Today, Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, announced new fishery management measures for gear configuration for the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery that will reduce risks to these whales and help ensure their survival.
These new fishery measures take into account feedback that was shared at the Ministerial Roundtable on North Atlantic Right Whales hosted by Minister LeBlanc in Moncton, New Brunswick on November 9, 2017.
The meeting included representatives of the fishing and marine transportation industries, non-governmental partners, Indigenous community members and scientists. Participants provided a wide array of perspectives and valuable information that added to a more thorough understanding of the situation.
The changes for the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fishery include:
- Reducing the amount of rope floating on the surface of the water.
- A maximum of 3.7 metres – or two fathoms – of rope can be used when attaching a secondary buoy to a primary buoy.
- No rope attaching a crab trap to a primary buoy can remain floating on the surface of the water after the crab trap has been set.
- Marking rope with a colour specific to each fishing area
- Licence holders are required to mark rope that is used to attach a crab trap to a primary buoy with a color specific to the fishing area in which they are authorized to fish.
- Identifying buoys with a sequential number (This is in addition to the current requirement to mark buoys with the vessel registration number.)
- Licence holders are required to identify each primary buoy with a sequential number so individual crab trap can be identified.
- Mandatory reporting of all lost gear
- Beginning in 2018 all licence holders are now required to report lost gear.
These management measures will contribute to reducing gear entanglements, tracking lost gear, and better understanding the interactions between whales and fishing gear. Other suggestions included: modifying fishing gear, adjusting fishing seasons, recovering gear from the ocean floor, and better collaborating with partners.
Additional management measures and actions to protect whales are being considered and will be announced in the near future.