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Quebec Bulletin
August-September 2017/Volume 20/Number 4

Compliance Operation for Lobster Fishing in the Magdalen Islands

Photo showing a patrol heading toward a fishing boat
The operation enabled the Department to demonstrate its ability to respond, regardless of the area being covered.

In the Magdalen Islands, it is well known that the lobster fishing industry is of great importance to the area's economy. The resource, although plentiful, is scrupulously monitored by the Conservation and Protection Branch of Fisheries and Oceans Canada. Perhaps less well known is the annual migration of the Islands lobster between the more remote reefs and the coasts of the archipelago, bringing with them the fishers in pursuit of them.

Initially, a large number of traps were set on rocky bottoms at a good distance from the landing ports—i.e. 18 to 36 kilometers—before being brought closer to the coasts later in the season. This peculiarity of the lobster fishery makes it difficult for the Conservation and Protection Branch to access remote depths and the large number of fishing gear there. The deployment of equipment, necessary transit time and the very nature of the tasks to be performed on site (measurement, inspection, etc.) limits the number of vessels that can be verified at each exit.

Photo showing two fisheries officers in a boat heading toward a Canadian Coast Guard ship
In total, 12 fisheries officers participated in the operation last June.

In order to overcome this problem, the idea of an operation to verify fishing gear compliance in this area was born. Two mid-shore patrol vessels were deployed around the archipelago during the night of June 14, 2017. Anchored near the Corps-Mort and Brion Island fishing grounds, these vessels served as a mobile base, allowing teams to be present on site as soon as fishing activities began at 5:00 a.m. Rapid vessels of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, as well as the CCGS Paul L. Montreuil, were also involved in this operation. Reconnaissance flights were also conducted with the Department's surveillance aircraft to identify buoy concentrations and the most suitable areas to cover. In total, 12 fishery officers on four fast boats, one sector boat, two mid-shore patrol vessels, and one surveillance aircraft took part in this operation on June 15 and 16, 2017.

The results of the operation were excellent. Forty-four boats were boarded during the two days, and careful inspections were conducted on a large number of their fishing gear. Seven violations of the Fisheries Act and ten written warnings were served. Twenty-two non-compliant traps were also seized.

Extensive media coverage of this deployment made it possible to publicly demonstrate the Department's ability to respond, regardless of the area being covered. This is also a positive finding on the ground, given the high compliance rate among the majority of fishers. The excellent work accomplished by all of the teams involved in this effort and the professionalism of each played an important role in these results.

Simon Richard
Fisheries Management

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