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The Quebec Region Bulletin
Volume 9 – Number 3 – June - July 2006


By Richard Lessard

Jean-Yves Bernatchez, a fishery officer working in the  Gaspésie–Lower St.Lawrence sector, has been awarded the Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal by Governor General, her Excellency the Right Honourable Michaëlle Jean.

Five other fishery officers from other parts of Canadaalso received this prestigious award at a special ceremony held at Rideau Hall on May 12.

This Exemplary Service Medal was created in 2004 to honour peace officers who have devoted at least 20 years of their career to public safety and security in Canada and who have performed their duties in an exemplary manner.

Minister Loyola Hearn said that, “since the beginning of his career, Mr. Bernatchez has always sought to provide the best possible service by promoting team work and efficiency. He is a firearms instructor and also teaches techniques related to self defense. His dedication and his achievements go well beyond the call of duty.”

Jean-Yves Bernatchez began his career as a fishery officer in 1981. He currently works at the Gaspé office of Fisheries and Oceans Canada.




By Richard Lessard

Picture - Small Craft Harbour
DFO M. Papageorges

Fisheries and Oceans Canada announces a federal investment of $731,000 for annual maintenance dredging at eight fishing harbours in the Gaspé Peninsula and Magdalen Islands  

In the Gaspé Peninsula, $275,000 will be invested for maintenance dredging at the fishing harbours of L’Anse-à-Beaufils, Gascons (Ruisseau Chapados), Sainte-Thérèse-de-Gaspé, and Saint-Godefroi.  

In the Magdalen Islands, $456,000 will be invested for maintenance dredging at the fishing harbours of Grosse-Île (Cap du Dauphin), Île d’Entrée, Millerand, and Pointe-Basse.  

Dredging began in April and will continue over the following months.  A work schedule is being provided to all Harbour Authorities so that they may inform fishermen of the planned dredging dates for each harbour.  

All these projects are being undertaken by Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Small Craft Harbours Program, in close collaboration with the Harbour Authorities that manage and operate the facilities for local users. Such close co-operation with clients allows the federal government to provide an operable system of harbours and facilities throughout Canada, in support of commercial fishermen.




By Karina Laberge

 Scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada regularly review the status of Canadian fish stocks. The most intensely fished species of fish, crustaceans and molluscs are monitored annually to ensure that populations are maintained over the long term. Stock status reports provide a scientific basis for establishing fishing plans.  

Stock status reports are available on the Canadian Stock Assessment Secretariat Web site at the following address:  

It is also possible to obtain them by writing to the Regional Stock Assessment Office, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Maurice Lamontagne Institute, P.O. Box 1000, Mont Joli, Quebec, Canada G5H 3Z4 .

Lobster of the Magdalen Islands (LFA 22)

 •   In 2005, landings and catches per unit of effort (CPUE) remained high.  

•     The average sizes and weights have stabilized since the end of the increase in minimum legal size, up to 83 mm in 2003. The size is now 7% larger and the weight 22% higher than before 1997, when the minimum legal size was 76 mm.  

•     Marked differences were observed between the size structures of males and females due, among other things, to a decrease in female growth when they reach their sexual maturity and to the fact that females that spawn enter the fishery a year later than males.  

•     The 2004 exploitation rates calculated for males in the commercial portion reached 74% in the southern and northern parts of the Magdalen Islands . A lower fishing mortality level is desirable.  

•     The abundance of berried females is significantly higher than it was before the increase of the minimum legal size; during the same period, the egg production index doubled. The number of multiparous females also increased, but their proportion compared to primiparous females did not change significantly between 1996 and 2005.  

•     Abundance indices of prerecruits and juvenile calculated from the trawl survey suggest that recruitment levels could be maintained in the medium term.

     In order to decrease exploitation rates, measures to reduce fishing effort by 12.5% have been proposed to the industry. This would therefore make it possible to reduce the fishery’s dependence on annual recruitment, to increase the levels of egg production per recruit, to increase the proportion of multiparous females in the population, and to ensure their reproductive success by keeping balanced sex ratios.


Whelk of the Coastal Waters of Quebec

Picture - Whelk of the Coastal Waters of Quebec

•     In 2005, ninety-nine (99) of the 264 fishing license holders fished whelk.

•     Whelk landings in 2005 were 28% down on the North Shore, 80% and 127% up in the sectors of the Lower St. Lawrence-Gaspé Peninsula and the Magdalen Islands, respectively, compared to the average of the 2001-2004 series.

•     In spite of the minimum catch size of 70 mm imposed for all the fishing areas, nearly 30% of whelks smaller than the legal size were observed in the landings from areas 1, 2, and 8. We recommend the maintenance of this size in all areas. Moreover, we recommend the use of fishing gears that minimize pre-recruit capture in order to reduce and even eliminate incidental mortality due to fishing.

•     Based on the significant drop in landings and catch rates observed in several fishing areas, fishing effort and exploitation rates would be too high in these areas. We recommend a direct control of the actual fishing effort in all fishing areas.

     For areas 4, 5, 7, 8, 11, 12, and 13, we recommend a reduction of the fishing effort so that it does not exceed the lowest level observed since 2003. However, in the most critical areas (1, 2, 3, and 6), the effort must be below this level. For area 15, including sub-area 15A, the total effort must not be higher than that of 2005.

Stimpson's Surfclam of the Coastal Waters of Quebec

•   The Quebec region has ten Stimpson's surfclam fishing areas, eight on the North Shore and two in the Magdalen Islands. In 2005, 10 permanent licenses and 8 exploratory licenses were issued in Quebec.

•     Landings totalled 882 tons in 2005, 5% up compared to 2004. Ninety-nine percent of these landings were from the North Shore.

•     In 2005, quotas were reached in the areas 1A, 1B, and 4A, and were exceeded in area 4B. Areas 4C and 5A were not fished in 2005.

•    The average catch rates fluctuated between 162 and 799 kg per fishing hour for a 1 m wide tow according to area. These averages remain variable between the years for most of the areas.

•     The average size of captured individuals remains stable on the main beds harvested.

•     Any new quota increase must be conservative as the weak growth rate and the sedentariness of this species make certain sites vulnerable to overexploitation. In reality, such an approach could correspond to a maximum increase of 10% in the captures by 5-year period, in as much as quotas are reached on a regular basis. This would allow sufficient time to observe the effects of such an increase.

     Given that quotas have been reached and that commercial indices have been stable since 2001, quotas could be increased by 10% in areas 1A, 3B, and 4A. Status quo is recommended however in the other areas.




Area 2J3KL: The aim of the new Northern Cod Science and Fisheries Stewardship Initiative is to obtain a better understanding of this zone. The initiative includes new scientific research projects worth $1.2 million, as well as a one-year, small-scale, inshore fishery pilot project for Newfoundland and Labrador.

Recreational fishery: The Department has announced there will be a recreational fishery throughout Atlantic Canada where commercial fishers have access to groundfish, including cod.  Details of the recreational fishery will be determined and announced regionally in the near future.

Commercial fishery:  The 2006-07 total allowable catches for cod in the Gulf of St. Lawrence were also announced today.  The total allowable catches for Northern Gulf cod (3Pn, 4RS) is set at 6,000t and at 4,000t for Southern Gulf cod (4TVn). Existing sharing arrangements will be maintained.

So far, Fisheries and Oceans Canada has invested over $1.8 million in cod recovery in Atlantic Canada.




By Thomas Larouche

Between January and October 2005, Chinese exports of seafood products shot up by 16.5% on a year-over-year basis. In 2004, China’s seafood exports totalled more than US$7 billion.

Seafood products have been China’s main agri-food exports since 2000, with a significant proportion consisting of haddock, pollock and cod imported from Russia, Norway, Canada and the United States and processed in China. The value of these re-exports totalled US$1.3 billion in 2004, or nearly double the 2001 level. China now ranks first in the world in the processing sector thanks to its very low labour costs and its quality infrastructure as well as to the lifting of quotas on Chinese imports by many countries since China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. Countries like Norway, Canada and Iceland, which have traditionally processed their domestic groundfish catches, are now shipping an ever-greater portion of their catches to China.

Canadian Seafood Exports to China

Chart - Canadian seafood exports to China

Canadian fish and seafood exports to China have expanded substantially since 2002. In 2005, the total value of these exports stood at C$317 million, up 5% from 2004. This is a much smaller increase than that posted in 2004, when exports rose by 15% from the 2003 level. The aggregate value of Canadian seafood exports declined markedly in 2005, mainly because of lower snow crab prices. Snow crab and shrimp are the primary species exported to China, representing 60% of the total value of Canadian exports. Frozen groundfish ranks second, accounting for 15% of exports. In Quebec, the value of exports to China totalled C$6 million in 2005, with snow crab making up 75% of this total and northern shrimp 15%. Quebec and Canadian exports of snow crab to China are mainly processed in China to be re-exported directly to Japan.

Quebec Seafood Exports to China

Chart - Quebec seafood exports to China

The market for fish and seafood is booming in China. Demand for imported products has kept pace with the rising income levels of the middle class, currently estimated at 95 million people. Intrafish magazine predicts that, between now and 2008, the middle class will swell to more than 200 million people. It has even been reported that demand is expanding so fast that a new supermarket opens every day in China.Imports are following the same upward trend, notably imports of salmon, which rose by 34% in 2005 compared with the previous year. At present, Russia and the United States are the two main suppliers for the Chinese market (Canada is the leading supplier of northern shrimp); however, the dramatic increase in Chinese demand and imports should boost Canadian fish and seafood exports.

There is always the possibility of a slowing of the Chinese economy in the event of political unrest linked to the authoritarian practices of the government or to the widening disparity between Chinese living in coastal cities and those in the interior. On the other hand, if the government maintains its policy of openness and reform initiated 15 years ago, China will likely experience another decade of overall economic growth and growth in imports and exports of seafood products.




By Karina Laberge

New sailing directions for the Gulf of St. Lawrence will soon be released in two volumes, with one covering the southwestern part of the Gulf (ATL 108) and the other, the northeastern part (ATL 109); they will replace the 1992 edition of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Sailing Directions.

The two new publications incorporate information from all of the Notices to Mariners issued since 1992 as well as new plans, photographs and the latest field data. They cover ferry routes, coastal transport service, main oil tanker routes, ports in high-risk shipping areas, fishing harbours, ports serving remote regions and regional interests, with more detailed information being provided on key components.

Southwestern Gulf (ATL 108)

The Southwestern Gulf volume contains large-scale maps for nine fishing or recreational harbours. It shows Forillon National Park and Île Bonaventure – Rocher Percé (Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock) provincial park, a private port, the access to the Gaspé shipyard, winter boat storage areas and the location of the two Aboriginal bands with ties to the fishery. Recreational harbours are identified along with their services.

This volume will be available from authorized chart dealers in July.

Northeastern Gulf (ATL 109)

The Northeastern Gulf volume covers the hundreds of islands, islets and reefs found in the many archipelagos of the North Shore and provides important details for coastal navigation. It shows the access to the winter boat storage areas of Blanc Sablon and La Tabatière and provides a large-scale map of Tête à la Baleine fishing harbour.

This volume will be available from authorized chart dealers as of July.



Picture - Leatherback turtle

The leatherback turtle is not only larger than all other sea turtles in the world, it is the biggest reptile on the planet! These turtles can grow to a length of over 2 metres and a weight of over 900 kg. Leatherback turtles can be spotted during the summer in our coastal waters, when they feed on jellyfish near the surface.

This turtle species is endangered. Fishing gear poses a threat to leatherback turtles and can even be a major cause of mortality. Because they are unable to swim backwards, leatherback turtles cannot back up when they encounter fishing nets or ropes and other debris in the sea. When they entangle themselves in fishing nets or get caught on ropes,  they can no longer swim properly and cannot feed themselves.

If you find a leatherback turtle in your fishing gear, you should free it and report the incident to your local Fisheries and Oceans Canada office. Also, if you come upon a leatherback turtle at sea or if you find one that has become beached, it is important to contact the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Every report that is received helps to provide information on the distribution of this endangered species.

For more information on the leatherback turtle, visit this species at risk site:




Upper North Shore Coastal Committee:  a successful experience

A decade after setting up the first coastal committee in Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada is pleased with the results that have been attained. Its goal in setting up the committee was to place an organization managed by local stakeholders in charge of the integrated management of a section of the coastal zone of the St. Lawrence. According to Jean Morisset, biologist for the North Shore Area, the Upper North Shore was deemed a suitable candidate in 1996 because of its diverse local activities, including whale watching, fishing and softshell clam harvesting, and because of its varied habitats. According to the Committee Executive, the biggest challenge lay in reconciling the widely divergent interests of the coastal zone users. The Coastal Committee provided the impetus for the creation of an association of professional softshell clam harvesters and made a major contribution to the consolidation of federal regulations pertaining to softshell clam harvesting.

2006 hydrographic survey season

The Canadian Hydrographic Service (CHS) of Fisheries and Oceans Canada has begun its 2006 campaign of surveys on the navigable waterways of Quebec. This summer’s work will focus on Lake St.Louis, the St. Lawrence Seaway as a whole, the Montmagny and Cacouna sectors, Chaleur Bay and the Lower North Shore. The surveys will be conducted from aboard a hydrographic research vessel equipped with echosounding equipment and highly precise electronic positioning systems and will involve detecting shoals and updating nautical publications and the official nautical charts produced by the CHS, in order to increase navigation safety.

Mariners are urged to advise CHS of the discovery of new or suspected dangers to navigation or conditions not addressed in the current nautical charts. Hydrographers will validate the information provided and determine the precise position of the hazards or changes. To facilitate this verification process, mariners should provide full details concerning the hazard, including the type of hazard and its position and the date and time of observation. This information can be relayed to the CHS by phoning 418-775-0502 or by sending an e-mail to


4TVn herring  

The TAC for the spring fishery has been set at 9,000 tonnes, a decrease from the 2005 level of 11,000 t. The new TAC takes into account the weakness of this component of the stock and is an approach aimed at rebuilding stocks, as recommended by DFO and most of the stakeholders. For the fall fishery, there will be a TAC of 68,800 t, which also represents a decrease from the 2005 level (70,000 t). This TAC corresponds to the reference harvesting level set in collaboration with stakeholders.


 3Ps cod and other groundfish

The TAC for 3Ps cod has been set at 13,000 tonnes for 2006, down from 15,000 tonnes last year. This reduction was deemed necessary to ensure the future of the 3Ps cod fishery. While this TAC is conservative, an effort will be made to verify the accuracy of industry claims that the TAC for this stock could be higher. The TAC will be allocated in accordance with existing sharing agreements.

The TAC for Unit II redfish, another groundfish species, has been increased from 8,000 to 8,500 tonnes. This 500-tonne increase will be used to accommodate a scientific survey. The TAC levels for 3Ps witch flounder (650 t) and skate (1,050 t) are unchanged for 2006–2007, and the moratorium for 3Ps American plaice will remain in place.

Whale carcasses: keep a lookout!

Along the St. Lawrence, marine mammals are sometimes found washed up on the beach. The carcasses of these animals can provide invaluable information for scientific research. Depending on the species and the condition of the carcass, tissue samples may be collected by experts with the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network or by Fisheries and Oceans Canada experts, if belugas are involved. Any discovery of marine mammal carcasses should be reported promptly to the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network by calling

1-877-7baleine (1-877-722-5346 )


St. Lawrence Plan

The Web site of the St. Lawrence Plan: A Sustainable Development Approach is now up and running. Visitors can obtain information on the fourth Canada–Quebec agreement on the St. Lawrence, which will be in effect until 2010. The Web site is at:


Integrated management plan for Cascapedia Bay

The Cascapedia Bay Users’Committee (Comité des usagers de la baie de Cascapédia), sponsored by the Chaleur Bay ZIP Committee, recently unveiled the Cascapedia Bay Integrated Management Plan, prepared through a concerted approach initiated in 2001. In addition to providing a detailed portrait of the area, which encompasses the municipality of Maria, the Gesgapegiag community and the Town of New Richmond, this document deals with the main issues and concerns related to the coastal zone. It also sets out a number of actions to be implemented for the sustainable development of Cascapedia Bay.

About a dozen integrated management initiatives, with Fisheries and Oceans Canada as a participant, are already in place or are currently under development with respect to the marine part of the St. Lawrence. The very first initiatives of this type date back to 1996 and focused on the Upper North Shore and Chaleur Bay.

World Hydrography Day

Fisheries and Oceans Canada is celebrating the first World Hydrography Day on June 21. This event, instituted by the United Nations General Assembly, is intended to underscore the work done by hydrographers and to give greater visibility to hydrographic information on the international level. This year’s theme is “Safety of Navigation”.

Canada is a leader in the field of marine cartography. Since the establishment of the Canadian Hydrographic Service more than 120 years ago, hydrographers have played an important role in the development of technologies that permit more effective navigation the world over. The International Hydrographic Organization works with its 76 member states to produce cutting-edge electronic charts.




June - July 2006
Volume 9
Number 3

Published by:
Communications Branch
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Quebec (Québec)  G1K 7Y7
Telephone: 418-648-7747

Acting Director:
Marcel-M. Boudreau

Richard Lessard

Visual Coordinator:
Denis Chamard