Procedures for Monitoring and Control of Small Fish Catches and Incidental Catches in Atlantic Groundfish Fisheries

Table of Contents

Procedures at-a-Glance

Decision to Close

When

An area may1 be closed to a specified fleet sector when the number of undersized fish reaches or exceeds 15% of the catch of any of the species outlined in table 1 (p.8) or when incidental catches of a closed species reaches or exceeds the established level for the fleet (refer to Conservation Harvesting Plan).

Duration of Closure

The fishery will be closed for a minimum of 10 consecutive days, with industry funding any test fishery.

Responsibility

Regional Resource Management Division makes the decision, informs Regional Conservation and Protection Branches

Sampling

Responsibility Calculation

Regional Observer Program enters data, and completes the verification and provides data for analysis.

Procedures/Method of

See Annex IV.

Test Fisheries

When

Prior to the initial opening of a fishery where required or prior to re-opening an area which had closed to a given fleet sector.

Who can Participate

Interested fishermen who have remaining quota can identify themselves at DFO area offices. DFO Area office staff and/or industry will select vessels.

Vessels will be selected and issued temporary licences to conduct the test activity. The licence can specify a restricted area in which the testing can be carried out.

Duration

Tests will be conducted in a closed area for a one day period, or until an adequate sample is taken. The test may begin on day 9 of the closure.

Results are evaluated on day 10. Re-opening could occur on day 11, depending on results.

Decision to Re-Open

When

If the number of small fish is below 15% of the total catch for the test fishery and incidental catches are within the acceptable levels for the fleet, re-opening can occur.

If the number of small fish is equal or above 15% of the catch or incidental catches are equal to or greater than the established level for that fleet, another 10-day closure may be put in effect.

If a particular fishery is closed twice during the year because of high levels of incidental catch or small fish, the fishery may remain closed for the remainder of the year.

Responsibility

Regional Resource Management Division makes the decision, informs Regional Conservation and Protection Branches. Appropriate Regional staff prepares the variation order setting out the terms and conditions of the closure which is signed by the RDG.

A. Introduction:

A temporary closure system used by DFO to protect small fish in some Atlantic regions that began in 1993 has been expanded and will be more strictly applied to include incidental catches. These procedures close a fishery when 15% of the number of fish caught (rather than 15% of the weight of fish caught) are undersized or if established incidental catch levels are exceeded. Closures will be established on the basis of the catch during a single day and will be in effect for a minimum period of ten days. Moreover, the measure must be applied in all Atlantic regions, for all gear/fleet sectors engaged in directed groundfish fisheries where a minimum fish size and incidental catch levels have been specified.

The procedures and protocols defined hereafter reflect the basis for the closing of specific areas.

B. Purpose:

The purpose of this document is to standardize the operating procedures and decision making processes on the Atlantic coast in order to facilitate the application of the proposed measures for the control of catches of small fish and incidental catches. The criteria for closures and re-openings are thus defined and documented together with monitoring requirements, sampling protocols, communication of resulting information and decisions. While the procedures listed in this document should be followed as closely as possible, operational requirements may occasionally result in deviations. These deviations will not invalidate decisions on closures or test fisheries. The costs of all test fisheries will be borne by the industry.

C. Authority:

The Minister of Fisheries and Oceans has the authority under subsection 22(1) of the Fishery (General) Regulations (FGR) to impose licence conditions for ensuring that the Department’s objectives of conservation and proper management and control of fisheries are achieved. Also, section 93.3 provides for the retention (mandatory landing), authorized and mandatory release (return to water) of groundfish.

D. Definitions:

“Directed Fishery” means fishing that is directed at a certain species or group of species identified in the licence.

“Incidental Catch/Incidentally Harvested” means part of a catch taken from a fishing unit taken incidentally in addition to the directed species. This includes some species not regulated. Some or all of it may be returned to the sea as discards, where authorized by licence condition.

Unless otherwise stated, incidental catch restrictions are expressed as daily limits (00:001 hours to 24:00 hours local time) and are always calculated using round weight.

Unless otherwise stated, incidental catch restrictions expressed as a percentage are always calculated as a percentage of the round weight of the directed species.

“Small fish” means a fish from Table 1 of species that is smaller than:

Table 1
Table defining what constitutes a small fish depending on the species and the fishing area.

The first row contains the titles of the columns: species; where; when smaller than. The first column specifies the species; the second column specifies the fishing area; the third column specifies the size at which individuals of the species, in the specified area, are considered to be small fish.
SpeciesWhereWhen smaller than
Cod 3Ps 45cm
Cod Elsewhere than 3Ps 43cm
Haddock all areas 43cm
Pollock all areas 43cm
Redfish all areas 22cm
Witch Flounder 4VWX+5 33cm
Witch Flounder Elsewhere than 4VWX+5 30cm
American Plaice all areas 30cm
Yellowtail 4T 25cm
Yellowtail Elsewhere than 4T 30cm
Greenland Halibut Sub areas 0A & 0B, 2, 3 45cm
Greenland Halibut 4RST 44cm
Winter flounder 4T 25cm
White Hake 4VWX, 4RST 45cm
Atlantic Halibut 4RST 85 cm
Atlantic Halibut Elsewhere than 4RST 81 cm

In respect to a species of groundfish length, means the distance measured in a straight line from the tip of the nose to the fork of the tail. Where the head has been removed, the measure will be from the foremost part of the fish to the fork of the tail, or where the tail has been removed, to the end of the fish.

“Region” means one of DFO’s six administrative regions, those being Pacific, Central & Arctic, Quebec, Gulf, Maritimes and Newfoundland and Labrador.

E. General Policy:

Sampling

General

Daily at-sea monitoring of the size of the fish caught and incidental catches harvested is now required. To ensure that the control of small fish and incidental catches is applied consistently and uniformly, the data gathering must be done according to a specific protocol. For some fixed gear fleets, sampling will occur at dockside.

Sampling responsibilities

Fishery Officers and the Regional observer programs will collect the data necessary to monitor at-sea, the proportion of small fish and incidental catch in the harvest. Observer Program personnel must complete data capture forms while at sea in accordance with the guidelines they receive at the briefing session. The data are checked by the observers and sent to the regional DFO office at the latest in the morning following the day the data are collected (including weekend periods). Additional data will be collected by other means at dockside.

Sampling procedures and method of calculation

The sampling procedures and the method of calculating the observed percentage of small fish and incidental catches are described in Annex IV.

Daily distribution of results

In each Region, data entry, verification and analysis are completed by the Observer Program.

Definition and specificity of closures

Duration of closures

When the criteria for closing an area has been met by a specific gear sector, that area will be closed to fishing by members of the sector for a minimum period of ten (10) consecutive days. The specific fisheries sectors, areas and species that will be subject to closures are specified below, together with the criteria for closures.

Species subject to closures

All groundfish species will be subject to small fish and/or incidental catch closures.

Sectors subject to closures

Closures will apply on a fleet sector/area basis as outlined in Conservation Harvesting Plans. Cod trap catches may also be sampled at dockside.

Areas subject to closures

The areas that could be subject to closures are outlined in Annex I-III. Closures for Cod trap fisheries may include bays or sections of shoreline.

Decision to close

Goal

The goal of the new measures is to ensure that no specified groundfish smaller than the specified minimum fish size are harvested and to ensure that incidental catches of closed stocks are minimized.

Criteria for closures

Although the objective is not to harvest any fish smaller than the minimum size or any fish from closed stocks, an area may be closed to a specified fleet sector when it is estimated that the number of small fish caught in a day reaches or exceeds 15% of the total catch or when incidental catches reach or exceed the established levels (refer to CHPs) for any of the species covered by these procedures. Also, the criteria will be evaluated on the basis of the observed catch of any single fishing day.

Responsibility for decision

When the application of the above criteria indicates that an area should be closed to a specific fleet sector, a decision is made by the Resource Management Division of the Region concerned and in charge of monitoring this closure area. The region will inform the Conservation and Protection Branch of each region.

Preparation of variation order

Shortly after receiving data from the Observer Program the decision to close an area to a specific fleet sector may be taken.

Initial Openings and Re-Openings After Closure

Test fisheries

General

Test fisheries may be conducted where required and will be conducted in the areas outlined in Annexes I-III prior to the initial opening of a fishery and/or, when an area has been closed to a given sector, prior to re-opening of that area. Each vessel participating in a test fishery will have to carry a DFO at-sea observer. Only a limited number of vessels will participate in the test fishery and vessels participating in these fisheries will be allowed to fish only when the observer is available to sample the catch obtained from a set or string.

Duration and Timing

Tests will be conducted in the closed area on day 9 of the closure for a minimum period of one day. In general, evaluation of the results of the test fisheries will be performed on day 10 and, if indications are that the fishery can be re-opened, a variation order will be issued on that day for re-opening on the following day. However, if unforeseen circumstances (e.g. weather) prevent fishing in any given day; the test fishery will be undertaken in any subsequent day until one day of fishing has been completed. For each test fishery, the test will include a minimum of five (5) sets in the offshore fishery and a minimum sample of 2,000 lbs for other fleets or a lower limit if authorized.

The costs of all test fisheries will be borne by industry.

Sampling

The sampling procedures and the method of calculation are described in Annex IV. However, while conducting a test for re-opening, the at-sea observers will be asked to take a sample from each set (tow) to a maximum of 500 fish per day to determine small fish percentage.

Test fishing licences

Selection of vessels

Fishers interested in participating in the test fishery will be given the opportunity to identify themselves to the DFO area office. However, a fisher will not be eligible for participation in a test fishery if his quota has already been caught. The Area Office identified by the Regional Office is responsible for selecting vessels at random from the list of interested fishers, keeping in mind the necessity of having a gear type composition in the test fishery that is representative of a normal fishery. If more than one gear type is represented, the random selection can be made within gear types. For the offshore fleet, the participating vessels will be identified by the fleet sector as a whole. In Cod trap fisheries some monitoring will take place at the trap sites as well as sampling at dockside.

Test fishing licences

Once the vessels have been chosen and captains have agreed to participate in a test fishery, their names and other basic information will be sent to the managers of the Observer Program in each region. Observers will be assigned to each vessel according to the home region of the vessel. The local licensing authority will prepare the required licence to participate in the test fishery. Depending on the specific circumstances, this licence can be a Section 52 licence issued under the authority of the Fishery (General) Regulations (FGR) or a Section 7 licence issued under the authority of the Fisheries Act. The DFO Guidelines regarding the retention and release of fish caught in accordance with a licence issued under Section 52 of the FGR – April 2007, apply. The licence will be valid for the duration of the test fishery only.

Re-opening an area

Criteria for opening and re-testing

If the numbers of small fish are estimated to be below 15% of the total number caught for each species covered by these procedures for the one day of the test and incidental catches are below the established level for the fleet, the fishery can be opened. On the other hand, if the number of small fish is estimated to be equal to or above 15% of the total number caught for each species covered by these procedures, or incidental catches are equal to or greater than the established incidental catch level for the fleet then testing will not be permitted for another 10 days or longer. The area is to remain closed for that sector until the results of test fishing conducted at the specified intervals (i.e. no sooner than on day 9 of a closure) indicate that the number of small fish are estimated to be below 15% of the total number caught in that test and incidental catches are within the established levels for the fleet. If no tests are conducted, the area remains closed. There will be no automatic re-opening of the fishery.

Authority for reopening

When justified by test results, the closed area is re-opened. The decision to re-open is the responsibility of the Resource Management Division in each DFO region.

Annex I – Areas Subject to Closures/Test Fishing (Gulf of St. Lawrence)


ANNEX I – Areas Subject to Closures/Test Fishing (Gulf of St. Lawrence)

Annex II – Areas Subject to Closures/Test Fishing (Scotian Shelf)


ANNEX II – Areas Subject to Closures/Test Fishing (Scotian Shelf)

Annex III- Areas Subject to Closures/Test Fishing (SW Nova Scotia/Bay of Fundy)


ANNEX III- Areas Subject to Closures/Test Fishing (SW Nova Scotia/Bay of Fundy)

Annexes IV & V – Areas subject to closures/test fishing (Sub-areas 0 and 2 & 3)


ANNEXES IV & V – Areas subject to closures/test fishing (Sub-areas 0 and 2 & 3)

Annex VI Method of Calculation

The methods described below will be used to calculate the percentage of small fish, and incidental catches in the harvests of those boats which are observed. The procedure involves weighting the observations from each boat by the total catch of the boat. This is done to ensure that the magnitude of the catches of the different boats is taken into account.

As much as possible, observers will be assigned randomly to commercial vessels. The presence of several observers in a zone on each day ensures that the chances are small that the fishery will be closed when the actual percentage of small fish or incidental catches in the catches is negligible. To determine small fish percentage, observers collect data from as many sets or strings as possible according to the procedures described below.

Determine the Small Fish Percentage

Sample size

Normal observer biological length frequency samples may be used to determine the percentage of small fish in the catches. These normal sampling procedures should be maintained. It will be up to the regional observer coordinators, in consultation with regional Science Branch staff, to determine if additional sampling is required. Normal sample sizes for length frequencies are of approximately 250 fish.

Selection of the sets or strings to be sampled

As the goal is to obtain a representative sample of the fish caught, the sets or strings to sample should be selected in a way that is free from personal selection bias. Also, fishers should not know in advance which sets or strings will be sampled as this could change their fishing practices accordingly. The appropriate procedure is to determine the intensity of sampling that is practical given the conditions (e.g., 25% or 50% of the tows) and then randomly pick the tows which will be sampled.

Selection of fish to be sampled within a set or strings to be sampled

As is the case for determining which sets to sample, the choice of fish to measure should be free from personal selection bias. When the fish are brought on board, a portion of the fish is randomly selected to be measured. The procedures for sample selection will be dictated by conditions aboard the vessel and will be the same as those used for regular biological length frequency sampling.

Data recording

For each set made or string hauled it is necessary to record the weight of fish caught. For each set sampled, the weight of the sample is required as well as the lengths of each fish in the sample.

Determining the Incidental catch Percentage

Normal observer weighing of tows will be used to determine the daily incidental catch percentage for observed vessels. All observed incidental catch levels must be reported on a daily basis.

Method of calculation to determine percentage of small fish

The following calculation should be performed separately for each species of interest.

Then, if

NFish(i) is the number of fish measured in the sample from set (i)
NSmall(i) is the number of the measured fish from set (i) which are small

Wsam(i) is the weight of the NFish(i) fish measured from set (i)
Wcatch(i) is the total catch weight for the species in set (i)

SetSmall(i) is the number of small fish in set (i) computed as

SetSmall(i) = Nsmall(i) x Wcatch(i) / Wsam(i)

and SetTotal(i) is the total number of fish caught in set (i) computed as

SetTotal(i) = NFish(i) x Wcatch(i) / Wsam(i).

For the one boat for the whole day, the number of small fish caught, BoatSmall(day), is computed as:


BoatSmall(day) =


(sum of all SetSmall(i))
---------------- x Catch weight for the whole day
(sum of all Wcatch(i))

and for the one boat for the whole day the number of fish caught, BoatTotal(day), is computed as:


BoatTotal(day) =


(sum of all SetTotal(i))
---------------- x Catch weight for the whole day
(sum of all Wcatch(i))

The percent of small fish caught in a day is therefore computed as follows:


Percent =


sum of BoatSmall(day) for all vessels sampled
----------------
sum of BoatTotal(day) for all vessels sampled

Method of calculation to determine incidental catch percentage

The following calculation should be performed for each species of interest.

Then, if

IFish is the weight of “incidentally harvested” fish for the species in which the incidental catch percentage is being determined

OFish is the total weight of the directed species harvested in the directed fishery, authorized under the licence,

BVessel is the percentage of incidental catch for that vessel and is calculated as

BVessel = IFish / OFish x 100

Then to determine the incidental catch percentage for the whole fleet in the area for the day

TIFish is the total weight of incidentally harvested fish for the species in which the incidental catch percentage is being determined by all observed vessels from the same fleet fishing in the same zone

TOFish is the total observed weight of all other directed species harvested from vessels in the same fleet fishing in the same zone

BFleet is the percentage of incidental catch for observed vessels from the same fleet fishing a particular zone and is calculated as

BFleet = TIFish / TOFish x 100

Annex VII - Consultations Held

November 30, 2005 >65’ Groundfish Consultation Meeting, Halifax, NS

  • Bruce Chapman – GEAC
  • Bev Sheppard – HGSC
  • Christine Penney – Clearwater
  • Tom Fennelly – 65-100’ MG
  • Rob Coombs – Innu Nation FG 65-100’ Ueushuk Fisheries
  • John Cabot – Baffin Sound Ltd.
  • Jason Dunphy – Fixed Gear Offshore Harvesters
  • Rosalind Perry – LFUSC
  • Andy Hennebury- Ivy Fisheries
  • Margo Swim – Lady Sharell Fisheries
  • Wilson Fudge – FPI
  • Michael O’Connor – Icewater
  • John Andrews – 10507 NL ltd.
  • Olin Gregan – Barry Group

February 7-8, 2006 Sub-Area 0 Turbot Management Plan Review Meeting, Iqaluit, Nunavut

  • Samie Josephee – Amoraok HTA
  • David Middleton – Barry Group
  • Karl Sullivan – Barry Group
  • Jerry Ward – BFC
  • Ben Kovic – BFC
  • Johnny Mike – BFC
  • David Alexander – BFC
  • Brian Burke – Burke Consulting
  • Joopa Sowdluapik – C. Sound Fisheries
  • Roger Alivaktuk – C. Sound Fisheries
  • Peter Matthews – Clearwater
  • Christine Penney – Clearwater
  • John Andrews – Davis Strait Mgmt
  • Lance Dawe – Davis Strait Mgmt
  • Grant Stonehouse – Davis Strait Mgmt
  • Paul Glavine – DFA NL
  • Wayne Lynch – DOE GN
  • Esberg Kjolbro – Farocan
  • Rex Simmonds – FG Inshore
  • Clarence Cabot – Funk Island Banker
  • Bev Sheppard – HGSC
  • Leesee Papatsie – Jencor Fisheries
  • Russel Chislett – Kabva Marine
  • Rob Coombs – Katsheshuk/Ueushuk
  • Phil Quinlan – LFUSC
  • Ken Fowler – LFUSC
  • Adamie Alaku – Makivik Corp.
  • Neil Greig – Makivik Corp.
  • Johnny Peters – Makivik Corp
  • Nick Illauq – Mammaqtlirjiit Fisheries
  • Maliktoo Lyta – Mayukalik HTA
  • Billy Palluq – Municipality of Clyde River
  • Brian Shebib – MV Osprey
  • James Qilliq – Namautaq HTA
  • Manasie Audlakiak – Namautaq HTA
  • Koalie Kooneelise – Nattivak HTO
  • Samuel Nuqingaq – Nattivak HTO
  • Brian McNamara –Newfound Resources
  • Jeff Simms – Newfound Resources
  • Jeff Maurice – NTI
  • Glenn Williams – NTI
  • Stanley Oliver – LIA
  • Jim Noble – NWMB
  • Joe Tigullaraq – NWMB
  • Joe Justus – NWMB
  • Michael Nowlinski – Pang Fisheries
  • Jacopie Maniapik – Pang Fisheries
  • Jooeelee Papatsie – Pang HTO
  • Adamie – Pang
  • Peter Keenainak – Qikiqtaalik Corp
  • Brian McLeod – Qukiqtaalik Corp.
  • Robin Quinlan – Quinlan Brothers
  • Sytukie Joamie – Quliruaq Inc.
  • Gideonie Joamie – Quliruaq Inc.
  • Rick Selleck – Senate of Canada
  • Senator Adams – Senate of Canada
  • Harry Earle – Terra Nova Trading
  • Keith Watts – Torngat
  • Greg Flower – Torngat
  • Tevor Decker – TriNav Consultants
  • Brooks Pilgrim – TriNav Consultants

April 11-12, 2006 Gulf Groundfish Advisory Committee

  • Jocelyn Thériault, RPPIM
  • Alyre Gauvin, APPFA
  • Réginald Cotton, ACPG
  • Michel Legere, ACAG
  • Guy Perry, FFAW
  • Annie Ferguson, Prov. of NB
  • David Decker, FFAW
  • Ken Campbell, PEIFA
  • Jean-Marc Legault, ACPG
  • Dave MacEwen, Prov. of PEI
  • Gilles Albert, APMRC Pabok
  • Kay Wallace, Fed of GNSGF
  • Allen Cotton, ACPG
  • Paul Nadeau, LNSFA
  • Josée Richard, FPSHQ
  • André Boucher, APNG
  • Clary Reardon, Prov of NS
  • Loomis Way, FFAW
  • Bruce Chapman, GEAC/MIGVO
  • Joe Buchanan, NS
  • Novak, NOSIS
  • Eda Roussel, FRAPP
  • David Coffin, Prov of NL
  • Denis Robichaud, APPFA
  • Robert Courtney, NOSIS
  • Gerald Martin, MFU
  • Clifford Aucoin, NCBFVA
  • Michel Richard, MFU
  • Donnie Strongman, PEIFA
  • Kevin Hardy, FFAW
  • Onil Cloutier RPPSG

1 Harvests of undersized fish will be closely monitored to determine if additional management measures (i.e. area/seasonal closures) are required.