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Infoceans
The Quebec Region Bulletin
Volume 9 – Number 5 – October - November 2006



CANADA ACHIEVES MAJOR REFORMS AT NAFO ANNUAL MEETING

On September 22, 2006 , the 28th annual meeting of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organi-zation (NAFO) concluded with parties agreeing to major changes in how the organization will deal with illegal fishing.

“I am pleased to announce that NAFO will finally have tools to deal with those who jeopardize the health of the stocks, for short-term profit.” said the Honourable Loyola Hearn, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. 

Thanks to leadership from Canada’s delegation, and the collaborative efforts of all NAFO members, significant reforms to the monitoring, control and surveillance measures have been agreed to and will take effect starting January 1, 2007 . These changes include:

• Vessels caught misreporting their catch will be directed to port for immediate inspection. Other serious infringements, including directing for moratoria species and repeat offences will lead to similar consequences.

• NAFO now has guidelines for sanctions when vessel owners are caught breaking the rules: countries will be obliged to impose a fine, suspend or withdraw a licence or catch quota, or seize fishing gear or the illegal catch.

• Captains on vessels that do not have 100% observer coverage will have to report their catches in real-time, so enforcement personnel can immediately detect at-sea patterns of misreporting and illegal fishing. NAFO will calculate catch data based on vessel monitoring system collection, lessening dependence on on-board observers.

In addition to these monitoring, control and surveillance measures, improvements were made to NAFO’s decision-making process, especially regarding the objection procedure.

• Procedures for dispute settlement as outlined in the United Nations Fish Stocks Agreement will be made part of the NAFO Convention so countries that object to a NAFO decision cannot simply set out to fish a unilateral quota. They must enter a dispute settlement process with an impartial panel.

• NAFO’s fisheries management process must now take into account the precautionary approach and the ecosystem approach. This means basing its decisions on science, and considering fish habitat and marine sensitive areas, closer in line with Canadian practices.

NAFO also decided to take action to better understand the effects of fishing on several seamounts in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. This demonstrates, in practice, a shift in NAFO’s management process to incorporate science and the ecosystem approach.

“While there will always be room for improvement, these changes go a long way towards giving NAFO the teeth it needs to fight overfishing,” continued Minister Hearn. “The proof of political will on the part of Canada and our international partners will be evident in the coming months as we implement these changes. Ensuring that all countries and the vessels that fish under their flags play by the rules will continue to be my top priority as Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.”

“Compliance is key. Should we find unwillingness by others to play by these new rules, Canada will continue to keep its options open in our fight against overfishing.”

Picture - DFO - Fishing Vessel
Photo: Provincial Aerospace LTD

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STOCK STATUS REPORTS

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 Science Advisory Secretariat Web site at the following address: www.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/csas/

Estuary and Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence Snow Crab (Areas 13 to 17 and 12A, 12B and 12C)

•     Most stocks are nearing the end of their recruitment wave, as evidenced by a high commercial biomass and a decreasing recruitment, as well as a decreasing abundance of prerecruits. In addition, the 2005 fishery relied essentially on intermediate-shell crabs, whose catchability is very high and which will disappear in the medium-term. Accordingly, the advice for the 2006 fishing season generally consists in recommending that Total Allowable Catches (TACs) similar to those of 2005 be maintained in order to preserve a reproductive biomass of males and to avoid hindering the population recovery in some areas. Recommendations assume that the natural mortality rate will not be any different in 2005 and 2006 compared with previous years.

•     In Area 17, a TAC comparable to 2005 is recommended for 2006.

•     In Area 16, a TAC comparable to 2005 is recommended for 2006.

•     In Area 15, a 15% increase in the TAC is recommended for 2006. Despite this increase, the biomass should remain similar to 2005.

•     In Area 14, it is recommended that the 2005 TAC be maintained in 2006 as to not increase fishing pressure on this stock.

•     In Area 13, the stock has been under a moratorium since 2003. The re-opening of the area is subject to size and performance criteria which have not been met. It is recommended that the moratorium be maintained in 2006.

•     In Area 12A, a TAC comparable to 2005 is recommended for 2006.

•     In Area 12B, because of stock status uncertainties as well as a drop in recruitment in 2005 and 2006, a 10% decrease in the TAC is recommended for 2006.

•     In Area 12C, a TAC comparable to 2005 is recommended for 2006.

Examination of Industry Trawl Survey of April 2006 in Relation to the Assessment of the Snow Crab in Area 16

In April 2006, the snow crab industry conducted a trawl survey in Area 16 in order to address perception issues concerning stock status following the January 2006 peer review.

The survey was carried out in April 2006, but because of time constraints and several untrawlable areas, only approximately a quarter of the original sampling plan was carried out. Consequently, the survey cannot be used to estimate abundance in Area 16.

However, preliminary 2006 Catches per Unit of Effort (CPUE), recruitment indices from the St. Marguerite Bay survey, combined with the partial results from the industry’s trawl survey seem to indicate that the biomass in Area 16 is probably more abundant than estimated in January 2006. Consequently, a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) increase in 2006 not exceeding 25% of the 2005 level can be recommended.

Quebec North Shore Herring (Division 4S)

•     Herring catches on the Quebec North Shore in 2005 were 414 t, up 287 t compared with 2004. Most of these landings were made in unit area 4Sw by gillnetters and trap fishermen.

•     The demographic structure of the two herring spawning stocks of the Quebec North Shore is characterized by the occasional occurrence of dominant year-classes. Some of these year-classes were observed over several consecutive years, which indicates a low exploitation rate.

•     The dispersion index, which is calculated from data from bottom trawl scientific surveys, has shown an overall upward trend since 1990 with maximum values in 2000 and 2001.

•     For the time being, Quebec North Shore herring stocks are managed using a common preventive Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of 4,000 t. Because of the territory’s size and the actual catch levels compared to other eastern Canadian regions, herring catches could certainly be higher. However, the current available information is not sufficient to accurately determine by how much the catches could be increased.

•     Finally, due to an overall lack of information concerning the biology, structure and spawning stock dynamics of Quebec North Shore herring, we recommend that any increase in fishing effort be made gradually and be accompanied by strict monitoring of the catches and biological characteristics.

West Coast of Newfoundland Herring(Division 4R)

•     Herring landings on the west coast of Newfoundland in 2005 were 17,274 t, up 2,574 t compared with 2004. Average annual landings (1990-2004) were 15,246 t and all fishery sectors, except for the gillnet fishery, reached or almost reached their respective quotas.

•     The most significant herring landings were mainly harvested by large (>65´) and small (<65´) senners in unit areas 4Rc and 4Rd. Average annual landings made by large senners were 10,875 t, compared with 2,919 t for small senners.

•     A new very effective fishing gear, the “tuck-ring” senne, is responsible for landing 1,106 t in 2005. The “tuck-ring” senne, considered a fixed gear, is increasingly popular for the pelagic fishery in Newfoundland.

•     The dispersion index, which is calculated from data from bottom trawl scientific surveys, has varied only marginally during the 1990s. Nevertheless, it has shown a considerable increase between 1998 and 2001, followed by a drop until 2004 and a slight increase in 2005.

•     Biological indicators were not available at the time of the assessment, and because there was no abundance survey, it was impossible for us to assess the status of both spawning stocks on the west coast of Newfoundland in 2005 and to formulate a scientific advice regarding a Total Allowable Catch (TAC) for 2006.

•     As mentioned over recent years, we recommend that fishing effort be distributed along the coast and over the entire year in order to conserve both herring spawning stocks on the west coast of Newfoundland.

Lumpfish in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (3Pn, 4RST)

•    Note: Referring to fishing areas 3Pn and 4RST in this report does not necessarily imply a management unit, but rather the areas of interest for this update.

•     Lumpfish fishery for caviar strongly depends on market conditions. Certain recent constraints concerning the exploitation of sturgeon caviar could lead to additional pressures on this resource.

•     There is very little information on the Gulf of St. Lawrence lumpfish biology and fishery. The implementation of the Fisheries Science Collaborative Program in 2004 made it possible to launch specific research on histology and fecundity, as well as a tagging program. Some improvements are suggested to enhance the follow-up of this fishery and to remedy this situation.

•     Without abundance index and sufficient biological data, it is not possible to assess the status of lumpfish in NAFO subdivision 3Pn and divisions 4RST. It is thus recommended to establish a commercial fishery follow-up and sampling program. Moreover, data on life cycle characteristics could be collected on an opportunist basis during scientific surveys.

•     Lumpfish seem to move little from one fishing season to the other, which would indicate that the species is rather sedentary. This could also indicate that the resource is distributed into several small units, which makes it more vulnerable to local overexploitation. As lumpfish fishery pressure could increase, it will be necessary to closely watch any increase in landings and take actions if it is estimated that landings exceed the capacity of the resource to support such a level of exploitation.

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CONVICTIONS FOR FISHERIES ACT VIOLATIONS

By Michel Plamondon

Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Quebec Region, has released the names of fishermen who have received fines for violations of the Fisheries Act.  

Fisheries and Oceans Canada continues to strictly enforce its zero tolerance policy on violations of the Fisheries Act. The Department has a mandate to protect and conserve fishery resources and is ever vigilant in its efforts to prevent poaching of marine resources. Fisheries and Oceans Canada also encourages the public to report poaching incidents by calling 1-800-463-9057 . All calls are confidential.

MAGDALEN ISLANDS CONVICTIONS

Offender

Residence

Offence

Sentencing Date

Fine

Judge

Martin Arseneau

Havre aux Maisons

Refusal to take an observer on board.

August 9, 2006

$575

Jean-Paul Descoste

Wilton Burke

Grosse Île

Possession of lobsters under the legal size of 83 mm.

August 9, 2006

$750

Jean-Paul Descoste

Robert Lebouthillier

Caraquet, NB

Illegal landing of snow crab.

August 9, 2006

$4,000

Crab seized

Jean-Paul Descoste

GASPÉ-LOWER ST. LAWRENCE CONVICTIONS

Offender

Residence

Offence

Sentencing Date

Fine

Judge

David Litalien

Carleton

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams (maximum daily amount permitted).

August 21, 2006

Suspended sentence, 3 months’ 
probation,
ordered to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Armand Lavergne

St. Omer

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams (maximum daily amount permitted).

August 21, 2006

Suspended sentence, 3 months’ probation, ordered to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Marco Mercier

Campbellton, NB

Count 1: Harvesting softshell clams in a closed area.

Count 2: Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

Count 3: Possession of softshell clams under the legal size of 51 mm.

August 21, 2006                                       $100    

                                                             

                                                             

 $100

                                                            

$100

6 months’ probation, ordered to keep the peace and be of good behaviour and forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Wesley Maltais

Pointe à la Croix

Count 1: Harvesting softshell clams in a closed area.

Count 2: Possession of softshell clams under the legal size of 51mm.

August 21, 2006                                       $200     

                                                         

                                                        

$200

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Yvon Maltais

St. Omer

Count 1: Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

Count 2: Possession of softshell clams under the legal size of 51 mm.

August 21, 2006                                       $200     

                                                        

$200 

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Joseph-Clairmont Lepage

Balmoral, NB

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

August 21, 2006                                       $200

                          Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Éric Savoie

Campbellton, NB

Count 1: Harvesting softshell clams in a closed area.

Count 2: Possession of softshell clams under the legal size of 51 mm.

August 21, 2006

$200

                                                         

$200 

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Gino Lepage

Val D’amour, NB

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

August 21, 2006                        

$100

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Gilles Lepage

Val D’amour, NB

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

August 21, 2006                                       $200

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Daniel-Denis Sévigny

Val D’amour, NB

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

August 21, 2006                                       $100

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Yvon Maltais

St. Omer

Count 1: Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

Count 2: Obstructing a fishery officer.

August 21, 2006                                       $200   

                                                          

$75

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Réginald Haché

St. Arthur, NB

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

August 21, 2006                                       $200

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

René Haché

St. Arthur, NB

Possession of more than 300 softshell clams.

August 21, 2006                                       $200

Forfeiture of goods seized.

 Jean Bécu

Réal Poitras

Matapedia

Possession of softshell clams under the legal size of 51 mm.

August 21, 2006                                       $200

Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

Normand Gallant

Matapedia

Possession of softshell clams under the legal size of 51 mm.

August 21, 2006                                       $200

 Forfeiture of goods seized.

Jean Bécu

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DOLPHIN RESCUED IN THE MAGDALEN ISLANDS

By Karina Laberge

On September 28, an Atlantic white-sided dolphin that had been beached on the Chemin du Moulin beach at Bassin (Magdalen Islands) was saved. Pushed back by the waves of a rough sea, the dolphin was no longer able to reach deeper water on its own. A team of employees from the local aquarium, the municipality and Fisheries and Oceans Canada and members of the Havre Aubert fishermen’s association came to the rescue. After a short stay on dry land, the animal was moved by truck to the Havre Aubert wharf and released into calmer, deeper waters.

The Atlantic white-sided dolphin lives in the cool temperate waters of the Atlantic between the latitudes of New York and Greenland. It returns to coastal waters, such as the St. Lawrence Estuary and Gulf, in the summer months. It is known that this species is beached fairly often.

Picture - Dolphin rescue in the magdalen islands

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NEW AQUATIC SPECIES PROTECTED BY SARA

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Environment Canada announced the addition of 32 land-based species and 10 aquatic species to Schedule 1, the list of species protected under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). The fin whale, Atlantic population, and the grass pickerel will be listed as special concern.

Eight aquatic species will not be listed at this time, including five populations of beluga whales, the porbeagle shark and two populations of white sturgeon. “Our focus continues to be the long-term health of these aquatic species,” said Minister Hearn. “We will continue to enforce the protections offered by the Fisheries Act, while pursuing action plans to help these species recover. This approach allows us some flexibility to ensure that we don't negatively affect the fishing industry as we focus on helping these species make a comeback. These are both worthwhile goals, and I believe they can both be achieved.

The Minister of the Environment is recommending not listing five populations of belugas at this time, among which the Ungava Bay and Eastern Hudson Bay populations, to allow additional time to further engage the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board. This way, final listing decisions will be made in full consideration of the views of Inuit and of the Board. The conservation measures already in place for beluga whales will be continued.

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TALKING ABOUT FISH HABITAT CONSERVATION AT THE SALON DES AFFAIRES MUNICIPALES

By Nathalie St-Hilaire

Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Fish Habitat Conservation team was in attendance at the Salon des affaires municipales (Municipal Affairs Fair) held in the City of Québec convention centre on September 28 and 29, taking the opportunity to contact municipal officials and discuss with them the fish habitat conservation measures applicable to projects carried out in or near watercourses

Best practice guides and legislative texts were handed out to visitors, acquainting them with the importance of adopting appropriate work methods and techniques right from the planning stage of a project, in order to avoid loss of fish habitat. The tenor of the discussions showed that municipal authorities are interested in fish habitat conservation. Visit the Department’s Web site for more information about your obligations under the Fisheries Act at www.qc.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/habitat/en/accueil.htm

Picture - Salon des affaires municipales

Quebec Harbour Authorities also took part in the Salon des affaires municipales. Throughout the show, Guy Lévesque, of the Rivière-Madeleine harbour authority, and Marie Chiasson, of the regional Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Small Craft Harbours Branch and Real Property Services, answered visitors’ questions.

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Infoceans

October - November 2006
Volume 9
Number 5

Published by:
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Quebec Region
Communications Branch
104, Dalhousie St.
Quebec (Québec)  G1K 7Y7
Telephone: (418) 648-7747

Acting Director:
Marcel-M. Boudreau

Editor:
Viviane Haeberlé

Visual Coordinator:
Denis Chamard