Integrated Fisheries Management Plan

Lobster in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence



This section provides an overview of some of the key management measures for information purposes only. Full details are found in various regulations, schedules and in conditions of licences. Information relating to the major management measures is available at Decisions for Atlantic Canada, Quebec and the Arctic.

Fishing Areas/Seasons

The scheduled lobster fishing season for LFAs 23, 24, 26A and 26B is from 6:00 a.m. April 30th and closes on July 1. The fishing season in a portion of LFA 26A (between Point Prim and Victoria in P.E.I.) opens on May 7 and closes on July 8. The scheduled season for LFA 25 is 6:00 am August 9 to October 10. However, it is common practice for the actual opening dates to be varied due to ice or weather conditions.

Authorized fishing times for Aboriginal organizations fishing under food, social or ceremonial licences may vary from those of the commercial fishery.

Control and Monitoring of Removals

Management measures related to removals from the fishery include minimum carapace size limits, the immediate return of female lobsters within a size window and of all egg-bearing lobsters to the water. There are also measures that prohibit possession of body parts separated from the thorax as well as the removal of eggs from lobsters. In some LFAs, there is a minimum number of traps per line as well as limits on the maximum sizes of entry hoops authorized for use in the traps.

Management measures also limit numbers of licences, authorize the use of baited traps (only) and include restrictions on the size and numbers of traps, the use of rectangular escape vents and the use of biodegradable panels.

Precautionary Approach

In general, the precautionary approach in fisheries management is about being cautious when scientific knowledge is uncertain, and not using the absence of adequate scientific information as a reason to postpone action or failure to take action to avoid serious harm to fish stocks or their ecosystem. This approach is widely accepted as an essential part of sustainable fisheries management. Applying the precautionary approach to fisheries management decisions entails establishing a harvest strategy that:

  • identifies three stock status zones – healthy, cautious, and critical;
  • sets the removal rate at which fish may be harvested within each stock status zone;
  • adjusts the removal rate according to fish stock status variations (i.e., spawning stock biomass or another index/metric relevant to population productivity), based on harvest control rules.

Harvest strategies incorporating the precautionary approach are developed for all key harvested stocks managed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada using its policy; A Fishery Decision-Making Framework Incorporating the Precautionary Approach

Biological reference points that conform to the Precautionary Approach are being developed for the southern Gulf Lobster stock. Harvest decision rules will be developed with the participation of stakeholders and First Nations and will take into account the status of the stock and the biological reference points. In the absence of harvest decision rules, the fishery will continue to be managed with caution.


Anyone fishing lobster must have a valid licence and conditions of licence with the exception of communal commercial licences held by Aboriginal organizations, vessels must be registered and display vessel registration numbers. Crew members must also be registered as commercial fish harvesters. For communal commercial licences held by Aboriginal organizations, vessels and crews must be designated to fish.

In order to avoid migrations or concentrations of fishing effort within LFAs, freezes have been introduced on the reissuance of licences and on partnerships between various geographic areas within some LFAs. Additionally, in some LFAs, fish harvesters are required to land their catches at specific ports within specified geographic areas.

A number of policies are in place to promote independent core harvesters, the owner/operator policy, the fleet separation policy, etc. More information about these and other policies are found in the “Commercial Fisheries Licensing Policy for the Gulf Region”. Policies governing aboriginal fishing are presently in development.

Habitat Protection Measures

Several areas are closed to scallop dragging to protect key lobster habitat from the potential negative impacts of scallop dragging.