 2014: New administrative guidelines have been implemented with the B group for a 3-year period
A group: N/A
Management committee training is discussed 2017: N/A
Sub-objective 5.3.2: Encourage the orderly use of fishing grounds
Performance indicators Results
The number of gear conflicts on common fishing grounds between shrimpers and other fleets continues to decrease significantly 2016: 3 complains received
A committee made up of fishers from different fleets involved in conflicts is implemented and solutions are proposed and accepted. 2017: A committee was implemented to discuss and find solutions to conflicts between shrimp vessels and other fleets.

Objective 5.4: Supporting economic prosperity

Sub-objective 5.4.1: Facilitating fleet restructuring
Performance indicators Results
The flexibility required in terms of management policies has been identified 2013: Update of administrative guidelines of ITQ programs to facilitate fleet restructuring of Group B fleets
2014 and 2016: Modification of the boat replacement policy in the Quebec region
Sub-objective 5.4.2: Promote the active participation of First Nations communities and the development of their capacities
Performance indicators Results
Technical and financial support provided to First Nations and development of their abilities The NFS (since 1992), SDRM (since 2004) and the AICFI (since 2007) support community participation in fisheries management.
2011: Allocations bought back in Quebec that were given to Gespeg First Nation and Viger Maliseet
2008: Licence bought back in Quebec
2004: 2 Licences bought back in New Brunswick
2003: Licence bought back in Quebec
2000: Six licences bought back in Quebec
Sub-objective 5.4.3: Collaborating on eco-certification work 
Performance indicators Results
The assessment team’s annual audit reports indicate that the action plan to achieve the certification objective conditions have been met 2017: The fishery remains certified following the 3rd surveillance audit.
2016: The fishery remains certified following the 2nd surveillance audit.
2015: The fishery remains certified following the 1st surveillance audit.
Sub-objective 5.4.4: Facilitate the development of fishing gear that is less damaging to the environment
Performance indicators Results
Research projects are implemented by the industry to develop fishing gear that causes less damage to the environment 2016 – 2017: Research projects are in progress. See sub-theme B3 of the Strategic Research Plan in Appendix 4
Sub-objective 5.4.5: Facilitate improving the quality of shrimp catches
Performance indicators Results
Research projects are implemented by the industry to develop new technologies which aim to improve the quality of the landed shrimp 2017: Mechanical bycatch separators authorized aboard shrimp vessels under certain conditions
2014–2016: Pilot project on the potential use of an on-board mechanical bycatch separator

Appendix 2  : Mandate of the Estuary and Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee

Terms of reference
January 22 2016

Introduction

Four stocks of Northern Shrimp (Estuary, Sept-Îles, Anticosti and Esquiman) are fished in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The fishery is currently practiced by Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador fishers. First Nations in Quebec and New Brunswick as well as fishing organizations in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia also take part. Gulf Shrimp landings are processed in Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The Estuary and Gulf Shrimp Advisory Committee (EGSAC) serves as the primary consultation mechanism for involving the various stakeholders in this fishery in developing and enforcing the Gulf Shrimp Integrated Fisheries Management Plan. The committee consists of representatives from the harvesting sector (including First Nations), the processing sector, provincial governments and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Subcommittees and working groups may be implemented to cover specific mandates.   

The Fisheries Management Regional Directorate in the Quebec Region, is responsible for overall coordination, consultation and management. 

EGSAC mandate

The EGSAC makes recommendations to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans on management measures aimed at conservation and sustainable use of this fishery resource.

The EGSAC contributes to developing a multi-year integrated management plan that may include, but is not limited to, recommendations on integrated fisheries management plan issues and objectives, rules for setting TACs based on the precautionary approach; regulatory amendments, enforcement, licence policies, seasons, protection of benthic zones; control of the fishing effort and restrictions; bycatch conservation plans, and development activities.   

Guiding principles of the EGSAC mandate

The following principles are the basis for developing EGSAC structure and operation:

Transparency

There is transparency in all EGSAC, subcommittee and working group activities because of open reporting relationships and relevant, precise, accessible, clear and objective information. All participants in the process must have access to this information. DFO organizers distribute the agenda and information necessary for an informed discussion well in advance.

EGSAC expresses the various opinions of stakeholders who participate in the conservation and sustainable use of Gulf Shrimp resources. Representatives from the various groups are also encouraged to share and explain their views and to exchange their concerns and opinions with the other EGSAC representatives.

Responsibility

During EGSAC meetings, participants who represent an entity are expected to express their organization's general views and share the knowledge and experience of those whom they represent. They must then inform the entity they represent regarding operations in the consultation process and explain the reasons for the decisions made. All participants are responsible for the success of the process. The Department must inform participants of the extent to which their opinions or comments were taken into consideration and of why and how the decisions are made.

Inclusive representation

Representation on EGSAC and its subcommittees must be related to the committee's mandate and function. Participation in consultation processes must be balanced and must take into account the various interests in the Gulf Shrimp fishery and its ecosystems.

Effectiveness

All participants must have faith that the process will help in achieving the mandate's objectives. This does not mean that the participants will always agree on opinions, recommendations and the final results. Processes must set and comply with realistic deadlines and acknowledge the various EGSAC representatives' preparation abilities as best as possible.

Efficiency

The size of the advisory committee reflects a balance between the diversity of Gulf Shrimp stakeholders and the number of participants who will help lead a productive discussion. EGSAC representation criteria (to ensure that everyone is on the same page during meetings) were agreed upon and are described later.

Consensus

The committee is not governed by any voting protocols; instead, its goal is to obtain a consensus among its members. Therefore, recommendations for options will be presented to it. The preferred options will be approved based on a consensus approach whenever possible. 

EGSAC Composition

The EGSAC must consist of representatives from the active harvesting, processing and marketing sectors of the shrimp fishery. This includes representatives from First Nations and from organizations that are directly involved in the Gulf Shrimp fishery, as well as representatives from provincial governments and DFO.

The following guiding principles and basic criteria in the EGSAC's mandate were taken into consideration when the committee composition was established (see previous section): 

  1. For effectiveness purposes, the maximum number of participants is set at 35, plus resource persons. 
  2. Every First Nation involved in the Gulf Shrimp fishery is represented on the EGSAC.
  3. For the harvesting sector, EGSAC representation will be established based on a proportion that reflects as much as possible the percentage (%) of the overall TAC for each province.
  4. Provincial member organizations in the harvesting sector must be directly involved (i.e. have quotas and/or be active fishers) in the Gulf Shrimp fishery in their organization.
  5. Representation for the harvesting and processing sectors in each province must be determined by the organizations concerned based on fundamental criteria and other representation criteria or terms of reference specific to each province. Designated representatives will have a minimum two-year term. The list of mandated organizations and individuals will be updated in the IFMP.  

As of 2014, representation on the committee will be as follows: 

First Nations

Quebec

New Brunswick

Newfoundland and Labrador

Prince Edward Island

Nova Scotia

Federal government

Contacts

Any requests to change the EGSAC composition and mandate must be submitted to that committee for discussion, comments and recommendations.

EGSAC operation

Meetings

EGSAC has a general meeting every two years, normally in the first week of February. Subcommittees can meet more regularly, depending on needs and mandate.

The general meeting agenda is distributed a minimum seven days in advance so that each member can prepare for questions. The agenda is reviewed at the beginning of the EGSAC meeting when essential adjustments, if any, may be made.

Secretariat

Resource Management and Aboriginal Affairs in Québec City (DFO) are responsible for the Gulf Shrimp file and coordinates (with the help of two other DFO regions: NL and Gulf) the committee's (EGSAC) internal activities. This mandate includes not only sending notices of meeting to the members, but also meeting logistics.

Minutes

DFO (Resource Management, Quebec Region) is responsible for taking minutes, emailing them to EGSAC in both official languages, and making them available on the DFO Web site.

Observers

Observers are always welcome. However, only committee members can sit at the table and speak during debates and discussions. If observers wish to speak, they must do so through a representative at the table. Any requests to table and/or present documents for consideration must be made in writing to the committee secretariat 15 business days before the meeting.

Media coverage

The meeting is open to the media and the public, but the committee can decide to refuse access to the former.

Subcommittee

1. Follow-up of IFMP action plan

This subcommittee is limited to about 10 people and consists of representatives from the harvesting industry, including First Nations, and the processing industry (MEGSAC members). Members' proposals will be discussed at EGSAC general meetings.

The objective of the subcommittee is to ensure annual follow-up of the IFMP action plan and other management measures affecting Gulf Shrimp fleets. The subcommittee can make recommendations to EGSAC for adjustments or new items to consider responding to the needs identified in the IFMP. The subcommittee and DFO report on progress to EGSAC during multi-year consultations; the subcommittee also works with DFO to ensure not only communication, but also discussion document development, depending on need.

Minutes of subcommittee meetings are distributed to all EGSAC members so that the subcommittee's recommendations can be discussed at the committee level.

2. Other subcommittees or working group may be formed as needed.

Appendix 3 : Bycatch protocol

Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery
Groundfish bycatch protocol for the 2017 season
March 27 2017

1)       Monitoring bycatch levels and area closures

2)       Procedure for reopening closed areas

The duration of the closures is progressive according to the frequency of closures of one sector:

Reopening of closed areas is done according to the following terms and conditions:

Appendix 4 : Strategic research plan

The various scientific research projects can be associated with various components of the integrated management plan for the shrimp fishery in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The issues identified at the end of the consultations to develop the IFMP are as follows:

The issues facing the fishery have allowed us to define the objectives of the integrated management plan and the research projects have been developed to provide potential solutions to these issues.

Scientific projects conducted on the northern shrimp by scientists from the Maurice Lamontagne Institute (MLI) are funded in whole or in part by DFO national programs. They respond directly to priority directions presented in the scientific frameworks and are part of the Ecosystem Science strategic research program. The Benthic Ecology Laboratory projects address the influence of natural and anthropogenic disturbances on benthic biodiversity and benefit from the support of national and international programs related to the evaluation, process or role of biodiversity. The research projects carried out by Merinov and by the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Resources respond to the issues identified by industry. These projects are completed by initiatives funded by the DFO’s core program (research surveys, dockside and at-sea sampling, logbook and Vessel Monitoring System) directly related to monitoring the status of stocks, the ecosystem and the fishery.

Theme A. Shrimp productivity and their sustainable harvesting

To effectively manage the fisheries, an in-depth understanding of the productivity of the population being harvested is required. Changes in the productivity and resiliency of key species can have serious consequences on the overall dynamics of all ecosystems and on the sustainability of fisheries. These changes may be triggered by a number of biological, physical and environmental factors as well as by human activities.

Sub-topic A1. The abundance of shrimp stocks in the Estuary and Gulf

Sub-topic A2. The trophic relationships between the shrimp and its predators

Sub-topic A3. Environmental factors influencing the shrimp's productivity

Theme B. The fishery's impact on the ecosystem

Fisheries Management's decisions must take into consideration targeted and non-targeted species, the ecosystems of which they are a part and the impact of fishing on these ecosystems. This is the basis of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management, which, along with a precautionary approach, constitutes the key to the new sustainable development framework of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. In compliance with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries, DFO promotes responsible fishing aimed at reducing bycatch and mitigating impacts on habitat wherever biologically justifiable and cost effective.

Sub-topic B1. Vulnerable benthic habitats and communities

Sub-topic B2. Species not targeted by the fishery

Sub-topic B3. Fishing gear

Appendix 5  : Partial strategy proposal for the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence shrimp fishery

Appendix 6: Compliance monitoring

Northern shrimp - Enforcement Summary
    Violation Break-down
Year Fishery Officer Patrol Hours* Warning Issued Charges Laid Charges Pending Charges not Approved
2010 2278 5 8 6 7
2011 1771 14 8 - 15
2012 1943 28 13 - -
2013 2174 40 11 - -
2014 1712 22 1 3 -
2015 2552 22 18 1 -
2016 1965 26 2 - 1

Appendix 7: Contact persons

DFO contact - Quebec region
Name Branch Telephone Fax E-Mail Address
Bernard Morin Resource Management (418) 648-5891 (418) 648-7981 Bernard.morin@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Denis Gros-Louis Resource Management and Aboriginal Affairs (418) 648-7679 (418) 648-7981 Denis.gros-louis@ dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Dario Lemelin Resource Management (418) 648-3236 (418) 648-7981 Dario.lemelin@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Kevin Wilkins Aboriginal Affairs (418) 648-7870 (418) 648-7981 Kevin.wilkins@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Marc Naud Conservation & Protection (418) 648-5886 (418) 648-7981 Marc.naud@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Hugo Bourdages Sciences (418) 775-0587 (418) 775-0740 Hugo.bourdages@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Martial Ménard Strategic Services (418) 648-7758 (418) 649-8003 Martial.menard@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Sarah Larochelle Statistics (418) 648-5935 (418) 648-7981 Sarah.Larochelle@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Claudine Renauld Communications (418) 648-7316 (418) 648-7718 Claudine.Renauld@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Magalie Hardy Gaspe Area (418) 368-5559 (418) 368-4349 Magalie.hardy@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Mathieu Morin North shore area (418) 962-6314 (418) 962-1044 Mathieu.Morin@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
DFO contacts – Gulf-Region
Name Branch Telephone Fax E-Mail Address
Sylvie Leger Resource Management (506) 851-2278 (506) 851-7732 Syvie.leger@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Julie Leblanc Aboriginal Affairs (506) 866-2701 (506) 851-7732 Julie.Leblanc@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Marc LeCouffe Resource Management (506) 851-7749 (506) 851-7732 Marc.LeCouffe@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Ron Belliveau Conservation & Protection (506) 851-2088 (506) 851-2504 Ron.Belliveau@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Manon Mallet Economic Research and Analysis (506) 851-6486 (506) 851-7732 Manon.mallet@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Jennifer Smith Resource Management (506) 851-7204 (506) 851-7809 Jennifer.smith@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Steve Hachey Communications (506) 851-7045 (506) 851-7732 Steve.hachey@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Sandra Comeau Tracadie Area (506) 395-7765 (506) 395-1819 Sandra.Comeau@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
DFO contacts – Newfoundland and Labrador region
Name Branch Telephone Fax E-Mail Address
Annette Rumbolt Resource Management (709) 772-4911 (709) 772-3628 annette.rumbolt@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Tony Blanchard Resource Management (709) 772-4680 (709) 772-3628 tony.blanchard@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Ron Burton Conservation & Protection (709) 772-4334 (709) 772-5983 ron.burton@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Patricia Williams Resource Management (709) 772-6151 (709) 772-3638 patricia.williams@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Dave Ball Aboriginal Affairs (709) 772-3732 (709) 772-3638 dave.ball@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Frank Corbett Policy and Economics (709) 772-6935 (709) 772-4583 frank.corbett@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Catherine Hollohan Statistics (709) 772-3128 (709) 772-4232 catherine.hollohan@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
  Media relations (709) 772-3375 (709) 772-4880  
Laurie Hawkins West coast of Newfoundland and Labrador (709) 637-4310 (709) 637-4445 Laurie.hawkins@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Appendix 8: Safety of fishing vessels 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 their vessel against damage and protect the environment. All fishing vessels must be seaworthy and maintained according to the regulations in force by Transport Canada.

In the federal government, responsibility for navigation and regulations and inspections of ship safety is the responsibility of Transport Canada, emergency response and rescue of the Canadian Coast Guard, while Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the management of fisheries resources. In Quebec, the Commission de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CSST) has a mandate to prevent accidents and diseases work on board fishing vessels. All of these organizations are working together to promote culture of safety at sea and protection of the environment from the fishing community of Quebec.

The Standing Committee on the Safety of Fishing Vessels of Quebec, consisting of all the organizations involved in safety at sea, provides an annual forum for discussion and information for all matters related to the safety of fishing vessels such as design, construction, maintenance, operation and inspection of fishing vessels, as well as training and certification of fishermen. Any other topic of interest for the safety of fishing vessels and the protection of the environment can be presented and discussed. Fishers can also discussed security issues related to the management plan of the species (e.g. Fishery openings) in advisory committees held by DFO.

It is worth remembering that before leaving for a fishing expedition, the owner, master or operator must ensure that the fishing vessel is capable of doing its work safely. The critical factors of a fishing expedition include airworthiness and stability of the ship, possession of required safety equipment in good working board, crew training and knowledge of current and forecast weather.

Appendix 9: Reference