Summary – Smelt

This five-year (2007–2011) Integrated Fisheries Management Plan covers the smelt fishery (Osmerus mordax) in coastal and inland waters of eastern New Brunswick, including all watersheds between Dalhousie and Baie-Verte (statistical districts 63 to 80). This fishing plan has been prepared based on the principles of sustainable development, ecosystem approach, integrated management and a precautionary approach, in accordance with the Oceans Act and the Species at Risk Act.

The plan is designed to be implemented in conjunction with annual updates to allow adjustments of specific management measures linked to fishing areas, fishing seasons and catch limits.

The smelt is harvested commercially in the fall and in winter before the start of the spawning run. In the fall, commercial fishers use gill nets and box nets in open water, while in winter, fishing is done through holes cut in the ice. The recreational fishery is carried out using dip nets in April and May. Smelt fishing using spears, drop lines or set lines is allowed in certain rivers and is traditionally carried out from wharves in the summer or ice shacks in the winter.

The Elsipogtog, Buctouche, Eel River Bar, and Esgenoopetitj First Nations hold communal commercial smelt licences. In total, 56 licences were issued to the First Nations for the communal commercial fishery and for food, social, and ceremonial purposes.

For many fishers, the smelt fishery is an off-season activity. For others, it is combined with other coastal fisheries such as gaspereau, eels, oysters and clams. Based on 2004 data, the commercial smelt fishery involves 599 licence holders which are divided among core, coastal, and Aboriginal fishers.


Summary – Smelt can be downloaded as a full version document in PDF: Integrated Smelt Fishery Management Plan 2007-2011 [PDF - 985 KB]

To obtain a copy of the report, please send an email to DFO Gulf Region at