Snow crab - Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Foreword

image of snow crab

Snow crab
(Chionoecetes opilio)

The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) fishery in NAFO Divisions 2HJ, 3KLNOP and 4R.  The plan will encompass activities in Crab Fishing Areas (CFA) 1-12, as well as the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives.  This document also serves to communicate information on the fishery and its management to DFO staff, legislated co-management boards and other stakeholders.  This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

This Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) sets out the policy of the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) with respect to the management of the Newfoundland and Labrador Snow crab fishery.  As with any policy, the Minister retains the discretion to make exceptions to or to change this policy at any time.  It is, however, the expectation and intention of DFO to follow the management process set out in this IFMP with a view to contributing to increased certainty and direction for this fishery.

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

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

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

Jacqueline Perry
Regional Director General
Newfoundland and Labrador Region

Table of Contents

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

1. Overview of the fishery

1.1. History of the fishery

The first Snow crab landings in Newfoundland occurred in the late 1960s as by-catch in the groundfish gillnet fisheries in Trinity Bay.  During the 1970s, directed Snow crab fisheries developed along the northeast coast, primarily in NAFO Division 3L, eventually spreading into 3K.  Crab fishing occurred sporadically in NAFO sub-division 3Ps in the 1970s but did not occur on a regular basis until the mid-1980s.  The fishery in Labrador, NAFO Division 2J, began in the mid-1980s. Small-scale exploratory fisheries started in 4R in the late 1980s, initially in Bay St. George and Bay of Islands; with the first significant landings occurring in the early 1990s.  

Individuals who harvested Snow crab in Newfoundland and Labrador prior to the expansion of the fishery in the 1980s were designated as “full-time” licence holders in Division 2J, 3K and 3L.  There are no full-time licences in 3Ps. Virtually all these license holders currently operate vessels that are in the 50’ to 89’11" range (15 to 28m).  Initially, harvesters with full-time licenses operated in areas fairly close to shore, but have since moved to harvest crab beyond 50 miles from land.  

“Supplementary” fisheries were implemented in 2J, 3K and 3Ps in 1985 and in 3L in 1987.  These fisheries were developed to provide harvesters access to Snow crab to supplement incomes negatively affected by declining groundfish resources.  Supplementary licence holders in all areas utilize vessels ranging in length from 40’ to 89’11" (12 to 28m).  In 1994, the supplementary fleet in 3L was divided on the basis of gross registered tonnage (grt).  Those harvesters with vessels 40 grt or greater were designated as the large supplementary fleet, while those vessels of less than 40 grt were designated the small supplementary fleet.  The two 3L supplementary fleets were separated spatially in 1997 and were given access to different quotas. The large supplementary fleet fished farther from land in the same areas as the fulltime fleet. In Divisions 2J and 3K, the supplementary and fulltime fleets fish in the same areas. 

Temporary seasonal Snow crab permits were first issued to operators of vessels less than 35’ (in length overall) in 1995.  As the name indicates, these were temporary permits, issued on a seasonal basis, to small boat enterprises in response to increasing Snow crab resources and declining groundfish resources, on which the enterprises had traditionally depended.  Harvesters developed selection criteria with random draws conducted to determine who would participate, approximately 400 permits were issued.  From 1996 to 1998, temporary seasonal permits were made available to all heads of Core enterprises, with vessels less than 35’.  The number of participating enterprises increased annually as overall Snow crab quotas increased and groundfish declined or moratoria continued.

In 2003, the Minister announced the conversion of temporary seasonal Snow crab permits to inshore Snow crab licenses. In 2008 the Minister announced the Enterprise Combining Policy in some fishing areas where an Independent Core Snow crab licence holder may acquire an additional shares/allocations in their current fishing area from another Snow crab licence holder who is permanently exiting the fishery. This has decreased the number of licence holders , but retains the same number of allocations (individual quotas) as in 2008

In 2012, in response to 3K and 2J Crab quota reductions, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) provided crab licence holders greater flexibility to temporarily and permanently adjust to changing market conditions and resource abundance. This allowed both 2J and 3K Snow crab licence holders to permanently increase their individual quota (IQ) through Enterprise Combining up to a maximum of three times the fleet IQ, an increase from the current two times the fleet IQ.  In 2013 and 2017 respectively, the Enterprise Combining maximum was increased for the 3LNO and 3Ps fleets.

Landings in the Newfoundland and Labrador Snow crab fishery were less than 5,000 mt annually for most of the 1970s and subsequently increased to over 10,000 mt by the end of that decade.  During the 1979 to 1984 period, landings were fairly stable and averaged approximately 12,000mt.  This period was followed by a gradual decline to 6,700mt in 1987.  Regular increases in landings occurred after that and attained an all-time high of 69,000mt in 1999; largely due to expansion of the fishery to offshore areas.  Landings decreased by 20% to 55,400mt in 2000,  46,000mt in 2005 (on a quota of 50,000mt) and this was followed by an increase to 53,000mt in 2009.  Landings have steadily declined every year since then, reaching  28,000mt (on a quota of 29,000mt) in 2018.  This represents a 59% reduction vis-à-vis the all-time high in 1999, and a 47% reduction since the most recent increase in 2009.

1.2. Type of fishery

The Newfoundland and Labrador snow crab fishery is mainly a commercial fishery, and a limited Indigenous food, social and ceremonial fishery.  All fleets have designated trap limits, quotas, fishing areas, and in many cases differing seasons. 

1.3. Participants

In 2018 there were approximately 2,431 licenced enterprises in the less than 99’ LOA snow crab fishery. This number is down from 2007 when 3,498 enterprises with vessels less than 65’ participated in the Snow crab fishery, prior to the implementation of the enterprise combining policy.  The breakdown of snow crab licence holders can be found in Appendix 2.

1.4. Location of the Fishery

This management plan covers Snow crab fisheries in NAFO Divisions 2 and 3 as well as the 4R portion of Crab Fishing Area (CFA) 12.  CFA 13 in northern 4R is co-managed by the Newfoundland and Labrador and Québec Regions.  Management measures for CFA 13 are included in the Zone 13 Snow Crab Integrated Fisheries Management Plan. 

Individuals licensed to fish Snow crab have access to specific fleet sector quotas in the NAFO Division in which they reside.  The location of fishing activity is determined by the location of Crab Fishing Areas within each NAFO Division.  Crab Fishing Areas or Crab Management Areas (CMAs) were established as a mechanism to control the distribution of fishing effort and to prevent local over-exploitation.  Beginning in the mid-1990s, there was an expansion in the range of fishing activity, with vessels fishing as far as the 200-mile limit and beyond.

Effort has increased since the 1980s and has been broadly distributed in recent years (Figure 1).  This expansion can be largely attributed to the demonstrated broad distribution of Crab in virtually every NAFO Division.

Map of locations of fishery sets and catch rates (kg/trap) from logbooks, 2017

Figure 1: Locations of fishery sets and catch rates (kg/trap) from logbooks, 2017

1.5. Fishery characteristics

Fishing Gear - Crab harvesters use fleets of conical baited traps with a minimum legal mesh size of 65mm. The regulated minimum legal mesh size of traps allows small crab, both female and undersize males to escape. Any under-sized crab that are in the traps are returned to the sea by the harvester. In 2013, the use of biodegradable twine was mandatory in all Snow crab traps in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region to reduce crab mortality due to ghost gear. Trap limits vary by NAFO Division (Division), fleet category and by type of Enterprise. Trap limits can be found in Appendix 3.

Seasons - The Snow crab fishing season opens in early April for the island portion of the region and early to mid-May for Labrador, and harvesters participate as environmental conditions in the different fishing areas permit. The fishery generally ends anywhere between mid-June to late July, with variances among different fleets and NAFO Divisions/Sub-divisions. The  most recent Snow crab fishing season for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region can be found in Appendix 4.

Management Style - This fishery is managed under a Total Allowable Catch (TAC). The TAC is based on harvesting a percentage (exploitation rate) of an estimate of the commercially available biomass (fishable biomass). This exploitation rate would aim to optimize the yield while at the same time reduce the risk of over exploiting the resource. The TAC can be found in Appendix 5.

Snow crab is managed by prohibiting the capture of all females, as well as males below 95 mm carapace width.  Primarily, this is achieved by regulating the size of the mesh in crab traps.  This overall management strategy is aimed at ensuring that the total harvest has a relatively low impact on the reproductive potential of the Snow crab resource in which females, undersize males and unharvested legal-sized males are sufficient to maintain Snow crab reproduction.

In the late 1980s, quota control was initiated in all management areas.  Prior to 1995 the Snow crab fishery was conducted on a competitive basis.  After a pilot project in 1995 for some fleets, an individual quota (IQ) program became the standard across all fleets.  Currently all fleets are fishing under this management regime. IQ levels are determined based on the number of licence holders and the fleet quota in a particular fishing area.  IQ levels vary, depending on vessel size, geographical location, and fleet allocations. 

The management approach continues to support the sustainability of the Snow crab resource, and recognizes improvements in the resource due to management measures developed between DFO scientists, DFO fisheries managers and Snow crab fish harvesters.  This approach includes early and shortened fishing seasons, mandatory sorting of undersized Crab on deck, improved soft-shell protocols with effective monitoring, at-sea observer coverage, small quota increases in areas that show improvements, and quota decreases in areas where the resource has declined.

Some fleets will be ready to fish immediately. An early opening in these areas is essential to providing the best opportunity to avoid high incidence of soft-shell Crab during the fishery and to spread the landings over a longer period of time, consistent with market considerations. In addition, grid based soft-shell protocols are implemented all areas. All season closure dates are subject to modification if there is a high incidence of soft-shell Crab encountered in the fishery. An individual quota (IQ) does not guarantee that all crab will be landed.

1.6. Governance

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

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

Extensive consultations are held throughout the region annually, in March, with invitations extended to fish harvester committees representing the different fleet sectors on an area-by-area basis, the Fish Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW), the Association of Seafood Producers (ASP), the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador as well as, the Nunatsiavut Government.  At each meeting there is a discussion of current management measures, an update on the latest science information and discussions on priorities for the upcoming fishery.  Harvesters provide a synopsis of the past years’ fishery in their respective areas, which includes their views on the state of the resource and recommendations for management measures, including quota levels, for the upcoming season.

1.7. Approval process

The recommendations stemming from the consultation process, are assessed by DFO to determine whether the recommendations are reasonable with the scientific advice provided.  The final TAC is approved by the Regional Director General, NL Region in late March/early April.  Allocations, licence fees and licence conditions are prepared and generally are ready for an early April opening date.  The decision is posted annually on the DFO website.

2. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

2.1. Biological synopsis

The Snow crab life cycle features a planktonic larval period following spring hatching, and involves several stages before settlement. Crab grow by molting in winter or spring. Benthic juveniles of both sexes molt frequently, and at carapace width (CW) of approximately 40 mm (~4 years of age) they may become sexually mature. Females are smaller than males. The molt to sexual maturity in females constitutes the terminal (i.e. final) molt, which commonly occurs over sizes ranging from 40 to 75 mm CW. For males, a sexually mature adolescent stage typically occurs before the terminal molt into adulthood, which can occur over a broad size range of 40 – 150 mm CW. 

Legal-size is defined as 95 mm CW. Females do not contribute to the exploitable biomass. It is estimated to take a minimum of 8-10 years for the portion of males from any given cohort to fully recruit to the fishery, and an additional year after achieving legal-size to harden into a commercially acceptable condition. Maximum longevity following terminal molt for males is approximately 7-8 years, but exploitation by fisheries reduces the portion of a cohort that achieves such longevity.

Crab undergo down-slope ontogenetic movements over the course of life, with largest new-shelled individuals of both sexes most common on mud or mud/sand substrates associated with deep and warm areas and smaller crab (or those of old-shell condition) most common on harder substrates associated with shallow and cold areas (Mullowney et al., 2018). Snow crab also undergo up-slope mating migrations during winter or spring, with mating of first-time spawning (primiparous) females typically occurring during winter and multiple-time spawners (multiparous) typically occurring during spring. Primiparous females first molt then mate during the winter breeding season, while adolescent males that migrate into shallow water often molt during the winter following the mating period. Crab not associated with the winter primiparous breeding season typically molt during spring in deeper, warmer water.

Terminal size in crab is affected by a myriad of factors including temperature (with small size promoted in cold conditions for both sexes), as well as population density and fishery exploitation rates (with small size in males promoted at low densities or those subjected to high exploitation rates).

The Snow crab diet includes fish, clams, polychaete worms, brittle stars, shrimp, Snow crab, and other crustaceans (Squires and Dawe, 2003). Predators include various groundfish, other Snow crab, and seals.

2.2. Ecosystem interactions

Production of Snow crab is partially environmentally driven, with cold temperatures during early life history favouring increased recruitment (Marcello et al. 2012). Growth rates are also affected by temperature, with age-at-recruitment older within a cold regime than within a warm regime due to a lower frequency of molting in cold conditions (Dawe et al. 2012a). However, environmental influences can be dampened or altered in the presence of low density or heavy exploitation; top-down fisheries impacts are associated with reduced levels of intraspecific competition and therefore may promote smaller sized individuals in a population.

Several environmental indices including bottom temperatures and the North Atlantic Oscillation are used to develop predictive indices for future biomass and fishery catch per unit of effort (CPUE).

Other Fisheries - Gillnet fisheries for groundfish impose an un-quantified fishing mortality on Snow crab.  Snow crab and Shrimp fisheries occur on common grounds in Assessment Divisions 2HJ and 3K.  Preliminary results of a 2005 study indicated that bottom trawling could be associated with an increased incidence of Crab leg loss.  However, there is no evidence that shrimp trawling imposes a substantial mortality on Snow crab. 

An area of the Hawke Channel has been closed to all fisheries, except Snow crab, during 2002-2012.  An early study found the closure has had no impact on improving Snow crab catch rates due to excessive Snow crab fishing (Mullowney et al. 2012). An area of 3K, in the Funk Island Deep, was first closed to gillnetting in 2002 and was later closed to bottom trawling through a combination of mandatory and voluntary closures in 2005.  No formal studies on its effectiveness have yet been conducted. It remains unknown whether or not closures to other fisheries constitute an effective management mechanism to increase productivity in the resource.

Recent analyses show a substantial increase in predation rates on Snow crab by predatory finfish along the NL shelves during 2013-2016. This predation is most typically associated with crab of small to intermediate size, thus a lag is expected before this increased predation can or will impact the exploitable biomass and fishery.

Lost Gear - Ghost fishing by lost gillnets and Crab traps have been reported, but the associated Snow crab mortality is unquantified.

2.3. Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge/Traditional Ecological Knowledge

Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge and Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the form of observations and comments from Aboriginal groups are considered in management decisions when provided.

2.4. Stock assessment

Resource status is evaluated annually based on trends in exploitable biomass, recruitment prospects, mortality indices, productive capacity, and fishery CPUE. Information is derived from multi-species bottom trawl surveys conducted during the fall in Assessment Divisions 2HJ3KLNO and during the spring in Assessment Subdivision 3Ps. These surveys utilize a Campelen shrimp trawl and have been conducted in the fall since 1995 and spring since 1996. Spring (in-fishery) trawl surveys are considered to be less reliable than the fall (post-fishery) surveys because some population components are relatively poorly sampled during spring when mating and molting take place. Post-season surveys provide the most recent data available to inform the annual regional assessment process (RAP). The assessment of Newfoundland and Labrador Snow crab can be found in Appendix 1.

Biomass estimation is also based on a series of inshore trap surveys conducted by DFO in seven inshore bays in Assessment Divisions 3K, 3L Inshore, and 3Ps. Five of these surveys have time series spanning one or more decades while two were instituted in 2013. Besides DFO trap surveys, a fall collaborative post-season trap survey (CPS) is conducted throughout Divisions 2J3KLNOP4R in partnership with the fishing industry (FFAW). These surveys are also used to estimate biomass and have occurred since 2003. Finally, a late-summer collaborative survey occurring in Assessment Divisions 2HJ was initiated by harvesters in the Labrador Inuit Settlement Area (LISA) in 2013, which is also used to inform the assessment. Beyond fisheries independent information, in-season data from commercial logbooks and at-sea observer coverage are used to assess fishery performance. 

The Crab Management Areas (CMAs) used to manage the fishery are too small to constitute biologically meaningful units for stock assessment. The resource is assessed at larger scales more closely conforming to NAFO Divisions. The Assessment Divisions include 2HJ, 3K, 3LNO, 3L Inshore, 3Ps, and 4R3Pn. More data are available in most offshore areas than for the inshore because trawl surveys do not consistently extend into inshore areas. In addition, at-sea observer coverage and sampling have also been more extensive in offshore than inshore areas.

The stock assessment focuses on quantifying the level of exploitable biomass (≥95 mm CW males) available to the fishery each year as well as the level of recruitment likely to become available over the next two to four years. Pre-recruit males are defined as >65 mm CW adolescent males and are likely to recruit over the next 2-4 years. Biomass and abundance indices are derived through spatial extrapolation of survey catch rates via Ogive Mapping (‘Ogmap’). Raw Ogmap indices under-estimate absolute biomass and abundance due to low catchability of the Campelen trawl for Snow crab (Dawe et al. 2010). To account for this, a complementary fisheries-based biomass estimate is derived to re-scale survey exploitable biomass indices into near-absolute levels. This fisheries-based biomass estimate is developed through Delury depletion analysis of fishery catch rates throughout the season.

Re-scaled exploitable biomass indices are compared with dockside monitored landings to calculate fishery exploitation rates. No re-scaling of spatially-expanded survey abundance estimates of pre-recruits is conducted. Further, small crab (<50 mm CW) and mature female abundance indices are also developed through Ogmap spatial expansion of survey catch rates, but are also not re-scaled. Total mortality in the exploitable portion of the stock is derived by comparing shell-condition specific abundances of large male crab in the population each year. Discard and wastage indices are developed through examination of at-sea observer sampling information, with under-size and soft-shell crab constituting discarded portions of the catch. Reproductive capacity is assessed through quantification of the relative fullness of clutches of viable eggs in mature females; this information is collected during trap and trawl resource surveys.

Commercial catch rates are calculated using a linear mixed model that standardizes raw logbook catch and effort information for time (week), space (CMA), and soak time. These commercial catch rates are used to assess fishery performance. Commercial CPUE is strongly associated with biomass at a 1-2 year lag, with trends in survey biomass indices consistently preceding those in fishery CPUE in all Assessment Divisions.

Several sources of uncertainty affect the assessment. Among them are the potential for survey ‘year effects’ to affect biomass estimation, subjectivity in shell-condition classification to affect biomass, recruitment, or mortality estimation, and limited observer coverage to affect discard and wastage estimation. 

In 2017, landings totaled 34,000 tonnes, a decline of 36% from 2009 and a continuation of a declining trend observed over the past 8 years. In addition, the CPUE was at a two-decade low in 2017 with most divisions at or near historical low while total mortality in exploitable crab has increased to be at or near time-series highs in recent years in all divisions. Finally, while overall recruitment into the exploitable biomass has been very low in recent years, survey and environmental data suggest modest increases in recruitment could occur in some divisions over the next 2-4 years.

2.5. Stock scenarios

Trawl and trap surveys show that the exploitable biomass has been at its lowest observed level during the past 2-3 years . Overall recruitment into the exploitable biomass has been very low in recent years and survey data suggest recruitment available to the 2018 fishery will remain low in most Divisions. Survey and environmental data suggest modest increases in recruitment could occur in some Divisions over the next 2-4 years . The relatively low level of residual biomass (old-shelled adult crab) at all sizes in all Divisions in recent years is concerning given it is generally associated with low CPUE and high levels of discards in the fishery.

Total mortality in exploitable crab has been at or near time-series highs (about 80%) in all Assessment Divisions in recent years. This has been associated with exploitation rate indices above or near long-term median levels in all divisions.

Overall fishery CPUE is at a two-decade low, with most Assessment Divisions at or near historical lows.

The development of relationships between biomass indices and ocean climate indices provides the basis for long-term recruitment predictions. A cooling oceanographic regime in recent years (since 2011) suggests modest increases in recruitment could occur in some Divisions over the next 2-4 years. 

Reproductive potential is largely protected by conservation measures that exclude females and males <95 mm CW, including a portion of the adult (large-clawed) males, from the fishery. Therefore, exploitation at modest levels is considered to have minimal impact on reproductive capacity. However, fishery-induced mortality on small (<95mm CW) males may adversely affect insemination of females, especially when abundance of larger adults is low. Further, excessive removals of large males could reduce intraspecific competition within the stock and negatively affect size-at-maturity, in-turn affecting reproductive capacity.

Fishery-induced mortality on pre-recruits can impair future recruitment. Pre-recruit mortality is reduced by avoidance in the fishery and, when encountered, careful handling and quick release of pre-recruits. Mortality on sub-legal-sized males, including adolescent pre-recruits, can also be reduced by increasing trap mesh size and soak time, as well as trap modifications such as escape mechanisms.

Prevalence of soft-shell legal-sized males in the fishery is believed to be a function of both fishery timing and exploitable biomass level. Mortality on soft-shell males can be minimized by fishing early in spring before recently-molted crabs are capable of climbing into traps. It may be further reduced by maintaining a relatively high exploitable biomass level, thereby maintaining strong competition for baited traps and low catchability of less competitive, soft-shell immediate pre-recruits.

There is concern that the current soft-shell protocol cannot provide adequate protection of immediate pre-recruits due to small grid size and low observer coverage. Measures should be taken to ensure representative observer coverage to better quantify soft-shell prevalence in the fishery.

2.6. Precautionary approach

DFO has committed to implementing a Precautionary Approach into the management of the NL Snow crab fishery. In 2018, Science developed a draft Precautionary Approach and Decision Making Framework for assessment and management of the resource and fishery. A multi-indicator approach based on resource metrics of female egg clutch fullness, fishery CPUE, and fishery discards aims to address protection of stock reproductive capacity and efficiency in resource extraction.

Industry consultations were held in fall 2018 and a number of concerns were raised.  During the winter of 2019 a working group was formed and a meeting was held to discuss harvest control rules and the upper stock reference levels; further discussion is required on these measures.  It is anticipated that the Precautionary Approach will be finalized and accepted in 2020.

2.7. Research

The Department conducts research both independently of and collaboratively with other organizations.   Below are lists of ongoing and future research activities.  These should be considered as provisional, and as such are subject to change. Additionally, considerations such as emerging issues, changing priorities as well as the availability of resources impact what research needs are addressed and undertaken.

2.7.1. Stock health – Short and long-term strategies

A. Ongoing Research Objectives

Discussion: The method of re-scaling exploitable biomass indices from trawl and trap surveys into a comparable basis reflecting near-absolute biomass across Assessment Divisions is deemed an important recent contribution to the assessment and will be maintained for the foreseeable future. The method reduces concerns over catchability and year effects in both trawl and trap surveys that have long featured in the assessment. All efforts will be made to maintain the broad suite of trawl and trap surveys. 

The Collaborative Post-Season Trap survey is being redesigned to better meet the needs of the assessment by enabling more focus on quantifying potential recruitment along with exploitable biomass. Moreover, changes reflect the need for a broader spatial depiction of biomass beyond primary fishing grounds. In the past two years, 20% of survey stations have been changed from fixed to random in the survey footprint. In 2018, and for the next five years, 50% of the stations will be random stratified while 50% will remain as historical fixed stations. The new survey design provides for more complete vertical and horizontal coverage of the resource. Furthermore, small-mesh traps have been more commonly implemented into the survey in recent years toward improving the signal of small crab in the population. In 2018, two-thirds of the stations used a small-mesh trap and there is a goal for 100% of survey stations to be occupied with a small-mesh trap in the next 2-3 years. These changes follow recommendations from recent resource assessments.

B. Medium and Long-Term Research Objectives

Discussion: These long-term research objectives should provide information necessary to more precisely quantify important indicators of stock health and harm including important sources of fisheries-induced and natural mortality.

C. Linkage to Decision Making

2.7.2. Habitat and ecosystem - Five year strategy

A. Ongoing Research Objectives

Discussion: In recent years, DFO Science has developed models of consumption of Snow crab by predators in the ecosystem. Although these models will continue to be examined each year and are now being used alongside other important indices toward predicting future resource status, they are yet to be included in quantitative models assessing their effects on stock status.

The recent and current diet of Snow crab is unknown. A study on the diet is necessary to assess whether or not a poor forage base could be contributing to a recent suite of negative biological indicators on stock status.

The impacts of climate on Snow crab have been relatively well studied. However, the relative effects of climate in relation to fishing have not been studied. There is evidence to suggest that stock status should be improving in the forthcoming years due to favourably cooling ocean conditions since 2011, but there is little corroborating evidence of improving recruitment prospects. Studies on the relative impacts of climate versus fishing are necessary to better inform management on the potential outcomes of fishing Snow crab at various levels of exploitation.

B. Medium and Long-Term Research Objectives

Discussion: Improving the understanding of the relative effects of potentially key resource drivers of fishing, predation, and climate should help enable more informed stock status advice and assist in improving the effectiveness of management decisions moving forward. It is also anticipated that the results of such exercises could help form the basis for enhanced population modelling and simulation moving forward

C. Linkage to Decision Making

3. Economic, social and cultural importance of the fishery

3.1. Total Allowable Catch (TAC) and Quota Allocation

In 2017, the TAC for the Snow crab fishery was 35,419 metric tonnes (tonnes).  This was 10,248 tonnes lower than the 2016 TAC, which was 45,667 tonnes (Figure 2). 

The TAC was as low as 10,500 tonnes in the early 1990s, and by the late 1990s, with increasing crab abundance, it increased to a peak of 61,185 tonnes.  It was relatively stable from 2000 to 2015.  In recent years, however, the TAC has been declining and is down from 50,421 tonnes in 2015 to 35,419 tonnes in 2017.  The majority of the TAC in 2017 was allocated to NAFO Divisions 3LNO and 3K with these areas accounting for 70% and 16.4% of the TAC respectively.  Divisions 2HJ, 4R3Pn, and 3Ps have smaller quotas reflecting resource availability. 

Map of locations of fishery sets and catch rates (kg/trap) from logbooks, 2017

Figure 2: Total Allowable Catch (1995 – 2017). Source: Fisheries Management – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Description
Year Total Allowable Catch (tonnes)
1995 31,375
1996 37,630
1997 44,315
1998 48,642
1999 61,185
2000 51,999
2001 52,267
2002 56,981
2003 55,240
2004 55,240
2005 49,978
2006 46,233
2007 47,663
2008 54,320
2009 54,109
2010 56,064
2011 55,237
2012 52,502
2013 52,077
2014 51,582
2015 50,421
2016 45,667
2017 35,419

3.2. Landings, landed value & average landed price

Snow crab landings in the region increased significantly in the 1990s (Table 1), consistent with increasing resource abundance. Crab landings peaked at 69,131 tonnes in 1999 before fluctuating around the 50,000 tonne level until 2015 when catches started to decline more rapidly to 41,746 tonnes in 2016 and then to 33,605 tonnes by 2017. 

Table 1: Snow Crab Landings and Landed Value, NL Region (1990-2017). Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.
Year Landings (tonnes) Landed Value ($ 000's)
1990 11,053 $13,159
1991 16,276 $19,989
1992 16,441 $12,973
1993 22,922 $31,729
1994 27,922 $87,197
1995 32,343 $176,213
1996 37,970 $96,832
1997 45,746 $91,809
1998 52,672 $102,214
1999 69,131 $236,234
2000 55,434 $267,639
2001 56,721 $218,831
2002 59,417 $229,240
2003 58,356 $263,583
2004 55,675 $300,670
2005 43,992 $140,365
2006 47,281 $100,800
2007 50,208 $177,453
2008 52,749 $179,516
2009 53,462 $164,721
2010 52,230 $155,412
2011 52,951 $250,977
2012 50,516 $217,150
2013 50,817 $220,255
2014 49,948 $257,673
2015 47,301 $257,571
2016 41,746 $274,013
2017 33,605 $325,372

The landed price for Snow crab is highly variable (Figure 3) reflecting market conditions.  Landed prices from 2004 to 2007 were determined every two weeks according to a price-to-market formula negotiated between the harvesters’ union and crab processors and based on an independent market assessment.  Landed prices have been exceeding $2.00/lb since 2014, reflecting strong market demand and supply shortages.  The average landed price reached a record high in 2017 of $4.39/lb.  Due to this high landed price, landed revenue in 2017 was the highest in the time series - more than offsetting any revenue impact from lower landings.

Graphic of Snow Crab Average Landed Price/lb. Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Figure 3: Snow Crab Average Landed Price/lb. Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Description

Figure 3: Snow Crab Average Landed Price/lb. Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Year Average Landed Price/lb
1997 0.91
1998 0.88
1999 1.55
2000 2.19
2001 1.75
2002 1.75
2003 2.05
2004 2.45
2005 1.45
2006 0.97
2007 1.60
2008 1.54
2009 1.40
2010 1.35
2011 2.15
2012 1.95
2013 1.97
2014 2.34
2015 2.47
2016 2.98
2017 4.39

3.3. Landing patterns

The Snow crab fishery typically opens around the first week of April.  Shortened seasons and early closures have been implemented to protect the resource from the effects of fishing during times of soft shell.  Thus, the pattern of landings has become compressed and exhibits peak landings over a very short period as most enterprises attempt to land quotas before such closures occur (Figure 4).

Graphic of weekly Snow Crab Landings.

Figure 4: Weekly Snow Crab Landings. Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.
Note: Weeks not meeting the privacy threshold have been suppressed.

Description

Figure 4. Weekly Snow Crab Landings. Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Week 2015 2016 2017
Week 1 0 214 93
Week 2 1,226 4,028 962
Week 3 1,906 2,933 759
Week 4 2,582 2,932 2,830
Week 5 1,931 4,036 1,335
Week 6 4,320 3,510 2,270
Week 7 4,922 3,840 2,250
Week 8 4,633 3,150 2,314
Week 9 3,777 2,881 3,340
Week 10 5,222 3,445 2,347
Week 11 4,859 2,508 2,780
Week 12 2,337 1,770 3,152
Week 13 3,370 1,996 3,104
Week 14 2,156 1,498 2,056
Week 15 1,801 835 1,763
Week 16 847 1,078 1,085
Week 17 669 552 719
Week 18 584 377 326
Week 19 142 118 61
Week 20 0 0 33

Landing the full Snow crab individual quota (IQ) is a high priority in the fishing plan for most enterprises, given its contribution to the overall landed value of the fleet.  Also, the possibility of declining catch rates and soft shell closures prompts harvesters to land quotas as early as possible.

3.4. Active enterprises (<89’11”)

The total number of active Snow crab enterprises less than 89’11” was 2,188 in 2017, down from 2,964 in 2008 (Table 2). 

Table 2: Number of Active NL Crab Enterprises.
Number of Active NL Crab Enterprises
Vessel Category 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
<40’ 2,157 2,073 1,983 2,118 2,041 1,974 1,909 1,777 1,689 1,619
40’ - 89’11” 807 748 716 700 672 673 633 612 575 569
Total (<89’11”) 2,964 2,821 2,699 2,818 2,713 2,647 2,542 2,389 2,264 2,188

Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

3.5. Fleet dependence

By Fleet and Homeport NAFO

Snow crab is an important fishery for most of the less than 89’11” sector in Newfoundland and Labrador. In 2017, for those enterprises that actually landed Snow crab with vessels less than 89’11”, crab averaged 77% of the landed value. 

As shown in Table 3, dependence is not uniform across NAFO division homeports.  In 2017, the 40’ – 89’11” fleet in Division 3L had the highest average dependence on Snow crab at 93% of total landed value and the 40’ – 89’11” fleet in Divisions 4R3Pn had an average dependence on Snow crab of 22%.  Given the high proportion of value derived from Snow crab, any reduction in revenues from price or catch/quota decreases will have a negative impact on the economic viability of the enterprises in these fleets. 

Table 3: Crab as a Percent of Total Landed Value by Fleet & Homeport NAFO Division for Active Crab Enterprises – 2017.
NAFO Division <40’ 40’ – 89’ All fleets <89’11”
2H - 57% 57%
2J 87% 70% 72%
3K 62% 63% 63%
3L 83% 93% 90%
4R3Pn 27% 22% 25%
3PS 30% 42% 36%
Total 66% 81% 77%

Source: Policy and Economics Branch – NL Region. Data is preliminary and subject to revision.

Factors Affecting Fleet Economics

A number of domestic and external factors impact the economic viability of Snow crab enterprises. Domestically, factors such as resource fluctuations, together with overcapacity and other structural issues, pose significant challenges to the harvesting and processing sectors.  External factors mainly include changes in market demand, global supply, and exchange rates.  Changes to market prices will lead to changes to average raw material prices, which affects fleet economics.

Statistics Canada reports that Newfoundland and Labrador processors exported Snow crab valued at about $410.5 million in 2017 (Table 4).  The major export market for Snow crab was the United States (US), which imported 72.5% of total NL Snow crab in terms of value.  According to Urner Barry, the average market price for 5-8 ounce Snow crab sections increased 17% to US$7.91/lb in 2017.  China was the second biggest market accounting for 16.8% of the export value.  Much of the Snow crab exported to China is for meat extraction and for reprocessing for Japan.  Some of this activity has shifted to other Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia and Vietnam.

Table 4: NL Crab Export Volume and Value - by Destination – 2017.
Destination Volume (tonnes) % of Total Export Volume Value (Millions) % of Total Export value
United States 13,590 70.2% $297.7 72.5%
China 3,475 18.0% $69.1 16.8%
Indonesia 961 5.0% $18.7 4.6%
Vietnam 551 2.8% $10.1 2.5%
Japan 299 1.5% $6.1 1.5%
Hong Kong 184 1.0% $3.8 0.9%
Thailand 183 0.9% $2.5 0.6%
South Korea 38 0.2% $0.9 0.2%
Netherlands 38 0.2% $0.8 0.2%
Singapore 33 0.2% $0.7 0.2%
Grand Total 19,351 100.0% $410.5 100.0%

Source: Statistics Canada

Any appreciation of the Canadian dollar relative to currencies in key markets will have negative impacts on the return to Canadian exporters.  In 2017, about 70% of the NL crab export volume went to the US.  China, at 18%, was the destination for the next highest volume.  Over the past few years, the Canadian dollar has generally depreciated relative to the US currency, positively impacting returns to Canadian seafood exporters.  According to the Bank of Canada, the value of the Canadian dollar relative to the US currency was 0.77 in 2017, which is also similar in 2018.

The level of Alaskan Snow crab landings has traditionally impacted Canadian Snow crab market prices.  Over the past few years, strong demand for Snow crab combined with limited supplies from Alaska has contributed to strong prices. 

According to seafoodnews.com, quotas in Alaska in 2017 were below 9,000 tonnes.  The TAC increased by almost 50% in 2018 to 12,600 tonnes.  The Stock Assessment and Fishery Evaluation Report indicates that both females and market sized males are up 60%.  Biologists also documented a high level of recruitment.  This indicates likely increases in Snow crab supply from Alaska in the future. 

3.6. Processing

In 2017, there were 25 active Snow crab processing plants operating in Newfoundland and Labrador, down from 42 in 2003 (Table 5).  Average landings per plant was 1,344 tonnes in 2017, down considerably from the previous four years and the lowest since 2006 when average landings per plant was 1,212.

Table 5: Crab Processors - Newfoundland & Labrador (1999-2017).
Year Total # of Active Processing Plants Total Landings (tonnes) Average Landings per Active Plant (tonnes)
1999 36 69,131 1,920
2000 36 55,434 1,540
2001 39 56,721 1,454
2002 38 59,417 1,564
2003 42 58,356 1,389
2004 41 55,675 1,358
2005 39 43,992 1,128
2006 39 47,281 1,212
2007 37 50,208 1,357
2008 35 52,749 1,507
2009 34 53,462 1,572
2010 34 52,230 1,536
2011 34 52,951 1,557
2012 30 50,516 1,684
2013 28 50,817 1,815
2014 27 49,948 1,850
2015 26 47,301 1,819
2016 24 41,746 1,739
2017 25 33,605 1,344

Source: Department of Fisheries and Land Resources, Government of Newfoundland and Labrador and DFO, Newfoundland and Labrador Region

4. Management issues

4.1. Fisheries issues

4.1.1. Soft-shell crab

A soft-shelled crab is a recently-molted crab with a new clean and thin carapace (shell) that is easily damaged; these delicate crabs have a high water content and low meat yield, and therefore are not marketable.  Soft-shelled crabs are the incoming recruitment to the fishery; some crabs may be legal-sized but have not final terminally molted.

4.1.2. Season

Although most areas aim to start their fishery in early April, the actual target opening date can vary by fishing area. In addition, the actual opening date is subject to change due to environmental conditions, including unpredictable ice conditions each spring.  The closing dates also vary between areas and have been established to minimize the handling mortality on soft-shelled crab, which is most prevalent in the summer, while at the same time allowing for an efficient fishery.  Season extensions can be detrimental to the resource.  Each year there are requests to extend the fishing season in most areas.

Division 3K harvesters continue to request a fall fishery in times when soft shell crab are encountered early in the season.

4.1.3. Handling of undersized crab

Poor handling of undersized Snow crab can result in a high mortality rate.   Exposure to the air and being dropped will impact all crab, whether hard-shelled or soft-shell.  Soft-shell crabs are more delicate and will have a high mortality rate if not handled gently.

4.1.4. High-grading

High-grading is the intentional release of legal size crab in order to retain crab of a higher quality, larger size and greater value.

4.2. Oceans and habitat considerations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Map of NL and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregions.

Figure 5: Map of NL and Gulf of St. Lawrence Bioregions.

4.2.1. Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

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

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

More information and maps of aquatic invasive species in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found online at http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/species-especes/ais-eae/index-eng.html. Presence/absence maps of all species found in Newfoundland and Labrador can be found on this website.

4.3. Gear impacts

There are concerns with ghost fishing of lost crab traps in the Newfoundland and Labrador Snow crab fishery. Due to the steel construction and quality of the twine used in the construction of a trap, that trap may continue to capture Snow crab even though it may have been lost.  When these crab die, they attract more Snow crab into the trap and therefore the trap continues to fish, potentially for years. Although the amount of lost gear is not quantified, it is believed to be a factor in this fishery. 

4.4. International issues

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

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

5. Objectives

DFO strives to manage the Snow crab fishery based on the following three principles: Conservation and Sustainable Harvest; Benefits to Stakeholders; and, the Co-management of the Snow crab Resource. Using these objectives as guideposts, various strategies and management measures are put into practice, or are in the process of being developed, to maximize the benefit of this resource for all Canadians.

At annual advisory meetings, a review of the Snow crab fishery takes place which includes an assessment of whether these objectives are being met and key management issues are being addressed. As part of this process, the information gathered through other evaluation processes like the Department's Fishery Checklist is used to help identify areas for improvement in the management of these fisheries and through consultation with stakeholders, potential improvements are explored and priorities established.

Conservation and Sustainable Harvest

Long-term Objectives
  • To promote the sustainable utilization of Snow crab stocks.
  • To mitigate the impacts on other species, habitat, and the ecosystem where Snow crab fishing occurs, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function.
  • Within specified resource management constraints, to promote a harvest level that stabilizes industry infrastructure and meets marketing requirements, in the pursuit of economic viability objectives for the Snow crab sector.
  • To promote fishing practices that avoids or mitigates impact on sensitive habitat and species.
  • To ensure that reliable and adequate information is collected for management and science.

Short-term Objectives

Management Measures

  • Maintain the reproductive capacity of the resource.
  • Minimize other sources of fishery induced mortality by:
    • Minimize fishing activity during times of peak soft-shell to avoid discard mortality.
    • Promote proper handling practices and minimizing the by-catch of crab in other fisheries; and
    • Introducing disincentives to high-grading as well as appropriate monitoring and enforcement measures.
  • Maximize yield per recruit through the avoidance of soft-shell crab.
  • Recognize uncontrollable ecosystem impacts such as climate change
  • Recognize and consider effects like predation, oceanographic conditions and disease even though these are currently unknown and uncontrollable.
  • Monitor fishing activity spatially and temporally.
  • Develop a precautionary approach framework when setting exploitation rates for the directed fishery
  • Manage activity in ecologically sensitive areas
  • Promote the development of sustainable fishing practices.
  • Manage by-catch or mortality for all non-targeted species
  • Employ effective monitoring and surveillance tools and mechanisms that ensure compliance with conservation measures
  • Prohibit the retention of female crabs, and male crabs less than 95mm in width.
  • Provide biomass and abundance index estimates through timely science surveys
  • Utilize indicators of stock and fishery change
  • Control fishing mortality by setting annual TAC
  • Prohibit bottom contact fishing in established coral conservation areas
  • Enforce policies and regulations against discarding and high-grading
  • Require the mandatory use of biodegradable twine in all Snow crab traps.
  • Implement a two price system.
  • Require live release of species listed under SARA as endangered or threatened
  • Implement the Soft-Shell Protocol to minimize discarding.
  • An adequate level of at-sea observer coverage, both spatial and temporal use of Vessel Monitoring Systems for all relevant fleets sectors/vessels.
  • Employ a reliable Dockside Monitoring Programs for 100% of inshore landings
  • Employ aerial and dockside surveillance in addition to period audits of landings and catch information outside regular operations
  • The accurate completion of logbooks.

Benefits to Stakeholders

Long-term Objectives
  • To promote the continued development of a commercially viable and self-sustaining fishery.
  • To provide fair access to and equitable sharing of the Snow crab resource.
  • To facilitate an orderly and productive fishery through maximizing benefits within the industry, adjacent communities and the Province.
  • To provide the fishermen with increased opportunity to develop long-term business plans.
  • To promote the development and use of good fishing practices.

Short-term Objectives

Management Measures

  • Stabilization of the access and allocation process.
  • No new access to this fishery.
  • Fulfill obligations with respect to fishery resources as defined in the relevant lands claim agreements.
  • Respect aboriginal rights to fish.
  • To provide equitable and fair access to Snow crab resources there must be respect for:
    • Economic viability and dependence.
    • Historical attachment to the Snow crab fishery.
    • Adjacency to the resource.
    • Transparent sharing principles.
  • Limit access to the fishery through licensing.
  • Continue the Individual quota regime for all licence holders.
  • Consult with Aboriginal management boards on TAC levels in or adjacent to their territorial waters.
  • Maintain the evergreen IFMP.
  • Use a pro-rate approach to quota increases and decreases across all relevant fleets/sectors.

Co-management of Resource

Long-term Objectives
  • To promote a co-management approach, providing licence holders with an effective sharing of responsibility, accountability and decision making, within the constraints of the Fisheries Act.
  • To promote a fishery that operates in an efficient and orderly manner for both harvesters and processors.

Short-term Objectives

Management Measures

  • Improved management of fishery through co-management.
  • Inclusive and open consultations in the development of the IFMP.
  • Management decisions are made through the annual harvest planning process.
  • Establish an effective consultative process for resource users to participate in the decision-making process
  • Establish Multi-stakeholder Working Groups (WG) designed to examine domestic issues, e.g. Conservation and Compliance WG, Closed Areas WG, Marine Stewardship Council Certification WG, etc.
  • Manage agreement between DFO and the harvesters re: Collaborative Science Post-Season (CSPS) annual crab trap survey.
  • Ensure that the fishery operates in an efficient and orderly manner
  • Organize annual Crab RAP meetings
  • Organize the annual Snow crab advisory meetings.
  • Convene Working Groups as appropriate
  • Collaboratively define science priorities and design appropriate research activities
  • Clearly define roles and responsibilities for both the fishing industry and DFO.
  • Implement supportive management measures: 
    • DFO legislative instruments and
    • timely announcement of management plans

6. Access and allocation

The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements as outlined in this IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

6.1. Access / Licencing

The Snow crab fishery is a limited entry fishery.  There are no new licences available.  Only fish harvesters who held a licence in the previous year will be eligible for renewal of that licence in the current year.  However, an eligible fish harvester can acquire a Snow crab licence by receiving one through reissuance from an existing licence holder.

Enterprise combining is a voluntary fleet self-rationalization policy which allows most fish harvesters to acquire Snow crab IQ from an enterprise that is exiting the industry.  The only means by which a licence holder may acquire additional Snow crab IQ is if they currently hold a Snow crab licence; eligibility conditions, such as fleet and area also apply. Rationalization occurs when the exiting fish harvester’s licence is cancelled, and associated IQ is redistributed via combining. Once a licence is combined, the total number of licences is now described as licence shares. The number of licences issued by the Department will decrease over time; however, the number of licence shares / allocations will remain constant.  Enterprise combining of Snow crab licences is permitted in Divisions 2HJ, 3KLNO, 3Ps Offshore and Area 10 inshore.  Enterprise combining is not authorized in Area 11 inshore (3Ps) and 4R3Pn.

In 2018 there are approximately 2,431 licenced enterprises in the Newfoundland and Labrador Snow crab fishery, down from 3,498 in 2007. 

6.1.1. Aboriginal access

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

A subsequent program, Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management (AAROM) Program, was designed for Indigenous groups to collaboratively develop capacity and expertise to facilitate their participation in aquatic resource and oceans management. Fishing licences issued to Indigenous organizations are done so under the authority of the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licenses Regulations.

6.1.2. Buddy-up arrangements

With the introduction of the temporary seasonal permits, now inshore licences, in 1995 the Department also introduced a new buddy-up policy, at the request of industry.  Under this policy, two licence holders in the same crab fishing area and operating from a vessel registered by either licence holder in the arrangement are authorized to share fishing operations on one vessel in order to reduce expenses.  Buddy-up arrangements are authorized in most inshore crab fishing areas in Newfoundland and Labrador Region with the exception of Fishing Area 11 (Placentia Bay) and Area 13.  There are various buddy-up restrictions applied throughout the region.  Fish harvesters should consult with a DFO licensing office to discuss any additional licensing policies that may have implications for buddy-up.

6.1.3. Buddy-up arrangements

The Fulltime and Large Supplementary fleets based in 3L have been fishing Snow crab in NAFO Divisions 3LNO outside 200 miles since 1995.  In addition, there have been 4 licenses issued to operators of Newfoundland and Labrador based vessels 65’-99’ LOA, known as the midshore fleet.  The areas fished are a continuation of the traditional fishing grounds of Snow crab that have been fished for decades.  From a genetic perspective, Snow crab in 2J3KLNO belongs to the same stock.  There have been many requests for additional access to the area outside the 200 mile limit.  However, given the distance required to steam to access this fishing area, very high catch rates are required and no new access has been granted.

6.2. Quotas and allocation

6.2.1. Total Allowable Catch

A TAC for Snow crab is applicable.  Following this decision, allocations are established for each Crab management area and fleet sector.  These allocations are determined based on scientific advice, annual consultations with industry stakeholders and sharing arrangements that have been in place for a number of years.

Fleet shares are not in place in the Snow crab fishery; however, quota adjustments (increases or decreases) in the Snow crab fishery are calculated on a pro-rata basis, to fleets that currently have access to the specified Crab Fishing Area.

Inshore fleets - Most Snow crab allocations in inshore areas are to the less than 40’ enterprises.  There are a limited number of enterprises in the 40’ – 44’11” size also in this fleet in 3KLPs.  All future quota increases or decreases in the inshore areas will be allocated to the inshore fleets.  Access for inshore fleets will be limited to inshore areas.

Supplementary and Full-time fleets - Most Snow crab allocations in the offshore areas (e.g., outside inshore areas) are to 40’ to 89’11” enterprises in the Supplementary and Fulltime fleets. Present and future quota increases and decreases in the offshore areas will be allocated to the Supplementary and Fulltime fleets.

6.2.2. Principles for declining quotas

Principles to guide allocation decisions in the event of quota declines are provided for two areas: outside 200 miles from land in Divisions 3LNO and inside 200 miles in all other areas.  This separation was necessary because in the area outside 200 miles there were relatively new exploratory licenses and substantial replacement/compensatory quotas for 3L full-time and supplementary fleets.

Principles for 2GHJ, 3KLPs, 4R3Pn: In the event of quota declines, reductions will be shared pro-rata by fleets who share the allocations in the area where these declines occur.

Principles for outside 200 miles - 3LNO: A threshold level for the area outside 200 miles is established and will include the 1999 allocations for the full-time (1,450mt) and supplementary fleets (3,000mt), and the 1998 allocations to exploratory license holders (800mt) for a total of 5,250mt. In the event of quota declines in this area all reductions will occur for the exploratory license holders in the reverse order that allocations were made until the overall 3LNO quota outside 200 miles is reduced to 5,250mt. Quota reductions lower than this base level will be allocated on a pro-rata basis to all fleets fishing in this area.

6.2.3. Crab Fishing Areas (CFA)

At one point there were over 40 different CFAs used to regulate the Snow crab fishery in Newfoundland and Labrador.  Increasing the number of CFAs was used as a mechanism to explore areas that had not been fished in the past. There is no scientific reason to have a large number of CFAs as scientific advice is generally provided on a NAFO Division basis. A map of CFAs can be found in Appendix 6.

The use of separate CFAs is a management tool to spread fishing effort over a wide area (Table 6).  This broad distribution of fishing effort reduces the probability of over-exploitation of localized areas.  However, there are concerns of misreporting of catches from some areas, creating flawed data for assessment purposes.  The use of smaller fishing areas is also a useful allocation tool, especially in inshore areas, as it facilitates quota distribution for license holders.

Table 6: Snow Crab Fishing Areas (CFA).
NAFO Division Inshore Crab Fishing Areas Offshore Crab Fishing Areas
2J Inside 40 miles Outside 20 miles
3K 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, 3BC 4
3LNO 5A, 6A, 6B,
6C, 8A, 9A
Nearshore (NS),
Midshore (MS),
8B, 8Bx,
MS extended (MS-EX),
3L extended (3L-EX),
3L outside 200 miles (3L200),
3N outside 200 miles (3N200)
3O outside 200 miles(3O200)
3Ps 10A, 11E, 11W,
11S, 11Sx
10BCD, 10X, 11S
4R, 3Pn 12A, 12B, 12C,
12D, 12E, 12F,
12G, 12H
South of Table Point - 3Pn, Area 12 outside of 8 miles,
Bay of Islands,
Bay St. George

7. Management measures for the duration of the plan

7.1. Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

Scientific advice and assessments are the basis for the determination of the TAC.  The TAC for Snow crab is determined annually.  The TAC is the total Snow crab that is permitted to be caught for that year.  Each year the TAC and fleet quotas have fluctuated by management area.  As increases and decreases are required the fleet quotas are adjusted, as well as the overall TAC. The latest TAC announcement can be found at:  http://www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/decisions/index-eng.htm . The table can be found in Appendix 5.

7.2. Fishing season

Fishing seasons have become progressively earlier and the fishery has recently been prosecuted predominately in spring, resulting in reduced incidence of soft-shell Crab in the fishery.  Since approximately 2002, the Snow crab fishing season opens in early April for the island portion of the region and early to mid-May for Labrador, and harvesters participate as environmental conditions in the different fishing areas permit.  The fishery generally ends anywhere between mid-June to late July, with variances among different fleets and NAFO Divisions/Sub-divisions. DFO announces season opening and closing dates using Notice to Fishers .

Because of the high occurrence of soft-shell in some areas, the introduction of shorter fishing seasons was a key component of the overall management measures employed since 2009.  The season end date is variable among the different fishing areas, as illustrated in Appendix 4. Season dates may be adjusted due to environmental conditions. The seasons are regulated through a variation order under the authority of the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985.

7.2.1. Fall fishery

There is no fall fishery for Snow crab in the Newfoundland and Labrador region. Since 2005, the management of snow crab management in all of Newfoundland and Labrador has had early and shortened fishing seasons as one of the key measures to minimize handling mortality on soft shell crab which are prevalent during the summer months. 

In 2017, a pilot project was conducted by Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Marine Institute on crab meat yield to assess the biological and market viability of a fall Snow crab fishery. This project found that Snow crab typically caught during a fall fishery were comprised of high levels of new hard shelled animals.  These new hard shell crab make up the exploitable biomass for the next seasons fishery. New hard shelled crab are crab that moulted earlier in the year and have a good shell condition but a low meat content, which affects market price of Snow crab in the following season. 

7.3. Control and monitoring of removals

7.3.1. Minimum mesh size

Snow crab is managed by prohibiting the capture of all females, as well as males below 95 mm carapace width.  Primarily, this is achieved by regulating the size of the mesh in crab traps.  This overall management strategy is aimed at ensuring that the total harvest has a relatively low impact on the reproductive potential of the Snow crab resource in which females, undersize males and unharvested legal-sized males are sufficient to maintain Snow crab reproduction.  The minimum mesh size of 5.25” mesh is the regulated minimum mesh size, but 5.5” mesh has become widely used.  The minimum mesh size requirement is regulated through the Atlantic Fishery Regulations, 1985.

7.3.2. Individual Quotas (IQ)

Throughout the 1970s, 1980s and into the 1990s all Snow crab fisheries in the Newfoundland and Labrador Region were conducted on a competitive basis.  IQs were implemented as a pilot project in NAFO Division 3K 1995.  In addition, all enterprises that were issued temporary seasonal permits, now the inshore fleet, during 1995 were issued an individual, or boat, quota.  The use of IQs expanded after 1995 and currently all fleets are fishing under this management regime. Fleet catch history and fleet representation determined the specific quota sharing arrangements.  IQs are adjusted to correspond with fleet quotas.  The IQs are managed as a condition of licence.

7.3.3. Trap limits

Effort is managed through a maximum number of traps per licence holder.  Snow crab trap limits are based on each fleet and/or area.  As well, it is based on whether an enterprise is a single licence holder, whether the licence holder is in a Buddy-up arrangement, or whether the crab licence is combined.   The trap limit requirement is managed as a condition of licence. Individual fleets may request modifications to the trap limits in specific areas.  The current Snow crab trap limits for each fleet can be found in Appendix 3.

7.3.4. Soft-shell crab

Soft-shelled crab is a recently-molted crab with a new clean and thin carapace (shell) that is easily damaged; these delicate crabs have a high water content and low meat yield, and are not retained in the fishery.  These soft-shell crabs are future recruits that will enter the fishery, if they survive.  It can take up to a year for shells to harden and meat content to progress to a commercially acceptable level. When there is a high occurrence of soft-shell Crab there may be a high percentage of dumping at sea, as these animals are not suitable for market purposes.  Very few soft-shell animals that are discarded, survive. Generally, the fishery closed during the August to September period.  This period was identified as a time with high probability of occurrence of soft-shell Crab, although data are limited.

Grids that close due to high incidence of soft-shell Crab are closed for the remainder of the season.  In addition, reductions to the fishing season were made in areas where there had been a high incidence of soft-shell Crab encountered in early summer. 

Currently the fishing season generally ends anywhere between mid-June to late July, with variances among different fleets and NAFO Divisions/Sub-divisions.

The Soft-Shell Protocol has the fishing areas of NAFO Divisions 2J, 3KLNOP, and 4R divided into soft-shell monitoring grids (10 minutes X 10 minutes) for the offshore fleets, and quadrants (5 minutes X 5 minutes) for the inshore fleets.  The soft-shell protocol forms a part of the Snow crab fishing licence conditions.

The grids, for the respective Crab Fishing Area, and the corresponding coordinates are available at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website here.  Each grid is designated with a letter and number (e.g. U45).  Within the inshore crab areas soft-shell grid has been subdivided into 4 quadrants. Each quadrant is designated with a letter, number and a letter (e.g. U45-D).  A quadrant is one grid divided into four equal quarters, known as quadrants.  The four quadrants in a grid are defined as:

  1. The upper left (NW) quarter will be quadrant A;
  2. The upper right (NE) quarter will be quadrant B;
  3. The lower left (SW) quarter will be quadrant C; and
  4. The lower right (SE) quarter will be quadrant D.

The closure of grids in Divisions 2HJ, 3K, 3Ps and 4R occurs when the incidence of soft-shell Crab, in an individual grid/quadrant, observed by an at-sea observer is 20% or greater.  In Division 3LNO individual grids close when the incidence of soft-shell Crab, in an individual grid/quadrant, observed by an at-sea observer is 15% or greater.

A Notice to Fishers will be issued 24 hours prior to closing an area to advise harvesters of the imminent closure. When a grid is closed harvesters are required to stop fishing in that grid when notified.  All crab gear must be removed from the closed grid/quadrant during the fish harvesters’ next fishing trip.

A list of current of soft-shell Crab closures can be found at the Fisheries and Oceans Canada website here.

Since the implementation of the Soft-Shell Protocol, there have been numerous grid/quadrant closures throughout the Region. By far Division 3K, CFA 4, has had the most soft-shell closures since 2004, with 2J and 3LNO having the next highest, respectively and 3Ps, 4R3Pn having the least. A summary of the number of closures in each NAFO area can be found in Appendix 7.

7.3.5. Logbooks

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

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

7.3.6. Dockside monitoring

The Department requires accurate and timely landings information in order to ensure the TAC is not overrun, and to ensure fish harvester’s catches are accurately accounted.  Since 1995 all license holders have been required to have all Snow crab landings weighed and dockside monitored.  The objective of the Dockside Monitoring Program (DMP) is to provide accurate, timely, and independent third party verification of landings. DMP constitutes one of the primary sources of landing information on which the management of the fishery is based.  The fishing industry and the Department are therefore dependent on the accurate verification of landings by Dockside Monitoring Corporations (DMCs).  All DMP costs are the responsibility of individual fish harvesters or fishing fleets.  It is also the responsibility of license holders to ensure that monitors who oversee the offloading of catches are certified by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The dockside monitoring requirement is managed as a condition of licence.

7.3.7. At-sea observers

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

The fishing industry will be responsible for the payment of fees to cover at-sea observer coverage.  Harvesters will contribute 2/3 a cent per pound for the amount of their respective individual quota.  Harvesters will be required to carry at-sea observers at the request of DFO.  Licence conditions are not valid unless a letter of arrangement from the observer company is attached confirming payment of observer fees.  All fleets will contribute to the overall observer coverage for the Snow crab fishery.  The at-sea observer requirement is managed as a condition of licence.

7.3.8. Vessel monitoring system

As a means to ensure compliance with regulations regarding the area fished, mandatory use of the electronic vessel monitoring system (VMS) was fully implemented in all full-time and supplementary fleets in 2004.  By utilizing VMS in the fishery there will be more accurate, complete and detailed statistical information on the location and timing of fishing activity for DFO Science and Fisheries Management, and improved compliance for restricted areas and more efficient deployments of C&P resources. 

Most vessels 40’ and greater directing for Snow crab are required to have an automatic location and communication (ALC) device that will transmit the vessel’s position to DFO.  Fish harvesters are responsible for covering the cost of the ALC device, its installation on-board their vessel, and the cost of operations. The VMS requirement is managed as a condition of licence.

7.3.9. High-grading

High-grading is the intentional release of legal size crab in order to retain crab of a higher quality and/or larger size and therefore of greater value.  There is an industry-managed two-price system for Snow crab in Newfoundland and Labrador, with a higher price paid for animals with a carapace width of 101 mm or greater.  The two-price system includes a 20% tolerance, allowing an enterprise to be compensated with the highest price for the first 20% of undervalued legal size Crab.  This tolerance is aimed at reducing the incentive to high-grade. 

7.3.10. Handling of undersized crab

In order to ensure conservation of the resource, measures have been implemented to reduced handling mortality of undersized Snow crab.  One of these measures, the “Small Crab Escape Mechanism”, was adopted to allow for escapement of undersized crab (< 95 mm carapace) from pots sitting on the ocean floor, as opposed to the small crab being retained and sorted from the pots onboard the fishing vessel, thereby reducing exposure to handling mortality.  Since 2009 all fish harvesters are permitted, on a voluntary basis, to install in each Crab trap (pot) a “small Crab escape mechanism” to allow undersized crab to escape.

Harvesters, who choose to use the escape mechanism, can install no more than three of these mechanisms in any one crab pot.  These mechanisms are to be installed one mesh above the bottom ring of the trap, in the horizontal orientation.  The opening diameter of the mechanism cannot be less than 95 mm.  Only professionally fabricated mechanisms provided by or through the Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador are currently permitted.

7.3.11. Crab handling mortality

Mortality of young crab (pre-recruits) can significantly affect future recruitment.  Data indicate that Crab mortality from poor handling practices can be significant.  Although the impact is not quantifiable, DFO continues to have concerns with the possible mortality levels inflicted on crab from handling practices related to high grading, discarding, and particularly of soft-shell crab.  As well, the duration that crabs are out of the water before being returned has an impact on mortality.  The longer crabs are out of the water the higher their mortality when returned to the water.  It has been suggested that crab be sorted immediately and those being discarded be within 10 minutes of being caught to improve their chance of survivability.  In addition, Snow crab discarded by being thrown over the side of the vessel also has an impact on the survivability of the crab.  

The offshore fleets have been directed through a condition of licence, “To reduce handling mortality of crab, you shall immediately sort on deck all crab and expeditiously release back into the marine environment all undersized and soft-shelled crab in a manner causing them the least harm. Sorting of crab below deck is not permitted.”  Many offshore vessels have had chutes installed to softly return crabs to the water, and sorting tables to assist with the on-deck sorting of crab.

7.3.12. Reporting of lost gear

In order to get a better understanding of potential lost gear impacts in the Snow crab fishery, mandatory reporting of lost gear was introduced in 2009.  Any harvester fishing for Snow crab in the NL Region is required to report all lost Snow crab traps/pots to the nearest DFO Conservation and Protection Detachment office within 48 hours of landing, from the fishing trip during which the harvester became aware of the loss.  The reporting of lost gear requirement is managed as a condition of licence.

7.3.13. Lost traps

Due to the steel construction and quality of the twine used in the construction of a trap, that trap may continue to capture Snow crab even though it may have been lost.  When these crab die, they attract more Snow crab into the trap and therefore the trap continues to fish, potentially for years.  To prevent this from happening in the future the use of Biodegradable twine became mandatory in 2013 in all Snow crab traps. There are concerns with ghost fishing of lost crab traps in the Newfoundland and Labrador Snow crab fishery. Although the amount of lost gear is not quantified, it is believed to be a factor in this fishery. 

In 2010, the Marine institute, in co-operation with DFO and fish harvesters, completed a study on an appropriate biodegradable twine to be used in the Newfoundland and Labrador Snow crab fishery.  Based on the results of the study, and the feedback received during the consultation process, it was determined that the best biodegradable twine for the Newfoundland and Labrador Region was a soft laid, untreated 96-thread cotton twine. This twine shall be installed in an unobstructed horizontal opening made by opening a minimum of three (3) meshes starting on the side, two vertical meshes up from the lower portion of each trap, fastened to an extremity of the mesh opening, interlaced once through each mesh and fastened to the other extremity.

The unobstructed horizontal opening shall be created by cutting / removing at least four adjacent mesh bars (legs) and the biodegradable twine shall be installed by interlacing the twine across the opening to form a configuration like the letter “W”.  More information on the installation of biodegradable twine can be found on the following Marine Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador website.

Alternatively fish harvesters may attach “small crab escape mechanism” to traps using the soft laid, untreated 96-thread cotton twine.  They shall sew in each escape mechanism by interlacing the biodegradable twine once through each mesh and attachment hole along the entire perimeter (all four sides) of escape mechanism in such a manner so as to allow the escape mechanism to fall out of the trap when the biodegradable twine breaks.  To enable retention of the escape mechanism with the trap, one corner of the escape mechanism (one attachment hole of the escape mechanism) can be attached to one mesh of the trap using a non-corrodible metal clip (hog ring) or non-degradable twine. 

7.3.14. Trip / Week landing limits

Trip limits and weekly limits help maintain orderly harvesting and processing throughout the Snow crab season.  This management measure is the responsibility of both sectors of the industry (harvesters and processors) and is developed based on the consensus of industry participants. At the request of industry, trip and weekly limits are included in Snow crab licence conditions.  Changes to these measures will only be considered if there is written agreement to make these changes from both sectors of the industry.  The trip / weekly limit requirement is managed as a condition of licence.  The current trip / weekly limits can be found in Appendix 8.

7.4. Species at Risk Act requirements

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

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

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

7.5. Licensing

Fish harvesters should consult with a DFO licensing office to discuss any additional licensing policies that may have implications for Snow crab.

Information on the Newfoundland and Labrador Fisheries Licensing Policy can be found online.

7.6. Habitat protection measures (Closed areas)

7.6.1. NAFO Division 3O vulnerable marine ecosystems closure

Since 2008, the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization has undertaken extensive scientific research on Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VME).  This is part of its ongoing commitment to an ecosystems approach to fisheries management and to fulfill its commitment to prevent significant adverse impacts on VMEs as called for by the UN General Assembly resolution 61/105.

Following the identification by NAFO of areas identified as VMEs in the NAFO Regulatory Area, fourteen areas have been closed to bottom contact fishing, including two closures that cover a portion of Division 3N to protect significant concentrations of corals and sponges, to prevent the significant adverse impacts of bottom fishing activities on VMEs known to occur or likely to occur.  One closed area is in 3O where the Snow Crab fishery occurs.  No vessel shall engage in bottom fishing activities in the following area in Division 3O defined by connecting the following coordinates.

42 degrees 53 minutes 00 seconds North, 51 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds West to
42 degrees 52 minutes 04 seconds North, 51 degrees 31 minutes 44 seconds West to
43 degrees 24 minutes 13 seconds North, 51 degrees 58 minutes 12 seconds West to
43 degrees 24 minutes 20 seconds North, 51 degrees 58 minutes 18 seconds West to
43 degrees 39 minutes 38 seconds North, 52 degrees 13 minutes 10 seconds West to
43 degrees 40 minutes 59 seconds North, 52 degrees 27 minutes 52 seconds West to
43 degrees 56 minutes 19 seconds North, 52 degrees 39 minutes 48 seconds West to
44 degrees 04 minutes 53 seconds North, 52 degrees 58 minutes 12 seconds West to
44 degrees 18 minutes 38 seconds North, 53 degrees 06 minutes 00 seconds West to
44 degrees 18 minutes 36 seconds North, 53 degrees 24 minutes 07 seconds West to
44 degrees 49 minutes 59 seconds North, 54 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds West to
44 degrees 29 minutes 55 seconds North, 54 degrees 30 minutes 00 seconds West to
43 degrees 26 minutes 59 seconds North, 52 degrees 55 minutes 59 seconds West to
42 degrees 48 minutes 00 seconds North, 51 degrees 41 minutes 06 seconds West to
42 degrees 33 minutes 02 seconds North, 51 degrees 00 minutes 00 seconds West.

7.6.2. 3LNO Snow crab conservation exclusion zones

Closed areas in the Snow crab fishery have been established through consultation using a co-management approach with fleet committees in various crab management areas throughout the region. In NAFO Divisions 3LNO various Snow crab Conservation Exclusion Zones have been established along some of the boundaries of the 3L Inshore and 3LNO Small Supplementary fleets crab management areas.  Evolution of these conservation zones was based on two premises, to improve the delineation between adjacent crab management areas, and to establish “no fishing/crab refuge” corridors between management areas as an enhancement for resource conservation and long-term stock viability.  These exclusion zones are one-half or one nautical mile wide corridor and extend along the full length of the area boundary as identified below.  A map outlining these closed areas can be found in Appendix 9 and 10.

Crab Fishing Area 5A - Bonavista Bay

Two Snow crab Conservation Exclusion Zones have been established for Bonavista Bay.  The Bonavista Bay Exclusion Zone A is one nautical mile wide stretching across the mouth of the bay from Cape Bonavista to Cape Freels.  The Bonavista Bay Exclusion Zone B is a one-half nautical mile wide corridor running along the northern, eastern and southern boundaries of Outer Bonavista Bay. 

Bonavista Bay Exclusion Zone A is defined as the area contained within straight lines drawn between the coordinates:
48 degrees 42 minutes N, 53 degrees 06.5 minutes W; to
49 degrees 15 minutes N, 53 degrees 29.5 minutes W; to
49 degrees 15 minutes N, 53 degrees 28 minutes W (Cape Freels); to
48 degrees 42 minutes N, 53 degrees 05 minutes W (Cape Bonavista); and back to
48 degrees 42 minutes N, 53 degrees 06.5 minutes W.

Bonavista Bay Exclusion Zone B is defined as the area contained within straight lines drawn between the coordinates:
Cape Bonavista at 48 degrees 42 minutes N, 53 degrees 05 minutes W; to
48 degrees 42.5 minutes N, 53 degrees 05 minutes W; to
48 degrees 42.5 minutes N, 52 degrees 37.45 minutes W; to
49 degrees 14.5 minutes N, 52 degrees 51.55 minutes W; to
49 degrees 14.5 minutes N, 53 degrees 27.65 minutes W; to
49 degrees 15 minutes N, 53 degrees 28 minutes W (Cape Freels); to
49 degrees 15 minutes N, 52 degrees 51 minutes W; to
48 degrees 42 minutes N, 52 degrees 36.47 minutes W; and back to Cape Bonavista.

Crab Fishing Area 6A –Trinity Bay

Two Snow crab Conservation Exclusion Zones have been established for Trinity Bay.  The Trinity Bay Exclusion Zone A stretches one nautical mile wide across the mouth of the bay from North Head to the northern part of Baccalieu Island.  Trinity Bay Exclusion Zone B stretches one-half nautical mile wide across the northern boundary of Trinity Bay outer. 

Trinity Bay Exclusion Zone A is defined as the area contained within straight lines drawn between the coordinates:
48 degrees 10 minutes N, 52 degrees 48.708 minutes W; to
48 degrees 21 minutes N, 52 degrees 54.523 minutes W; to
48 degrees 32.964 minutes N, 53 degrees 00.872 minutes W; to
48 degrees 32.964 minutes N, 52 degrees 59.369 minutes W; to
48 degrees 21 minutes N, 52 degrees 53.025 minutes W; to
48 degrees 10 minutes N, 52 degrees 47.209 minutes W; and back to
48 degrees 10 minutes N, 52 degrees 48.708 minutes W.

Trinity Bay Exclusion Zone B is defined as the area contained within straight lines drawn between the coordinates:
48 degrees 42.02 minutes N, 53 degrees 05.09 minutes W; to
48 degrees 42 minutes N, 52 degrees 36.47 minutes W; to
48 degrees 41.5 minutes N, 52 degrees 35.25 minutes W; to
48 degrees 41.52 minutes N, 53 degrees 05.09 minutes W; and back to
48 degrees 42.02 minutes N, 53 degrees 05.09 minutes W.

Crab Fishing Area 6B – Conception Bay

A Snow crab Conservation Exclusion Zone has been established for Conception Bay.  This exclusion zone is one-half nautical mile wide running along the eastern boundary of Conception Bay Outer. 

Conception Bay Exclusion Zone is defined as the area bounded by a line drawn from:
48 degrees 10 minutes N, 52 degrees 22.38 minutes W to
47 degrees 48.3 minutes N, 52 degrees 12.82 minutes W to
48 degrees 48.3 minutes N, 52 degrees 13.57 minutes W to
48 degrees 10 minutes N, 52 degrees 23.13 minutes W and back to
48 degrees 10 minutes N, 52 degrees 22.38 minutes W.

Crab Fishing Area 6C– Eastern Avalon

A Snow crab Conservation Exclusion Zone has been established for Eastern Avalon.  This exclusion zone is a one-half nautical mile wide corridor running along the northern, eastern and southern boundaries of Crab Fishing Area 6C. 

The Eastern Avalon Exclusion Zone is defined as the area contained within straight lines drawn between the coordinates:
Cape St. Francis at 47 degrees 48.3 minutes N, 52 degrees 47.46 minutes W to
47 degrees 48.3 minutes N, 52 degrees 12.82 minutes W to
47 degrees 26 minutes N, 52 degrees 03 minutes W to
46 degrees 55 minutes N, 52 degrees 17.97 minutes W to
46 degrees 55 minutes N, 52 degrees 56.54 minutes W (at the shoreline) to
46 degrees 55.5 minutes N, 52 degrees 55.3 minutes W (at the shoreline) to
47 degrees 55.5 minutes N, 52 degrees 18.46 minutes W to
47 degrees 26 minutes N, 52 degrees 03.73 minutes W to
47 degrees 47.8 minutes N, 52 degrees 13.34 minutes W to
48 degrees 47.8 minutes N, 52 degrees 47.46 minutes W (at the shoreline) to Cape St. Francis.

Crab Fishing Area 8A – Southern Avalon

The Snow crab Exclusion Zone in Crab Fishing Area 8A is one-half nautical mile wide and runs along the northern, eastern, southern and western boundaries of.  The Southern Avalon Exclusion Zone is defined as the area contained within straight lines drawn between the coordinates:

46 degrees 55 minutes North, 52 degrees 56.54 minutes West (at the shore); to
46 degrees 55 minutes North, 52 degrees 17.97 minutes West to
46 degrees 28 minutes North, 52 degrees 31 minutes West to
46 degrees 12 minutes North, 53 degrees 32 minutes West to
46 degrees 37.36 minutes North, 53 degrees 32 minutes West (Cape Pine) to
46 degrees 37.82 minutes North, 53 degrees 31.28 minutes West (at the shore) to
46 degrees 12.5 minutes North, 53 degrees 31.28 minutes West to
46 degrees 28.4 minutes North, 52 degrees 31.6 minutes West to
46 degrees 54.51 minutes North, 52 degrees 18.93 minutes West to
46 degrees 54.51 minutes North, 52 degrees 55.77 minutes West (at the shore) back to
46 degrees 55 minutes North, 52 degrees 54.54 minutes West.

Crab Fishing Area 9A – St. Mary’s Bay

One Snow crab Conservation Exclusion Zone has been established for St. Mary’s Bay.  The St. Mary’s Bay Exclusion Zone A is one-half nautical mile wide corridor along the western boundary of the outer portion of CFA 9A. 

St. Mary’s Bay Exclusion Zone A is defined as the area contained within straight lines drawn between the coordinates:

46 degrees 49.16 minutes North, 54 degrees 11.20 minutes West at the shoreline to
46 degrees 29.82 minutes North, 54 degrees 18.29 minutes West to
46 degrees 30 minutes North, 54 degrees 18.98 minutes West to
Cape St. Mary’s at 46 degrees 49 minutes North, 54 degrees 12 minutes West.

Small Supplementary Fleet

Crab Fishing Area - Near Shore, Mid Shore, 8BX

Two special Snow crab Conservation Exclusion Zones have been established for the Small Supplementary fleet sector, one in the Nearshore quota area and the other in 8BX.  The Nearshore Conservation Exclusion Zone is one-half nautical miles wide stretching along the north-west boundary of the Near Shore Area. The 8BX Conservation Exclusion Zone is a one-half mile corridor stretching along the eastern and southern perimeter of 8BX.

Nearshore Conservation Exclusion Zone is defined as the area bounded by a line drawn from coordinate:
47 degrees 26 minutes N, 52 degrees 03 minutes W; to
49 degrees 15 minutes N, 52 degrees 51 minutes W; to
49 degrees 15 minutes N, 52 degrees 50.25 minutes W; to
47 degrees 26 minutes N, 52 degrees 02.25 minutes W; and back to
47 degrees 26 minutes N, 52 degrees 03 minutes W.

8BX Conservation Exclusion Zone is defined as the area bounded by lines connecting the following points:
46° 55’ North, 48° 32’ 30.75” West and following an outer boundary running 30 miles inside the 200 mile limit to
43° 50’ 37.35” North, 54° 30’ West to
43° 51’ 07.45” North, 54° 30’ West and following an outer boundary running 30.5 nautical miles inside the 200 mile limit to
46° 55’ North, 48° 33’ 14.5” West to 46° 55’ North, 48° 32’ 30.75” West.

7.7. Additional management measures

7.7.1. Quota reconciliation

Quota reconciliation is the process of automatically deducting inadvertent quota overruns on a one-for-one basis from one year to the next, with the licence holder paying for the full allocation, and fishing only that portion remaining following adjustments for previous year’s overruns. This procedure will be applied to all sectors participating in the Snow crab fishery.  In an effort to address quota overruns DFO began implementation of quota reconciliation for the Snow crab fishery in 2011.  Current year quota overruns are reconciled prior to the start of the subsequent fishing season. 

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

7.7.2. Bitter crab disease

Bitter Crab Disease (BCD) is caused by a microscopic blood parasite, and will usually kill newly molted Crab within a year.  Although it is harmless to humans, it causes the meat to taste bitter.  Bitter Crab can contribute to a decline in the stock, and impairs market quality.  Bitter Crab has a cooked appearance; crab legs are opaque white and in early stages may show white streaks on the translucent underside.  There had been a broadly-distributed incidence of Bitter Crab Disease during 1996-2006, but the distribution contracted primarily to Division 3K in 2007.  Prevalence has changed little overall, remaining low in recent years. The usually red-brown back may have a pink or orange tint.  In order to prevent the spread of the disease:

7.7.3. Transport of crab

Under existing regulations, transport licenses are required to transport Snow crab by vessels other than fishing vessels.  Transport licenses will only be issued for transporting Snow crab that has been landed on shore. Transshipment from fishing vessels is not authorized.

7.7.4. Barnacle crab

A barnacle is a marine arthropod that attaches themselves permanently to a hard surface, such as Snow crab shells.  In the Newfoundland and Labrador Region barnacle crab are especially prevalent in Divisions 3LNO and sub-Division 3Ps.  The barnacles have to be removed before processing the Snow crab for market. 

Originally the weight of the barnacles was being accounted towards the TAC and fish harvesters catch statistics, as well as the processor was paying the full price for the weight of this crab, including the weight of the barnacles.  Due to a high infestation of barnacles on Snow crab, in the 2001 fishery, the Fish, Food and Allied Workers Union (FFAW) and the Fisheries Association of Newfoundland and Labrador (FANL) requested a pilot project to allow the weight of barnacles for heavily infested crab, to be deducted from landings of the fish harvester.  This would mean that this weight would not be deducted from the fish harvester’s IQ, nor would the processor pay for this weight.  Dockside monitors would deduct the weight for barnacles as identified by the grading company.  In 2003 the pilot transitioned into policy.

The Barnacle Crab Protocol deems a crab heavily infested if the number of barnacles from the right side of the animal is 15 or greater.  The weight of each shipment will be reduced by 0.08 times the percentage of the total shipment which is heavily infested.  The amount for which the fish harvester is receipted and paid and the amount charged against the harvester’s IQ will be net of the deduction for heavily infested crab.

7.8. Safety at sea requirements

Caution is exercised relative to the timing of the opening of the NL Snow crab fishery by delaying the commencement of fishing until the risks posed by ice and weather are minimal. A comprehensive opening date protocol is in place including clearly defined inclement weather triggers that would warrant a delay in the expected season opening date. The opening date protocol includes consultation with various industry sectors. More information on Safety at Sea can be found in Appendix 11.

8. Shared stewardship arrangements

8.1. Oceans initiatives promoting shared stewardship

Recognizing the need to manage Canada’s fisheries and oceans using an ecosystem approach, DFO has led the development of integrated oceans management plans.  Similarly, this ecosystem approach has predicated the development of Integrated Fisheries Management Plans.  Linking both will allow for integration of fisheries and non-fisheries related uses of Canada's oceans.  Embedding fisheries management, as far as feasible, within the broader ecosystem approach will help to minimize resource conflicts and achieve sustainable management.

The Oceans Act and Canada’s Ocean Strategy are the legislative framework for integrated oceans management in Canada. As well, the National Framework for Canada’s Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) provides strategic direction for establishing a national network of MPAs that helps achieve broader conservation and sustainable development objectives identified through integrated oceans management and other spatial planning processes. The spatial planning for Canada’s national network of MPAs will be carried out through 12 ecologically defined bio-regions. DFO-NL Region has responsibility for two defined bio-geographic regions: the Newfoundland and Labrador Shelves bio-region and a shared responsibility in the Gulf of St. Lawrence bio-region.

Integrated oceans management and national MPA network planning in the bio-regions provides a collaborative governance model, founded on principles such as shared responsibility.  As a result, stewardship is promoted by providing a forum for consultation with the stakeholders who want to be engaged in marine resource or activity management decisions that affect them.

Snow crab fisheries are very important to the economy, history, and culture of our Province. It is important that DFO avail of the best possible mechanisms to engage stakeholders for feedback which will inform management decisions for this resource. 

8.2. Working arrangements/Existing agreements

There has been a Contribution Agreement between DFO and the FFAW that supports the Fisheries Stewardship Program, which enabled fish harvesters province-wide to share and expand their knowledge and to develop tools necessary to adopt sustainable fishing practices as part of shared stewardship and to implement a broader fisheries conservation ethic. While DFO has not contributed financially toward this year’s program, it does recognize the progress being made on the stewardship front and continues to collaborate in those efforts where possible.

9. Compliance plan

9.1. Conservation and Protection program description

The deployment of Conversation and Protection (C&P) resources in the 2HJ3KLNOP4R Snow crab fishery is conducted in conjunction with the management plan objectives as well as in response to emerging issues. The mix of enforcement options available and overriding conservation objectives determine the level and type of enforcement activity.  Additionally, an integrated work-planning process is employed to establish priorities in conjunction with established management objectives and prevailing conservation concerns.  The monitoring and evaluation elements of enforcement work-plans facilitate in-season adjustments should conservation concerns and/or significant non-compliance with established regulations or management measures emerge.

9.2. Regional compliance program delivery

The Conservation and Protection (C&P) program promotes and maintains compliance with legislation, regulations, policies, and management measures. This program is delivered through a balanced regulatory management and enforcement approach. Specifically:

9.3. Consultation

Shared stewardship and education are achieved in the Scallop fishery through a renewed emphasis on the importance of C&P communication with the community at large including:

9.4. Compliance performance

Compliance Monitoring
C&P will ensure compliance with the management measures governing the Newfoundland and Labrador commercial crab fishery by the following means: C&P Patrols, Dockside Inspections, At-Sea Inspections, Aerial Surveillance, Vessel Monitoring System (VMS), and through At-Sea Observer Deployments.

The C&P Detachments will conduct crab fishery patrols by vehicle, vessel, and fixed wing aircraft. Middle distance patrols will also be conducted using Canadian Coast Guard and Department of National Defence vessels.

Each detachment will ensure that monitoring and inspections of fish landing activity are to be carried out on a routine basis. Where a vessel is selected for comprehensive inspection, officers will ensure that catch composition, weight verification and size variation sampling is conducted.

Conservation and Protection Supervisors responsible for 2GHJ3KLNOP4R will ensure that surveillance flights are conducted on a routine basis. Flights will be tasked to both offshore and inshore crab fisheries.

The VMS system will be used to provide real-time data on the location of vessels within this fleet. Utilization of this resource will assist officers in determining where the enterprise is fishing, the port of destination and the estimated time of arrival to port. The VMS data will be used by staff to conduct retroactive comparative analysis of fishing activity.

At-Sea Observers will be randomly deployed to observe record and report aspects of the fishing activity. Observers will be briefed and debriefed and observer reports reviewed to ensure compliance objectives are met. The resulting data will be utilized to compare catch composition of vessels (observed trips vs. non observed trips).

Fishery Officers will review quota monitoring reports to ensure individual quotas are not exceeded.

Compliance Performance
Post season analysis sessions will be conducted with C&P and Resources Management staff to review issues encountered during the previous season and to make recommendations on improving management measures. The initial sessions will be conducted at the Area level, followed by a regional session that will be held with other sectors.

9.5. Current compliance issues

Compliance issues in the fishery include: fishing gear requirements; quota overruns; misreporting of catch by species management area; misreporting of catch amounts; unattended fishing gear; high grading; unmonitored landings; fishing in an unlicensed or closed area and fishing during closure. The primary focus of C&P efforts for the duration of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan will be on verifying compliance to the requirement to accurately report fishing related activities and the detection of unreported or unmonitored landings. For data on C&P activities related to Snow crab, see Appendix 12.

9.6. Compliance strategy

The C&P program develops yearly operational plans that outline monitoring and compliance activities that will be carried out by C&P personnel adjacent to the 2GHJ3KLNOP4R areas. The plan provides guidance; promotes effective monitoring; and, enables personnel to effectively maintain compliance with management measures governing the Newfoundland and Labrador commercial Snow crab fisheries.

The objectives of the operational plans are to provide a body of information that will provide guidance to C&P personnel, while engaged in monitoring and reviewing this fishery, to ensure compliance and conduct investigations. Sources of information to be used include vessel positioning data, officer inspection data, fishing logs, hail-in records, DMP records, At- Sea Observer records and purchase transactions.

10. Performance review

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

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

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

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

The following Performance Review outlines the activities and controls that are used in achieving fisheries management objectives. Table 7 identifies the specific strategies that are used to achieve fisheries management objectives.

Table 7: Measurable Objectives/Activities and Fisheries Management Strategies.
Objectives Fisheries Management Strategies
1. Conservation and Sustainable Harvest
Promote the sustainable utilization of Snow crab stocks.
  • Development of a Precautionary Approach
  • Fishing Seasons  
  • Total Allowable Catch
  • Quota Monitoring
  • Quota Reconciliation
  • Trap Limits
Mitigate the impacts on other species, habitat, and the ecosystem where Snow crab fishing occurs, protecting biodiversity and ecosystem structure and function.
  • Mandatory reporting lost gear
  • Biodegradable twine
  • Species at Risk Act
Promote a harvest level that meets marketing requirements, in the pursuit of economic viability objectives for the Snow crab sector.
  • Prohibit the retention of female Snow crab.
  • Prohibit the retention of male Snow crab less than 95mm in width.

Promote fishing practices that avoids or mitigates impact on sensitive habitat and species.

  • Implement measures that discourage illegal practices.
  • Mandatory on deck sorting, voluntary discard chute
  • Small crab escape mechanism
  • Minimize other sources of fishery induced mortality by:
    1. Minimizing fishing activity during times of peak soft-shell to avoid discard mortality;  (Shorter Season, IQ Bonus Program)
    2. Promoting proper handling practices
    3. Minimizing the by-catch of Crab in other fisheries
    4. Industry implementing disincentives to high-grading
    5. Soft-Shell Protocol
    6. Closed Areas

Ensure reliable and adequate information is collected for management and science.

  • The accurate completion of logbooks.
  • Reliable Dockside monitoring program.
  • Adequate level of At-sea observer coverage, both spatial and temporal.
  • The adherence to electronic vessel monitoring system (VMS) requirements.
2. Benefits to Stakeholders
To promote the continued development of a commercially viable and self-sustaining fishery.
  • No new access
  • Self-rationalization policies
  • Supporting industry in its efforts to obtain MSC certification
  • Self-rationalization policies
To provide fair access to an equitable sharing of the Snow crab resource
  • To provide equitable and fair access to Snow crab resources there must be respect for:
    1. Economic viability and dependence.
    2. Historical attachment to the Snow crab fishery.
    3. Adjacency to the resource.
    4. Transparent sharing principles.
  • Aboriginal access and allocation formulas are maintained in the IFMP and opportunities for additional access are addressed through the Allocation Transfer Program.
To facilitate an orderly and productive fishery through maximizing benefits within the industry, adjacent communities and the Province.
  • Stabilization of the access and allocation process.

To provide the fish harvesters with increased opportunity to develop long-term business plans.

  • Stable Sharing Arrangement
  • Evergreen management plans
  • The Total Allowable Catch for the fishery is set in a predictable and transparent manner.
3. Co-management of Resource

To promote a co-management approach, providing stakeholders with an effective sharing of responsibility, accountability and decision making, within the constraints of the Fisheries Act.

  • Establish an effective consultative process for stakeholders to participate in the decision-making process
  • Organize and participate in annual advisory meetings.
  • Fulfill obligations with respect to fishery resources as defined in the Nunatsiavut Land Claims Agreement.
  • Improve management of fishery through co-management.

To promote a fishery that operates in an efficient and orderly manner for both harvesters and processors.

  • Compliance indicators; such as the number of Fishery Officer hours and the number of occurrences and violations.
  • Effective at sea observer deployment and information collection.
  • Dockside Monitoring Audits/Checks performed by the Fishery Officers.

11. Glossary of terms

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

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.

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

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

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

Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE): The amount caught for a given fishing effort. Ex: tons of Shrimp per tow, kilograms of fish per hundred longline hooks.

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

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

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

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.

Landings: Quantity of a species caught and landed.

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

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

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, hydro-acoustic 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.

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

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.

Trawl: Fishing gear: cone-shaped net towed in the water by a boat called a "trawler". Bottom trawls are towed along the ocean floor to catch species such as groundfish. Mid-water trawls are towed within the water column.

Validation: The verification, by an observer, of the weight of fish landed.

Vessel Size: Length overall.

Year-class: Individuals of a same stock born in a particular year; also known as "cohort".

Appendix 1: Stock assessment

The Assessment of Newfoundland and Labrador (Divisions 2HJ3KLNOP4R) Snow Crab in 2018 is available online.

Appendix 2: Number of licences and allocations by fishing area & fleet

Snow crab licences - Newfoundland and Labrador Region
NAFO Fleet Sub-fleet # Licences
2J Fulltime   4
Supplementary   24
Inshore   50
2J Total   78
 
3K Fulltime CFA 4 25
Supplementary Group 3 40
Group 4 23
Group 5 23
Group 6 21
Inshore 3A 57
3B 71
3C 122
3D 204
>10 GRT (CFA 4) 4
3K Total   590
 
3L Fulltime   33
  Small  - Option 1A2 145
Small  - Option 2 SMB 21
Large 37
Inshore 5A (Bonavista Bay) 171
6A (Trinity Bay) 163
6B (Conception Bay) 119
6C (Eastern Avalon) 106
8A (Southern Avalon) 46
9A (St. Mary's Bay) 22
3L Total   863
 
3NO Midshore 65' - 99' LOA 4
 
3Ps Supplementary Option 2 65
Inshore 10A 260
11S (35-44) 14
11E 222
11W 8
3Ps Total   569
 
4R3Pn Commercial Outside 8 Group 1 (original) 3
Outside 8 Group 2 (exploratory) 38
Outside 8 Group 3 (experimental) 15
Inshore Bay St. George 6
Bay of Islands 8
12A 5
12B 5
12C 61
12D 38
12E 24
12F 25
12G 63
12H 30
Area 13 6
4R3Pn Total   327
 
Total     2431

Appendix 3: Trap limits

2018 Crab Pot Limits
NAFO Fleet Single Enterprise Buddy-Up Enterprise Combined Enterprise Rule
2J Fulltime 1200 1200 1200  
  Supplementary 1200 1200 1200  
  Inshore 200 400 400 2x single
3K Fulltime 800 800 800  
  Supplementary 800 800 800  
  Inshore 3A 150 300 300 2x single
  Inshore 3B 150 300 300 2x single
  Inshore 3C 100 200 200 2x single
  Inshore 3BC 150 300 300 2x single
  Inshore 3D 100 200 200 2x single
  > 10 GRT 200 400 400 2x single
3L Fulltime 1200 1200 1200  
  Large Supplementary 1200 1200 1200  
  Small Supplementary 400 600 600 1.5x single
  Inshore 5A 150 200 200  +50 pots
  Inshore 6A 150 250 250 +100 pots
  Inshore 6B 150 250 250 +100 pots
  Inshore 6C 200 300 300 +100 pots
  Inshore 8A 200 300 300 +100 pots
  Inshore 9A 300 300 300  
3Ps Supplementary 400   600 1.5x single
  11S/11Sx 300   450 1.5x single
  Inshore 10A 200 200    
  Inshore 11E 100      
  Inshore 11W 150      
  Inshore 10A/ 11S/ 11Sx 300      
4R3Pn Outside 8 250      
  Bay of Islands 100 100    
  Inshore 12A - 12H 100      
  Area 13        

Appendix 4: Snow crab fishing season

2018 Snow crab seasons
Area Crab Season
2J North July 7 - August 31
2J South June 6 - July 31
3A April 14 - August 7
3BC April 14 - July 16
4 April 14 - July 7
3B April 22 - July 16
3C April 30 - July 7
3D April 16 - July 7
3LNO April 9 - July 7
8Bx south April 9 - July 15
10A April 9 - July 15
10B, 11S April 9 - July 15
11E April 9 - June 7
11W April 9 - May 2
4R3Pn - 12A, 12B, 12C, 12D, 12E, 12H, BSG, O8 April 9 - June 22
4Rp3n -12F, 12G, BOI April 9 - June 15
CFA 13 May 2 - August 7

Appendix 5: Total Allowable Catch (TAC)

2018 Snow crab quotas
  Area Area Description Inshore Small Supp Fulltime & Supp Communal > 65' Total
2HJ   2H       100   100
  2J North of 54o 40’ N       310   310
  2J South 290         290
  2J South     1,165     1,165
  Total 290 n/a 1,165 TBD n/a 1,865
3K 3A Canada Bay 292         292
3B White Bay 378         378  
3C Green Bay 406         406  
3BC Inshore 3K 166         166  
3D Fogo/Twillingate 770         770  
4 Nearshore 3K (35-44) 17         17  
4 Offshore 3K     3,903     3,903  
Total   2,029 n/a 3,903 n/a n/a 5,932  
3LNO 5A Bonavista Bay 662         662
6A Trinity Bay 957         957  
6B Conception Bay 1,050         1,050  
6C Eastern Avalon (inside 25) 950         950  
8A Southern Shore (inside 25) 515         515  
9A St. Mary’s Bay 286         286  
8B Southern Avalon (offshore)   448       448  
8Bx Southern Avalon   56       56  
8Bx North Northern portion of Southern Avalon   202       202  
8Bx South Southern portion of Southern Avalon   279       279  
NS Near Shore   3,757       3,757  
MS Mid Shore   2,581 1,072     3,653  
MS/EX Mid-shore extended     2,570     2,570  
3L EX Between 170 and 200 miles     1,799     1,799  
Outside
200 miles
3L 200 3L Outside 200 miles     690     690
3N 200 3N Outside 200 miles     708     708  
3NO 200 3NO Outside 200 miles         258 258  
Total   4,420 7,323 6,839 n/a 258 18,840  
3Ps 10A Placentia Bay north of 46o30’N 672         672
10B CFA 10 south of 46°30’N   898       898  
11S CFA 11 south of 46o30’N (>35’ fleet) 60 66       126  
11E East of Western Head 79         79  
11W West of Western Hare Bay 17         17  
Total   828 964 n/a n/a n/a 1,792  
4R3Pn 12 South of Table Pt, 3Pn (outside 8) Group 1     19     19
12 South of Table Pt, 3Pn (outside 8) Group 2     154     154  
12 South of Table Pt, 3Pn (outside 8) Group 3     37     37  
12 Bay of Islands     26     26  
12 Bay St. George     10     10  
12A Lapoile Bay 4         4  
12B Cape Ray to Johnson’s Cove 9         9  
12C Johnson’s Cove to Cap St. George 70         70  
12D Cape St. George to Bear Head 38         38  
12E Bear Head to Cape St. Gregory 22         22  
12F Inner Bay of Islands 22         22  
12G Cape St. Gregory to Broom Point 65         65  
12H Broom Point to Table Point 25         25  
  Total 255 n/a 246 n/a n/a 501  
    Collaborative Post-Season Trap Survey           460
    GRAND TOTAL           29,390

Appendix 6: Map of Crab Fishing Area (CFA)

Map of Crab Fishing Area (CFA)

Appendix 7: Historical soft-shell closures by NAFO area

Total  # Soft-Shell Closures
  2J 3K 3LNO 3Ps 4R3Pn TOTAL
Closures
2018 11 12 5 0 0 18
2017 4 24 4 13 0 45
2016 10 31 1 1 1 44
2015 2 17 0 3 0 22
2014 9 22 0 2 0 33
2013 0 2 0 0 0 2
2012 7 31 10 0 1 49
2011 12 25 15 3 6 61
2010 0 31 12 0 0 43
2009 2 61 2 2 0 65
2008 0 3 28 0 0 31
2007 6 6 7 0 0 19
2006 0 10 0 0 0 10
2005 25 31 3 9 0 68
2004 30 52 0 0 0 82
Total 107 346 82 31 8 592

Appendix 8: Trip limits

2018 Trip limits
NAFO Fleet Licence Type Effective Period Landing Limit (lb)
        non RSW RSW
2J Fulltime & Single Licence May 45,000 lbs. per trip 60,000 lbs. per trip
  Supplementary Single Licence June 1 to end of season 25,000 lbs. per trip 60,000 lbs. per trip
    Buddy-Up or Combined all season 45,000 lbs. per trip 60,000 lbs. per trip
           
3K Fulltime & Single, Buddy-Up or Combined April 75,000 lbs. per trip 75,000 lbs. per trip
  Supplementary Single Licence May 1 to end of season 40,000 lbs. per trip 50,000 lbs. per trip
    Buddy-Up or Combined May 1 to end of season 45,000 lbs. per trip 50,000 lbs. per trip
           
3LNO Fulltime & Single, Buddy-Up or Combined April 75,000 lbs. per trip 75,000 lbs. per trip
  Large Supplementary Single, Buddy-Up or Combined May 39,000 lbs. per trip 50,000 lbs. per week
    Single, Buddy-Up or Combined June 1 to end of season 45,000 lbs. per trip 60,000 lbs. per week
           
  Small Supplementary Single, Buddy-Up or Combined April 75,000 lbs. per trip 75,000 lbs. per trip
    Single Licence May 30,000 lbs. per trip 50,000 lbs. per trip
    Buddy-Up or Combined May 50,000 lbs. per week  
    Single, Buddy-Up or Combined June 1 to end of season 30,000 lbs. per trip 60,000 lbs. per trip
           
3Ps Supplementary   April 75,000 lbs. per trip  
      May 1 to end of season 25,000 lbs. per trip  

Appendix 9: Division 3L inshore conservation areas

Map of Division 3L inshore conservation areas

Appendix 10: Division 3LNO offshore conservation areas

Map of Division 3LNO offshore conservation areas

Appendix 11: Safety at sea

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

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

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

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

Fishing vessel safety includes three priority areas: vessel stability, emergency drills, and cold water immersion.

Fishing Vessel Stability

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

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

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

Emergency Drill Requirements

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

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

Cold Water Immersion

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

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

Other Issues

Weather

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

Emergency Radio Procedures

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

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

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

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

Collison Regulations

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

Vessels required to participate in VTS include:

Exceptions include:

Additional information can be found on the Collision Regulations page.

Sail Plan

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

Appendix 12: C&P enforcement data for snow crab

Snow Crab Compliance Summary 2014 to 2018 for Newfoundland Region

Please Note: The following information is provided by Conservation & Protection (C&P) Newfoundland Region covering the period from January 1st, 2014 to Oct 15th, 2018.  Some of the data may change for 2018 as investigative work is still on-going.

Occurrence Data:

The following table identifies violations in the Snow crab Fishery for the years 2014 to 2018 inclusive from the Departmental Violations System for the NL Region.

Description
Data From DVS for Crab Fishery, for Calendar years 2014 to 2018
  2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
           
Number of Charges Laid 56 44 78 31 9
           
Number of Warnings Issued 42 87 44 54 65
           
Number of Charges Pending/Under Review 0 0 0 0 32

Fishery Officer Effort for Years 2014 to 2018:

The following table shows the amount of Total Effort, Total Fishery Officer Patrol Hours and number of Vessel Inspections for the years 2014 to 2018 inclusive from the Fisheries Enforcement Tracking System in NL Region.

Description
Year Total Effort (Hrs)
2018 15,859
2017 14,149
2016 15,385
2015 15,107
2014 16,298
Description
Year Total FO patrol hours
2018 8,303
2017 7,449
2016 6,738
2015 6,421
2014 5,830
Description
Year Vessel Checks
2018 716
2017 624
2016 610
2015 598
2014 570

Air Surveillance:

Newfoundland Region averages approximately 150 air surveillance hours on Snow crab per year. In 2018 there were approximately 155 air surveillance hours logged with 438 Snow crab vessels sighted.

Appendix 13: Departmental contacts

Contact Telephone Fax E-mail

REGIONAL HEADQUARTERS, ST. JOHN’S                                           

General Information (709)772-4423 (709)772-3628 P. O. Box 5667
St. John’s, NL, A1C 5X1
Info@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Martin Henri
Resource Manager - Shellfish
(709)772-4911 (709)772-3628 martin.henri@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Darrell Mullowney, Biologist (709)772-2521 (709)772-4105 darrell.mullowney@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Krista Baker, Stock Assessment Biologist (709)772-2076 (709)772-4105 krista.baker@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Kerry Bungay
Chief  - Conservation & Protection
(709)772-0468 (709)772-4327 kerry.bungay@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Dave Ball
Resource Manager – Aboriginal Fisheries
(709)772-3732 (709)772-3625  david.ball@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Patricia Williams, Licensing (709)772-6151 (709)772-3625 patricia.williams@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Frank Corbett, Policy Analyst (709)772-6935 (709)772-4583 frank.corbett@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Helen Griffiths
Regional Manager – Species at Risk
(709)772-4088 (709)772-5562 helen.griffiths@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Jason Kelly
Sr Biologist - Fisheries Protection Policy
(709)772-4126 (709)772-5562 jason.kelly@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Geoff Perry
Regional Aquaculture Coordinator
(709)772-0183 (709)772-2046 Geoff.Perry@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

AREA OFFICES – RESOURCE MANAGEMENT

David Small
Area Chief
Easter & Southern
(709)292-5167 (709)292-5205 david.small@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Wayne King
Senior Area Representative 
Labrador
(709)896-6157 (709)896-8419 wayne.king@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Laurie Hawkins
Area Chief
Southern, Western & Straits
(709)637-4310 (709)832-3015 laurie.hawkins@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

AREA OFFICES – CONSERVATION & PROTECTION

Chad Ward
Area Chief, Eastern and Southern
(709)772-5857 (709)772-8469 Chad.ward@dfo-mpo.gc.ca
Brent Watkins
Area Chief, Western
(709) 458-3083 (709) 458-3096 brent.watkins@dfo-mpo.gc.ca