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Integrated fisheries management plan summary: Groundfish - Pacific Region, 2022

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Foreword

The purpose of this Integrated Fisheries Management Plan (IFMP) is to identify the main objectives and requirements for the Groundfish fishery in the Pacific Region, as well as the management measures that will be used to achieve these objectives. This document also serves to communicate the basic information on the fishery and its management to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) staff, legislated co-management boards and other stakeholders. This IFMP provides a common understanding of the basic “rules” for the sustainable management of the fisheries resource.

This IFMP is not a legally binding instrument which can form the basis of a legal challenge. The IFMP can be modified at any time and does not fetter the Minister's discretionary powers set out in the Fisheries Act, Species At Risk Act, and Oceans Act. The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other valid reasons, modify any provision of the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act, Species At Risk Act, and Oceans Act.

Where DFO is responsible for implementing obligations under land claims agreements, the IFMP will be implemented in a manner consistent with these obligations. In the event that an IFMP is inconsistent with obligations under land claims agreements, the provisions of the land claims agreements will prevail to the extent of the inconsistency.

This IFMP is a living document that will be subjected to a review annually for updates, with input from interested parties. Any changes required within a given fishing season will continue to be made as needed.

IFMP documents are available from the DFO Pacific Region Internet site.

1. Introduction

1.1 History

Each year Fisheries and Oceans Canada provides opportunities to First Nations for food, social and ceremonial (FSC) purposes (or domestic purposes for First Nations with modern treaties), and the commercial and recreational fisheries to harvest groundfish. First Nations, recreational, and commercial fisheries on the Pacific Coast of Canada have long harvested groundfish. Groundfish serve as a source of food, they provide jobs, income, and enjoyment for individuals, businesses, and coastal communities and they play key roles in natural ecosystems.

2. Type of fishery and participants

2.1.1. First Nations

In the 1990 Sparrow decision, the Supreme Court of Canada found that where an Indigenous group has an Indigenous right to fish for Food, Social, and Ceremonial (FSC) purposes, it takes priority, after conservation, over other uses of the resource. Fisheries are authorized via a Communal Licence issued by the Department under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations.

Five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations located on the west coast of Vancouver Island - Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht (the Five Nations) – have aboriginal rights to fish for any species, with the exception of Geoduck, within their Fishing Territories and to sell that fish.

Fisheries chapters in modern First Nation treaties may articulate a treaty fishing right for FSC purposes that are protected under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Some modern treaty First Nations are provided commercial access either through the general commercial fishery or a Harvest Agreement. While this commercial access may be referenced in the treaty, it is not protected under the Constitution Act.

2.1.2. Recreational

A recreational fishery may occur where authorized by a valid Tidal Waters Sport Fishing licence, which is required for the recreational harvest of all species of fish. Approximately 300,000 Tidal Waters Sport Fishing licences are sold each year. Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Licences can be purchased online by using the DFO website.

2.1.3. Commercial

There are seven distinct commercial groundfish sectors: Groundfish trawl, Halibut, Sablefish, Inside Rockfish, Outside Rockfish, Lingcod, and Dogfish fisheries that are managed according to the measures set out in this management plan. The management of these sector groups is integrated, with all groups subject to 100% at-sea monitoring and 100% dockside monitoring, individual vessel accountability for all catch (both retained and released), individual transferable quotas (ITQ), and reallocation of these quotas between vessels and fisheries to cover catch of non-directed species. There are approximately 250 active commercial groundfish vessels. Information on licensed vessels is available online at the DFO website.

First Nations have communal access to commercial opportunities through communal commercial licences acquired through the Allocation Transfer Program (ATP) and Pacific Integrated Commercial Fisheries Initiative (PICFI). Some fisheries access associated with communal commercial licences/quota issued to the Five Nations (or entities they are part of) has been offered for the right-based sale fishery. Consultations with the Five Nations about this access is ongoing for the 2022/23 FMP. This could result in in-season changes regarding the issuance of these licences and/or quota.

The Maa-nulth have an allocation for commercial groundfish fishing outside of the Treaty as identified in the “Maa-nulth First Nation Harvest Agreement”. The allocations in the Harvest Agreement do not affirm Indigenous or Treaty rights. These licences are fished in a manner that is comparable to the general commercial fishery.

Map of Commercial Groundfish Management Areas
Figure 1: Commercial Groundfish Management Area Map

3. Stock assessment, science and traditional knowledge

3.1. Groundfish stock assessment program

Stock assessment and research programs involving groundfish are conducted by the Department and through cooperative research programs carried out in conjunction with industry associations. Stock assessment advice has been provided for over 70 commercially exploited groundfish stocks. Science personnel, in association with DFO fishery managers and groundfish user group representatives, establish assessment priorities and timing schedules for assessments. These programs are intended to support ongoing evaluation of management measures. Opportunities for stakeholder involvement and co-operative ventures in research and assessment activities are pursued.

During the 2021/22 fishery season, harvest advice for Yellowmouth Rockfish was presented for peer review and an updated Science Response for Bocaccio (last assessed in 2019) was completed. Harvest advice updates for outside Yelloweye Rockfish and Sablefish based on adopted management procedures were provided, as were updates for Pacific Hake and Halibut1. In 2022/23 harvest advice is anticipated for Arrowtooth Flounder, Pacific Cod, Sablefish, Canary Rockfish, Quillback Rockfish (inside population) and outside Yelloweye Rockfish stocks.

Upon receipt of science advice and in consultation with Departmental advisory processes, new catch limits for the 2022/23 are under review for Sablefish. New catch limits for 2022/23 have been established for Bocaccio, outside Yelloweye and Yellowmouth Rockfish stocks.

3.2. Canadian science advisory secretariat

Science is the basis for sound, evidence-based decision making. DFO Science Sector provides advice on the likelihood of achieving policy objectives under alternative management strategies and tactics. The Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) oversees the provision of all scientific advice required by operational client sectors within the Department (Fisheries Management, Ecosystems Management, and Policy). In the Pacific Region, science advisory processes are managed by the Centre for Science Advice Pacific (CSAP).

Scientific assessments and advice on the assessment and management of the Groundfish fishery is peer reviewed annually in Regional Peer Review (RPR) meetings. Government and non-government individuals with knowledge and technical expertise pertaining to each RPR meeting are invited to contribute to the peer review and development of advice, based on the science presented. The schedule of CSAS meetings is available online at: at this website. General information about the CSAS Policies, Procedures, Schedule and Publications can be found at this website.

Science advice, proceedings and stock assessments/scientific evaluations resulting from CSAS meetings are available online.

3.3. Indigenous knowledge

In 2019, the Fisheries Act was amended to include provisions for where the Minister may, or shall consider provided Indigenous knowledge in making decisions pertaining to fisheries, fish and fish habitat, as well as provisions for the additional protection of that knowledge when shared in confidence.

The term Indigenous knowledge may not be universally used, and other terms such as Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Traditional Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Knowledge, or Aboriginal Traditional Knowledge, which all convey similar concepts, may be used instead.

Indigenous knowledge can inform and fill knowledge gaps related to the health of fish stocks, and aid decision making related to fisheries management. The Government of Canada and the scientific community acknowledge the need to access and incorporate Indigenous knowledge in meaningful and respectful ways. Work is underway at a National level to develop processes for how DFO receives Indigenous knowledge and applies it to inform decision making. This will include consideration of how to engage knowledge holders, and how to ensure that the knowledge can be shared and considered in a mutually acceptable manner by both knowledge holders and the broader community of First Nations, stakeholders, managers, and policy makers involved in the fisheries. This work will be an iterative process done in collaboration with First Nations, Indigenous groups and knowledge holders, to ensure protection of the knowledge provided.

3.4. Biological synopsis

In addition to work directed at providing stock assessments, DFO staff and contracted service providers conduct routine data collection and compilation as well as specialized research on the general biology of groundfish in support of stock assessment. The routine work includes:

4. Economic, social, cultural importance

The purpose of this section is to provide a socio-economic overview of groundfish fisheries in British Columbia using available information. This summary addresses groundfish in the context of the Indigenous Food, Social, and Ceremonial fishery, the recreational fishery, and the commercial fishery including harvesting, processing, and export activity. The focus of this section is on the economic activity of the fisheries rather than measures of economic value (i.e. consumer and producer surpluses). Where available, information on the social and cultural context of the fisheries has been included; these sections may be expanded in future years, as additional information is made available. The information from 2003 to 2018 is included, although the entire period is not covered in all instances due to data limitations. DFO recognizes the unique values of each of the fisheries described here. The overview provided by this profile is intended to help build a common understanding of the socio-economic dimensions of the fisheries rather than compare the fisheries.

4.1. Indigenous fisheries

4.1.1. Food, Social, and Ceremonial Fisheries

Section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, recognizes and affirms the existing Indigenous and treaty rights of the Indigenous peoples in Canada, however it does not specify the nature or content of the rights that are protected. In 1990, the Supreme Court of Canada issued a landmark ruling in the Sparrow decision. This decision found that the Musqueam First Nation has an Indigenous right to fish for FSC purposes. The Supreme Court found that where an Indigenous group has a right to fish for FSC purposes, it takes priority, after conservation, over other uses of the resource. The Supreme Court also indicated the importance of consulting with Indigenous groups when their fishing rights might be affected.

The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) was implemented in 1992 to address several objectives related to First Nations and their access to the resource. These included:

AFS agreements may identify the amounts of species including groundfish that may be fished for FSC purposes, terms and conditions that will be included in the communal fishing licence, and fisheries management arrangements. Currently approximately 58 coastal First Nations are issued communal licences by the Minister that include groundfish for FSC purposes.

4.1.2. Five Nations rights-based sale fishery

Five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations located on the west coast of Vancouver Island - Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht (the Five Nations) – have aboriginal rights to fish for any species, with the exception of Geoduck, within their Fishing Territories and to sell that fish. The Department has developed a 2021/22 Five Nations Multi-species Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP includes specific details about the fishery, such as allocation/access, licensing and designations, fishing area, harvesting opportunities, and fishery monitoring and catch reporting. Feedback provided by the Five Nations during consultations was considered and incorporated into the 2021/22 FMP by DFO where possible.

The implementation of the Five Nations’ right-based sale fishery continues to be an ongoing process. The 2021/22 FMP was developed to implement the right-based multi-species fishery to accommodate the Five Nations’ Aboriginal rights consistent with the British Columbia Supreme Court’s 2018 decision. On April 19, 2021, the British Columbia Court of Appeal released its decision in relation to the appeal brought forward by the Five Nations. As a result, the department has announced a number of in-season changes via fishery notice and has revised the 2021/22 FMP to reflect changes that have been made thus far. Further changes will be announced by fishery notice and/or in the 2022/23 FMP which will be available in the spring of 2022. For further information, see the revised 2021/22 FMP.

4.1.3. Modern treaties and self-government agreements

Fisheries chapters in modern First Nation treaties may articulate a treaty fishing right for FSC purposes that are protected under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Some modern treaty First Nations are provided commercial access either through the general commercial fishery or a Harvest Agreement. While this commercial access may be referenced in the treaty, it is not protected under the Constitution Act.

Six modern treaties and self-government agreements (Nisga’a Final Agreement, Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement (TFA), Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement (MNA), Tla’amin Nation Final Agreement, Sechelt Self-government Act, and Westbank First Nation Self-government Agreement) have been ratified in British Columbia. The Maa-nulth treaty includes five Nuu-cha-nulth First Nations (Ka:’yu:k’t’h/Che:k’tles7eth, Huu-ay-aht, Toquaht, Uchucklesaht, Ucluelet) and came into effect in April 2011; it provides for commercial groundfish in a Harvest Agreement.

4.1.4. Reconciliation agreements

In addition to negotiating treaties, the Government of Canada and Indigenous peoples can also negotiate Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination (RIRSD) agreements, to explore new ways of working together to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination. These agreements are led by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC). Since 2019, the Government of Canada entered into several agreements with First Nations that lay the foundation for incremental development and implementation of new arrangements for collaborative governance on fisheries and marine matters.

4.1.5. Social and cultural significance

Fisheries and the harvest and management of aquatic resources have particular importance to many Indigenous communities. Many Indigenous communities are located adjacent to key fishing sites, oceans and aquatic resources, and consider the management of these resources to be matters important to these communities. There are Indigenous groups who are seeking greater access to economic opportunities from aquatic resources as a potential driver for economic development in their communities; more stability in FSC fisheries; a greater role in the aquatic resource and oceans management decisions that affect them; and a greater role in stewardship, including stock assessment, oceans and habitat management, conservation and protection, and recovery strategy development and implementation.

4.2. Recreational fishery

4.2.1. Participation

Tidal water recreational licences permit access to all marine species, including many groundfish, under the conditions described in the BC Sport Fishing Guide. The number of tidal water licences sold for access in BC decreased from around 337,000 in 2003 to a low of 300,000 in 2008 where it remained until a sharp increase to about 343,000 in 2015 (Figure 2). The majority of the decline (2003-2008) was due to a decrease in the sale of licences to non-Canadian residents, while the increase (2008-2015) was due to increased sales to residents. From 2015 to 2019, the number of tidal water licences has remained relatively stable Footnote 1. During the 2019/20 and 2020/21 fishing season, the number of recreational licences sold saw a steep decline, likely due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Figure 2. BC Tidal Water Recreational Fishing Licences by Canadian Resident Status, 2003/04-2020/21*. 
					Source: DFO Internal Recreational Licensing data.
Figure 2. BC Tidal Water Recreational Fishing Licences by Canadian Resident Status, 2003/04-2020/21*. Source: DFO Internal Recreational Licensing data.Footnote 2

4.2.2. Economic contribution

The contribution of the tidal waters recreational fishing sector (all species) to BC’s gross domestic product (GDP)Footnote 3 in 2016 was estimated at $422.8 Million in 2016 (the last year for which data is available) having seen an increase in growth of 91.5% since 2000 Footnote 4. The data from the 2015 National Survey of Recreational Fishing indicates that groundfish accounted for approximately 27% of total direct fishing expenditures and about 20% of major purchases attributed to fishing in BC.

Determining the contribution of the recreational fishing sector to the economy is complicated, as some, but not all, of the GDP, employment and revenue attributable to the industry is also part of the province’s tourism sector. Tourists are those people who travel 80 kilometres or more from their usual place of residence in order to participate in the activity. While many anglers live near the coast of BC and can participate without travelling far from home, others must travel to participate in the tidal water recreational fishery and are classified as tourists. Consequently, there is significant overlap in the economic values for the recreational fishing sector and the tourism sector. Approximately 27% of the overall recreational fishing sector’s contribution to GDP is the result of activities not directly related to fishing, but rather includes non-angling activities undertaken by tourist anglers (e.g. visiting a museum).

4.2.3. Social and cultural significance

There is a lack of data on the location of recreational fishing sector dependent employment, and thus it is not possible to comment on the social significance of the fishery. However, it is recognized that recreational fishing activities - in particular, providers of fishing packages - often occur in more remote locations, providing important direct and indirect employment opportunities in these communities.

Regional estimates of angler expenditures attributable to groundfish activity illustrate differences between regions (Figure 3). Total expenditures (direct and major purchases) on groundfish represented about 25% of total recreational expenditures (all species).

Figure 3. 2015 Angler Direct Expenditures and Major Purchase Expenditures for Groundfish (all groundfish) by Region (millions of 2019 dollars). Source: DFO internal analysis of National Survey of Recreational Fishing (2015). Note: HG = Haida Gwaii; NC = North Coast; CC = Central Coast; JS = Johnstone Strait; GS = Georgia Strait; BS = Barkley Sound; WCVI = West Coast Vancouver Island.
Figure 3. 2015 Angler Direct Expenditures and Major Purchase Expenditures for Groundfish (all groundfish) by Region (millions of 2019 dollars). Source: DFO internal analysis of National Survey of Recreational Fishing (2015).Footnote 5 Note: HG = Haida Gwaii; NC = North Coast; CC = Central Coast; JS = Johnstone Strait; GS = Georgia Strait; BS = Barkley Sound; WCVI = West Coast Vancouver Island.

4.3. Commercial fishery

4.3.1. Participation

The number of active vessels, and thus presumably crew, involved in the harvest of groundfish has changed between 2010 and 2020. The number of active vessels has fluctuated slightly over the past decade, but ultimately has resulted in a steady decline from 356 vessels to 312 (Figure 4) from 2010 to 2020.

Figure 4. Active Groundfish Vessels by Fishery 2010-2020. Source: DFO PacFish Database. Note: Some vessels fish multiple fisheries, thus may be represented more than once.
Figure 4. Active Groundfish Vessels by Fishery 2010-2020. Source: DFO PacFish Database. Note: Some vessels fish multiple fisheries, thus may be represented more than once.

Indigenous participation in commercial groundfish fisheries may occur through communal commercial licences, or as organization (e.g. Commercial Fishing Enterprises) or individual ownership of licences and vessels. Information on individual ownership is not available. Communal commercial licences (F) identify communal Indigenous participation within commercial groundfish fisheries and allow Indigenous communities to designate vessels and individual fishers to carry out the fishing. The ATP and PICFI programs have been used by DFO to acquire commercial groundfish licence eligibilities (K - Sablefish, L - Halibut, ZN - Rockfish, T - Trawl). The ATP and PICFI programs have also acquired and distributed more than 15.8% of the total Halibut quota, and more than 16.8 % of the Sablefish quota as well as small amounts of quota for most trawl species. In 2021, PICFI allocated groundfish licences and quota in agreements with 21 Commercial Fishing Enterprises.

4.3.2. Economic contribution

In 2020, the groundfish fisheries were the largest component of the fish harvesting sector and were responsible for approximately 79% of all BC wild seafood landings and about 34% of their total value. In terms of the processing labour intensity, in 2016 the groundfish fisheries provided about 49% of all direct processing employment hours.Footnote 6

Figure 5. Groundfish Total Landed Value by Fishery 2010-2020 (in 2020 $). Source: landed volume and value calculated from Dockside Monitoring Program landings, Groundfish Fishery Observations System and sales slip prices.
Figure 5. Groundfish Total Landed Value by Fishery 2010-2020 (in 2020 $). Source: landed volume and value calculated from Dockside Monitoring Program landings, Groundfish Fishery Observations System and sales slip prices.

The real landed value of the groundfish fisheries was relatively stable between 2010 and 2013, and then increased by approximately 55% between 2014 and 2017. This increase was largely the result of an increase in prices in 2015 followed by an increase in total landings (in weight) in subsequent years. The landed value of the groundfish peaked in 2017 at $193.4 million and has since steadily declined to $115.5 million in 2020. (Figure 4 and Figure 5).

Figure 6. Groundfish Total Landed Volume by Fishery 2010-2020. Source: The landed volume and value is calculated from the Dockside Monitoring Program landings, Groundfish Fishery Observations System and sales slip prices.
Figure 6. Groundfish Total Landed Volume by Fishery 2010-2020. Source: The landed volume and value is calculated from the Dockside Monitoring Program landings, Groundfish Fishery Observations System and sales slip prices.

The real wholesale value of the fisheries fell by approximately 19% between 2009-2014. Since then, the fisheries have generally seen a decrease in wholesale value from $334.0M in 2016 to around $280.4M in 2019.

The value of British Columbia’s groundfish export onto the international market has steadily increased over the years from $135.6 million in 2010 to $187.1 million in 2020. The increase in value was mainly due to an increase of the total quantity of groundfish being exported over the years, from 40.5 million KG to 69.2 million KG between 2010 and 2020. However, export prices also played a role, particularly Cod and Halibut prices, which increased from 2010 to 2016.

Figure 7. Total Groundfish Exports Quantity and Value by Species and Year, 2010-2020 (in 2020$). Source: Statistics Canada. EXIM. Accessed October, 2021. Note: Other Groundfish species include Dogfish, Lingcod, Pollock and others.
Figure 7. Total Groundfish Exports Quantity and Value by Species and Year, 2010-2020 (in 2020$). Source: Statistics Canada. EXIM. Accessed October, 2021. Note: Other Groundfish species include Dogfish, Lingcod, Pollock and others.

4.3.3. Social and cultural significance

There is a lack of information on communities of residence for groundfish vessel masters and crew. Consequently, it is not possible to comment of the social significance of the groundfish harvesting sector to BC communities. In the case of processing employment, past work has suggested a strong correlation between the off-loading location of groundfish and processing employments. There are smaller centres for which commercial fishing and fish processing are integral elements of the local economy. In some locations, groundfish represents a significant component of processing employment. Footnote 7

There is a long history of commercial groundfish fishing in British Columbia. This history has been documented by several authors, although the link between current culture and the historical significance is less documented.Footnote 8 The commercial Halibut fishery harvested Halibut back to the 1880s, but the harvest was largely marketed in Seattle until the arrival of the railroad. Footnote 9 From small shipments east in 1888, the fishery grew until it accounted for over 80% of Canadian Halibut landings by the 1940s. Prince Rupert, labelled the “Halibut Capital of the World”, originally shipped via steamships but switched to rail in 1913, with dozens of rail cars of iced Halibut shipped each month.

5. Shared stewardship arrangements

5.1. Commercial industry

Several Collaborative Agreements (CA) currently exist between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and Wild Canadian Sablefish Ltd., the Canadian Groundfish Research and Conservation Society, and the Pacific Halibut Management Association. CAs are also being considered for 2022/23 between Fisheries and Oceans Canada and several partners to support groundfish science activities through the allocation of fish to finance the activities, consistent with the authority granted to the Minister in Fisheries Act.

5.2. Fisheries and Oceans Canada

The groundfish fisheries in British Columbia are managed through the Groundfish Management Unit. This includes seven Fisheries Management personnel directly involved in the management of this fishery. In addition, a groundfish stock assessment unit, located at the Pacific Biological Station contributes to annual stock assessments for groundfish species. Contributions to the IFMP are provided by Fisheries Management, the Science Branch, Conservation and Protection, Ecosystem Management Branch, the Pacific Fishery Licence Unit, the Treaty and Aboriginal Policy Directorate, and numerous others.

6. Governance process

The Groundfish IFMP is updated in February of every year. First Nations FSC fisheries may occur year-round. Season dates for commercial and recreational fisheries vary, and can be found in the commercial harvest plan appendices to the IFMP and the recreational Tidal Waters Sport Fishing Guide.

Along with existing economic and shared stewardship policies, the Framework will help DFO meet objectives for long-term sustainability, economic prosperity, and improved governance. Further information can be found at the DFO website.

Several advisory committees and subcommittees have been established to provide advice to the Department on management of groundfish fisheries. Terms of reference, membership and meeting minutes for the Halibut Advisory Board (HAB), Groundfish Trawl Advisory Committee (GTAC), Sablefish Advisory Committee (SAC), Groundfish Hook and Line Subcommittee (GHLSC), the Commercial Industry Caucus (CIC), and the Groundfish Integrated Advisory Board (GIAB) can be found on the Internet.

DFO engages in a variety of consultation, engagement and collaborative harvest planning processes with First Nations which advise DFO on groundfish management. These exchanges and involvement may include bilateral consultations, advisory processes, management boards, technical groups and other roundtable forums. Consulting is an important part of good governance, sound policy development and decision-making. It is also a component of modern treaties established between First Nations and the provincial and federal governments. In addition to good governance objectives, Canada has statutory, contractual and common law obligations to consult with Indigenous groups.

The Sport Fishing Advisory Board (SFAB) provides advice to the Department on matters relating to the recreational fishery. More information on this advisory board can be found on the Internet.

7. Access and allocations

The Minister can, for reasons of conservation or for any other any other valid reasons, modify access, allocations and sharing arrangements outlined in the IFMP in accordance with the powers granted pursuant to the Fisheries Act.

7.1. FSC fisheries

DFO is committed to the recognition and implementation of Indigenous and treaty rights related to fisheries, oceans, aquatic habitat, and marine waterways in a manner consistent with section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and the federal Principles Respecting the Government of Canada’s Relationship with Indigenous Peoples. DFO-CCG Reconciliation Strategy provides a guidance document to better understand why and how reconciliation informs the work of the Department. DFO’s reconciliation strategy is available.

Fish and marine resources are central to the culture, society, and well-being of First Nations and provide a critical connection to language, traditional knowledge, and health of communities. DFO remains committed to respecting First Nations’ Aboriginal right to fish for Food, Social and Ceremonial (FSC) purposes, or domestic purposes under Treaty which has priority – after conservation – over other users of the resource.

The Aboriginal Fisheries Strategy (AFS) (described further in section 4.1.1.) continues to be one of the principal mechanisms – in addition to Treaties and reconciliation agreements - to support access to Food, Social and Ceremonial fisheries, the development of relationships with First Nations including the consultation, planning and implementation of fisheries, and the development of capacity to undertake fisheries management, stock assessment, enhancement and habitat protection programs.

7.1.1 Canada and First Nation long-term agreements:

7.1.1.1 Treaties and reconciliation agreements

There are four modern treaties in British Columbia with fisheries chapters - Nisga’a, Tsawwassen, Maa-nulth, and Tla’amin First Nations, along with historic treaties in British Columbia (Douglas Treaties and Treaty 8). Fisheries chapters in modern treaties may articulate a treaty fishing right for domestic purposes that are protected under Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Negotiated through a side agreement, some modern treaty First Nations have been provided commercial access through a Harvest Agreement outside of the constitutionally protected treaty.

First Nations along BC’s coast harvest groundfish for FSC purposes under the Aboriginal Communal Fishing Licences Regulations or Treaty Harvest Agreements. In both cases, allocations are specified, and the fisheries are licensed and conducted under the authority of the Minister.

Under each treaty, Fisheries Operation Guidelines (FOGs) set out the operational principles, procedures and guidelines needed to assist Canada, the province of British Columbia, and the First Nations in implementing Fisheries Chapters of their respective treaties and managing Treaty fisheries on an annual basis. The FOGs provide guidance on how management decisions with respect to treaty fisheries will be made via the Joint Fisheries Committee (JFC), how abundance is estimated, biological and harvesting considerations, catch monitoring and reporting requirements, etc. Each year the JFC established under each treaty makes recommendations to the Minister on the issuance of specific ‘Harvest Documents’ to licence the fishery for Domestic harvests (for food, social or ceremonial purposes). Domestic fisheries will be exercised within geographic areas defined in each treaty.

More information on Treaties is available.

7.1.1.2 Maa-nulth fisheries

The Maa-nulth First Nations comprise five individual First Nations; Huu-ay-aht First Nations, Ka:'yu:'k't'h'/Che:k'tles7et'h' First Nations, Toquaht Nation, Uchucklesaht Tribe and the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ First Nation on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

The domestic allocations for groundfish under the Maa-nulth First Nations Final Agreement are as follows:

  1. Halibut: The Maa-nulth Fish Allocation for Halibut is 26,000 pounds (net weight, dressed, head off) plus 0.39% of the Halibut Canadian Total Allowable Catch (net weight, dressed, head off).
  2. Rockfish: The Maa-nulth Fish Allocation of Rockfish is 11,250 pounds of whole fish, plus 2.46% of the Commercial Rockfish Outside Total Allowable Catch.
  3. Groundfish: The Maa-nulth Fish Allocation of Groundfish is 13,000 pounds of whole fish.
  4. Sablefish: The Maa-nulth Fish Allocation for Sablefish is 0.082% of the Sablefish Canadian Total Allowable Catch.

Other groundfish species are currently unallocated species under the terms of the treaty. Unallocated species may be harvested under a Maa-nulth First Nation Fishing Right in accordance with a Harvest Document.

In addition to the allocation of fish for domestic purposes, Maa-nulth has an allocation for commercial catch outside of the Treaty as identified in the “Maa-nulth First Nation Harvest Agreement”. The allocations in the Harvest Agreement do not affirm Indigenous or Treaty rights. Fishing under the Harvest Agreement will be comparable to the requirements of the current commercial fishery.

Commercial groundfish allocations are expressed as limits (i.e., “up to” amounts) under the Harvest Agreement:

  1. Halibut: up to 2% of the coastwide commercial Halibut TAC.
  2. Rockfish: up to 2.6178% of the commercial ZN-Outside rockfish TACs.
  3. Sablefish: up to 0.34% of the coastwide commercial sablefish TAC.

7.1.2 Tla'amin domestic fisheries

The domestic allocations for groundfish under the Tla’amin Nation Final Agreement are as follows:

  1. In any year, the Tla’amin Fish Allocation for the aggregate of rockfish and lingcod is a maximum of 5,000 lbs.
  2. In any year, the Tla’amin Fish Allocation for all groundfish other than rockfish and lingcod is a maximum of 1,000 lbs.

7.1.1.4. Tsawwassen and Nisga’a fisheries

Groundfish are currently unallocated species under the terms of the Tsawwassen and Nisga’a treaties. As authorised by their treaties, they may harvest groundfish for domestic purposes, subject to conservation, public health, or public safety, in their respective fishing areas under the terms of annual fishing plans signed off by the treaty nations and Canada.

7.1.1.5. Five Nations multi-species fishery management plan

Five Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations located on the west coast of Vancouver Island - Ahousaht, Ehattesaht, Hesquiaht, Mowachaht/Muchalaht, and Tla-o-qui-aht (the Five Nations) – have aboriginal rights to fish for any species, with the exception of Geoduck, within their Fishing Territories and to sell that fish. The Department has developed a 2021/22 Five Nations Multi-species Fishery Management Plan (FMP). The FMP includes specific details about the fishery, such as allocation/access, licensing and designations, fishing area, harvesting opportunities, and fishery monitoring and catch reporting. Feedback provided by the Five Nations during consultations was considered and incorporated into the 2021/22 FMP by DFO where possible.

The implementation of the Five Nations’ right-based sale fishery continues to be an ongoing process. The 2021/22 FMP was developed to implement the right-based multi-species fishery to accommodate the Five Nations’ Aboriginal rights consistent with the British Columbia Supreme Court’s 2018 decision. On April 19, 2021, the British Columbia Court of Appeal released its decision in relation to the appeal brought forward by the Five Nations. As a result, the department has announced a number of in-season changes via fishery notice and has revised the 2021/22 FMP to reflect changes that have been made thus far. Further changes will be announced by fishery notice and/or in the 2022/23 FMP which will be available in the spring of 2022. For further information, see the revised 2021/22 FMP.

7.1.1.6. Reconciliation agreements

In addition to negotiating treaties, the Government of Canada and Indigenous Peoples can also negotiate reconciliation agreements, to explore new ways of working together to advance the recognition of Indigenous rights and self-determination. These agreements are typically Recognition of Indigenous Rights and Self-Determination (RIRSD) and are led by Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada (CIRNAC). However, DFO can also negotiate Fisheries Resources Reconciliation Agreements directly with First Nations to advance reconciliation with First Nations.

As DFO and First Nations develop and implement new fisheries and collaborative governance arrangements, DFO works with these Nations to engage neighbouring First Nations and stakeholders (e.g. commercial and recreational sectors).

Since 2019, the Government of Canada has entered into several reconciliation agreements with First Nations that lay the foundation for incremental development and implementation of new arrangements for fisheries and collaborative fisheries governance.

These include the Coastal First Nations Fisheries Resource Reconciliation Agreement between Canada, the Haida Nation, Heiltsuk Nation, Kitasoo/Xai’xais First Nation, Metlakatla First Nation, Nuxalk Nation, Wuikinuxv Nation, Gitga’at First Nation, and Gitxaala Nation, and the Haíɫcístut Incremental House Post Agreement between the Heiltsuk Nation and Canada.

In 2021, the Government of Canada also signed framework agreements with the A-Tlegay Member Nations (We Wai Kai Nation, Wei Wai Kum First Nation, Kwiakah First Nation, Tlowitsis Nation, and K'ómoks First Nation) (Reconciliation Framework Agreement for Fisheries Resources) and the Haida Nation (GayG̱ahlda ‘Changing Tide’ framework).

Information on Indigenous fisheries and reconciliation is available.

7.2. Recreational

Daily and possession limits are in place for recreational catch of groundfish species. Annual limits and size limits are also in place for several groundfish species such as Lingcod and Halibut. The Department consults annually with the Sport Fishing Advisory Board in order to establish daily and possession limits, as well as maximum lengths for Halibut, dependent on the Halibut Recreational Allocation, as described below.

There are several instances where total recreational catch is managed to specified amounts. Recreational fishing for Halibut is managed to an annual coastwide allocation. As a result of the Rockfish Conservation Strategy drafted in 2001, recreational catch of rockfish and Lingcod in the Strait of Georgia is also managed to stay within specified amounts, referred to as “management caps”.

7.2.1. Halibut recreational allocation

In February 2012 the Minister announced a change to the Halibut Allocation Policy. The 2003 policy, which provided 12% of the commercial-recreational Total Allowable Catch (TAC) to the recreational sector and 88% to the commercial sector, has been changed to allocate 15% of the commercial-recreational TAC to the recreational sector and 85% to the commercial sector. Please see Appendix 6 for the 2022 recreational Halibut allocation.

Since 2011, an optional experimental program has also been in place which allows interested recreational harvesters to temporarily transfer commercial halibut quota onto an experimental licence for the purposes of recreational fishing. This pilot program allows those who choose to participate the opportunity to fish for Halibut beyond the daily, possession, size, and annual limits or beyond the season closure date for the regular recreational Halibut fishery. In February 2012, the Minister announced that the Department would move forward with regulatory changes to continue this transfer mechanism for the long term.

More information regarding the Experimental Recreational Halibut Program is available.

7.2.2. Strait of Georgia Rockfish and Lingcod Management Caps

In response to conservation concerns for inshore rockfish and Lingcod in the Strait of Georgia the Department implemented annual recreational fishery management caps intended to meet rebuilding objectives while providing opportunities to recreational anglers to retain rockfish and Lingcod. In 2002, an annual management cap of 20,000 pieces of rockfish was implemented in Areas 13 to 19, sub-Areas 12-1 to 12-13, 12-15 to 12-48, 20-5 to 20-7, and 29-5. In 2006, a lingcod management cap of 5,000 pieces was implemented and in 2009 it was increased to 7,000 pieces for the same areas. Areas 28 and the rest of Area 29 were closed to the retention of rockfish and Lingcod.

In order to keep the recreational fishery within these caps other management measures were introduced. By 2010, the management measures included daily and possession limits of 1 and 2 respectively for both Lingcod and rockfish, open times between May 1 and September 30, and an annual limit of 10 Lingcod. These management measures remain in effect, and the Department monitors catch against these caps on an annual basis by reviewing catch data gathered through fishery monitoring and catch reporting programs. For further information please read Towards an Inshore Rockfish Conservation Plan and the Management Framework for Strait of Georgia Lingcod.

7.3. Aquaculture

Fisheries and Oceans Canada supports the research and development of aquaculture sectors. The Department will provide the aquaculture industry with reasonable access, by scientific or access licenses, to the wild groundfish resource to assist in industry sustainability.

Requests for access to the wild resource will be reviewed based on the provision of detailed project proposals including specified criteria by the proponent (see details below). Decisions will be provided in writing to the applicant. DFO may require observers on vessels conducting collection trips and dockside monitoring of all fish harvested for aquaculture purposes at the vessel’s own expense.

Applications for broodstock capture should include:

  1. Proposed time and location(s) where the brood will be captured.
  2. Name, vessel registration number (VRN) and licence number of the vessel to be used.
  3. Description and location of the facility where the fish are to be held (including aquaculture permit number if a culture facility).
  4. Section 56 Introductions and Transfers permit application number.
  5. Detailed project description.
  6. Detailed reporting framework.

More informaton is available.

Currently 0.1% of the Sablefish TAC is allocated to the aquaculture industry to support broodstock collection for sablefish aquaculture.

7.4. Research

Allocations are made each year for research to account for the mortalities associated with survey catches within TACs. This includes the outside waters hard bottom hook and line survey, the International Pacific Halibut Commission longline standardized stock assessment survey, the trawl multi-species surveys, and the Sablefish trap survey. In some cases, allocations may also be made in excess of forecasted survey catches to support the costs of completing select science projects. These allocations are made based on the Minister’s authority to allocate fish or fishing gear for the purpose of financing scientific and fisheries management activities that are described in a joint project agreement entered into with any person or body, or any federal or provincial minister, department, or agency. In general, research allocations are deducted from the fish available to the commercial fishery, by sector, prior to the definition of commercial TACs used for the purposes of defining allocations on licences. Further details on the allocations of fish for financing scientific and management activities are identified in the relevant harvest plans appended to this plan.

Species Trawl surveys (tonnes) Longline surveys (tonnes) Sablefish surveys, tagging, catch sampling (tonnes) Total (tonnes)
Arrowtooth flounder 15.5 0.0 0.0 15.5
Big skate 0.3 0.0 0.0 0.3
Boccaccio rockfish 2.8 0.0 0.0 2.8
Canary rockfish 7.5 6.5 0.0 14.0
Copper, China, Tiger rockfish 0.0 2.8 0.0 2.8
Dover sole 6.4 0.0 0.0 6.4
English sole 2.7 0.0 0.0 2.7
Lingcod 2.2 3.8 0.0 6.0
Longnose skate 1.3 0.0 0.0 1.3
Longspine thornyhead 0.4 0.0 0.0 0.4
Pacific cod 1.9 1.2 0.0 3.1
Pacific hake 4.8 0.0 0.0 4.8
Pacific halibut * 1.4 27.2 0.0 28.6
Pacific ocean perch 116.3 0.0 0.0 116.3
Petrale sole 1.8 0.0 0.0 1.8
Quillback rockfish 0.0 5.8 0.0 5.8
Redbanded rockfish 1.7 11.6 0.0 13.3
Redstripe rockfish 14.6 0.0 0.0 14.6
Rock sole 0.5 0.0 0.0 0.5
Rougheye rockfish/Blackspotted Rockfish 13.6 22.6 0.0 36.2
Sablefish 14.3 1.0 100.0 115.3
Shortraker rockfish 0.7 5.4 0.0 6.1
Shortspine thornyhead 6.9 0.9 0.0 7.8
Silvergray rockfish 12.9 12.7 0.0 25.6
Spiny dogfish 9.0 0.0 0.0 9.0
Walleye pollack 0.9 0.0 0.0 0.9
Widow rockfish 0.8 0.0 0.0 0.8
Yelloweye rockfish 0.1 16.4 0.0 16.5
Yellowmouth rockfish 7.2 3.0 0.0 10.2
Yellowtail rockfish 5.7 2.0 0.0 7.7

*The Pacific Halibut amount for the groundfish trawl survey is part of the trawl fishery’s Halibut bycatch mortality cap. The groundfish trawl fishery has a bycatch mortality cap of 454 tonnes that is not part of the allocated commercial TAC.

7.5. Commercial

The commercial TAC for various groundfish species are allocated between the different groundfish sectors. Formal discussions between the Hook and Line rockfish (category ZN licence), Halibut (category L licence) and Trawl (category T licence) sectors were initiated in 2000 to establish individual rockfish species allocations between the sectors to modify the 1997 adopted “92/8” Trawl/Hook and Line allocation. The agreed to allocation of groundfish species between the commercial sectors are as follows:

7.5.1 Rockfish species

Commercial sector Commercial sector Commercial sector
Species T ZN L
Canary 87.70% 11.77% 0.53%
Longspine thornyhead 95.35% 2.29% 2.36%
Pacific ocean perch 99.98% 0.02% 0.00%
Quillback 2.56% 87.97% 9.47%
Copper, China, Tiger 2.56% 87.97% 9.47%
Redbanded 50.00% 37.50% 12.5%
Redstripe 97.23% 2.77% 0.00%
Rougheye 55.80% 41.17% 3.03%
Shortspine thornyhead 95.40% 2.27% 2.33%
Shortraker 52.30% 43.92% 3.78%
Silvergray 88.43% 10.97% 0.60%
Widow 98.21% 1.79% 0.00%
Yelloweye 2.54% 64.34% 33.12%
Yellowmouth 96.77% 2.49% 0.74%
Yellowtail 98.91% 1.09% 0.00%

7.5.2 Non-quota rockfish species

Commercial sector Commercial sector
Non-quota Species Trawl ZN
Aurora rockfish 90.00% 10.00%
Black rockfish 14.00% 86.00%
Blue rockfish 5.00% 95.00%
Brown rockfish 5.00% 95.00%
Chillipepper rockfish 65.00% 35.00%
Darkblotch rockfish 99.00% 1.00%
Dusky rockfish 50.00% 50.00%
Greenstripe rockfish 96.00% 4.00%
Harlequin rockfish 99.00% 1.00%
Bocaccio rockfish 93.00% 7.00%
Rosethorn rockfish 65.00% 35.00%
Sharpchin rockfish 99.00% 1.00%
Shortbelly rockfish 0.00% 100.00%
Splitnose rockfish 99.00% 1.00%
Vermillion rockfish 1.00% 99.00%

7.5.3 Other groundfish

Commercial Sector Commercial Sector
Species * T L + K + ZN + Sch II
Lingcod 74.00% 26.00%
Dogfish 32.00% 68.00%
Hake, pollock, Pacific cod and sole 100.00% 0.00%
Sablefish 8.75% 91.25%

*Halibut is not permitted for retention by trawl gear so there is no percentage of an allocation assigned to trawl.

Commercial sector Longnose Skate Big Skate
Area Area
3CD 5AB 5CDE 3CD 5AB 5CDE
T (groundfish trawl) 62.83% 32.83% 20.28% 24.55% 91.48% 92.07%
L (halibut) 14.19% 48.49% 59.80% 26.72% 5.97% 6.34%
LC (lingcod) 0.00% 0.01% 0.00% 0.00% 0.01% 0.00%
ZN (rockfish inside) 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00% 0.00%
ZN (rockfish outside) 1.50% 8.61% 8.53% 1.93% 1.20% 0.56%
K (sablefish) 11.26% 9.47% 10.55% 4.16% 0.72% 0.95%
DF (spiny dogfish) 10.22% 0.57% 0.84% 42.63% 0.62% 0.08%

7.5.4 Commercial total allowable catches

As a result of rounding, the TAC allocations by management area do not sum to the sector totals for some species. For the exact TAC values, please contact a member of the Groundfish Management Unit. Portions of some of the TACs listed here will be allocated for research purposes. Portions of the ZN Outside TAC exclude amounts allocated for research purposes. Details of research allocations are found in the harvest plans included as appendices to the full IFMP document.

Species Area Halibut (tonnes) Sablefish (tonnes) ZN outside (tonnes) ZN inside (tonnes) Trawl (tonnes) Dogfish (tonnes) Lingcod (tonnes)
Yellowtail rockfish 3C 0 0 14* 0 1,224 0 0
3D, 5A/B, 5C/D/E 0 0 47* 0 4,216 0 0
Sector total 0 0 60* 0 5,440 0 0
Widow rockfish Coastwide 0 0 46* 0 2,500 0 0
Canary rockfish 3C, 3D 1 0 30 0 615 0 0
5A, 5B 2 0 51 0 241 0 0
5C, 5D 1 0 24 0 97 0 0
5E 1 0 25 0 12 0 0
Sector total 6 0 129 0 965 0 0
Silvergray rockfish 3 C/D 2 0 41 0 332 0 0
5 A/B 4 0 80 0 646 0 0
5 C/D 4 0 73 0 587 0 0
5E 3 0 47 0 382 0 0
Sector total 13 0 241 0 1,945 0 0
Pacific ocean perch 3 C/D 0 0 0 0 750 0 0
5 A/B 0 0 0 0 1,687 0 0
5C 0 0 0 0 1,555 0 0
5 D/E 0 0 0 0 1,200 0 0
Sector total 0 0 1 0 5,192 0 0
Yellowmouth rockfish 3C 1 0 4 0 224 0 0
3D, 5A/B 6 0 20 0 1,160 0 0
5 C/D 4 0 13 0 702 0 0
5E 7 0 24 0 333 0 0
Sector total 19 0 62 0 2,419 0 0
Rougheye/Black spotted rockfish 3CD5AB 9 0 117 0 167 0 0
5CDE 24 0 313 0 446 0 0
Sector total 33 0 430 0 614 0 0
Shortraker rockfish Coastwide 9 0 102 0 126 0 0
Redstripe rockfish 3C/D 5A/B/C 0 0 31* 0 1,150 0 0
5D/E 0 0 12* 0 400 0 0
Sector total 0 0 43* 0 1,550 0 0
Shortspine thornyheads Coastwide 17 0 17 0 736 0 0
Longspine thornyheads Coastwide 10 0 10 0 405 0 0
Redbanded rockfish Coastwide 74 0 210 0 295 0 0
Yelloweye rockfish 3C, 3D, 5A 7 0 35 0 1 0 0
5B 10 0 11 0 1 0 0
5C, 5D 10 0 18 0 1 0 0
5E 14 0 17 0 1 0 0
4B 1 0 0 6 0 0 0
Sector total 42 0 81 6 3 0 0
Quillback rockfish 3C, 3D, 5A 3 0 43 0 0 0 0
5B 3 0 28 0 0 0 0
5C, 5D 6 0 32 0 0 0 0
5E 4 0 6 0 0 0 0
4B 0 0 0 22 0 0 0
Sector total 16 0 109 22 4 0 0
Copper, China and Tiger rockfish 3C, 3D, 5A 1 0 24 0 0 0 0
5B 1 0 7 0 0 0 0
5C, 5D 4 0 19 0 0 0 0
5E 0.3 0 1 0 1 0 0
4B 0 0 0 3 0 0 0
Sector total 6.3 0 51 3 1 0 0
Bocaccio rockfish Coastwide 0 0 0 0 1486 0 0
Pacific cod 3 C/D 0 0 0 0 300 0 0
5 A/B 0 0 0 0 250 0 0
5 C/D/E 0 0 0 0 700 0 0
Sector total 0 0 0 0 1,250 0 0
Dover sole 3 C/D 0 0 0 0 1,375 0 0
5 C/D/E 0 0 0 0 1,100 0 0
5 A/B 0 0 0 0 598 0 0
Sector total 0 0 0 0 3,073 0 0
Rock sole 3 C/D 0 0 0 0 102 0 0
5 A/B 0 0 0 0 650 0 0
5 C/D 0 0 0 0 800 0 0
Sector total 0 0 0 0 1,552 0 0
Lemon sole 3 C/D, 5A/B 0 0 0 0 186 0 0
5 C/D/E 0 0 0 0 636 0 0
Sector total 0 0 0 0 822 0 0
Petrale sole Coastwide 0 0 0 0 900 0 0
Lingcod 3C 0 0 0 0 800 0 150
3D 0 0 0 0 440 0 360
5A, 5B 0 0 0 0 862 0 200
5C, 5D, 5E 0 0 0 0 580 0 420
4B 0 0 0 0 0 0 38**
Coastwide total 0 0 0 0 2,572 0 1,168
Spiny Dogfish 3C, 3D, 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 5E 0 0 0 0 3,840 8,160 0
4B 0 0 0 0 640 1,360 0
Coastwide total 0 0 0 0 4,480 9,520 0
Sablefish Coastwide 0 2,246 0 0 215 0 0
Pollock Gulf 0 0 0 0 1,115 0 0
3C, 3D (including Area 20) 0 0 0 0 4,000 0 0
5 A/B (includes Area 12) 0 0 0 0 2,500 0 0
5 C/D/E 0 0 0 0 1,320 0 0
Coastwide total 0 0 0 0 4,935 0 0
Hake Gulf 0 0 0 0 7,000 0 0
Offshore*** 0 0 0 0 TBD 0 0
Halibut Coastwide 2,555 0 0 0 454**** 0 0
Big skate 3 C/D 13 2 1 0 12 21 0
5 A/B 22 3 4 0 341 2 0
5 C/D/E 39 6 3 0 561 1 0
Sector total 74 11 8 0 914 24 0
Longnose skate 3 C/D 20 16 2 0 88 14 0
5 A/B 47 9 8 0 32 1 0
5 C/D/E 51 9 7 0 18 1 0
Sector total 168 48 25 0 138 22 0
Arrowtooth flounder Coastwide 0 0 0 0 5,000 0 0

* This tonnage is not allocated to individual licence holders, nor is it transferable.

** The Lingcod coastwide total includes the 38 tonne allocation to cover 4B trip limits. This tonnage is not allocated to licence holders, nor is it transferable.

*** The groundfish trawl fishery has a bycatch mortality cap of 454 tonnes that is not part of the allocated commercial TAC. Halibut caught while fishing under the authority of a groundfish trawl licence cannot be retained and must be returned to the water as quickly as possible.

7.5.5 Commercial species-area groups

All groundfish Hook and Line licence holders are permitted to hold quota for up to 42 species-area groups of holdings. Landings of other groundfish will be managed through trip limits or landings allowances. Additional species areas groups are in place for the groundfish trawl fishery and can be found in Appendix 8 of the IFMP.

Pacific halibut (coastwide) Silvergray rockfish (5E)
Sablefish (coastwide) Yelloweye rockfish (3C, 3D, 5A)
Lingcod (3D) Yelloweye rockfish (5B)
Lingcod (3C) Yelloweye rockfish (5C, 5D)
Lingcod (5A, 5B) Yelloweye rockfish (5E)
Lingcod (5C, 5D, 5E) Yelloweye rockfish (4B)
Dogfish (3C, 3D, 5A, 5B, 5C, 5D, 5E) Quillback rockfish (3C, 3D, 5A)
Dogfish (4B) Quillback rockfish (5B)
Big skate (3C, 3D) Quillback rockfish (5C, 5D)
Big skate (5A, 5B) Quillback rockfish (5E)
Big skate (5C, 5D, 5E) Quillback rockfish (4B)
Longnose skate (3C, 3D) Copper, China and Tiger rockfish (3C, 3D, 5A)
Longnose skate (5A, 5B) Copper, China and Tiger rockfish (5B)
Longnose skate (5C, 5D, 5E) Copper, China and Tiger rockfish (5C, 5D)
Canary rockfish (3C, 3D) Copper, China and Tiger rockfish (5E)
Canary rockfish (5A, 5B) Copper, China and Tiger rockfish (4B)
Canary rockfish (5C, 5D) Rougheye / Blackspotted rockfish (3CD5AB)
Canary rockfish (5E) Rougheye / Blackspotted rockfish (5CDE)
Silvergray rockfish (3C, 3D) Redbanded rockfish (Coastwide)
Silvergray rockfish (5A, 5B) Shortraker rockfish (Coastwide)
Silvergray rockfish (5C, 5D) Shortspine thornyhead (Coastwide)

7.6. Outgoing and incoming sector caps

There are caps on the amount of quota species, in pounds, permitted to leave and enter commercial sectors from/to other commercial sectors. The figures can change regularly. For the most current figures, please consult the DFO website.

8. Resource management goal

To sustainably manage groundfish fisheries, and to work with harvesters, coastal and Indigenous communities to enable their continued prosperity from fish and seafood.

This goal and the Departmental Plan is intended to support DFO’s mandate commitments. The management priorities described below are keys areas of focus that will align our activities with these goals over the long term.

Priority Management measures
Implement a fisheries program that uses scientific evidence, the precautionary principle, and takes into account climate change when making decisions affecting fish stocks and ecosystem management.

Implementation of the peer-reviewed Management Procedure Framework for British Columbia groundfish species to generate status assessments in a more timely manner. See section 3.3.1 for additional information.

Continue to support Collaborative Agreements between DFO and partners to support groundfish science activities through the allocation of fish to finance the activities, consistent with the authority granted to the Minister in the Fisheries Act. See section 1.5 and the harvest plan appendices for additional information.

For the 2022/23 fishing season, where a Groundfish trawl Option A quota observed trip does not include an at sea observor, one hundred (100) per cent at-sea monitoring shall be achieved through an improved EM system. See Appendix 8 for additional information.

Continue to utilize established integrated fisheries planning and advisory processes described in Appendix 12, as well as the Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat process.

Consistent with regulation and policy under a renewed Fisheries Act, develop, implement, and monitor management measures to maintain major fish stocks at levels necessary to promote sustainable, stable, and prosperous fisheries.

Continue to develop and implement Precautionary Approach (PA) reference points and harvest control rules for priority fish stocks, as well as rebuilding plans for those stocks that are at or below their limit reference point. Specifically, Rebuilding Plans for Bocaccio and Yelloweye Rockfish have been developed and continue to be evaluated, as described in Appendix 9.

Continue measures first implemented in 2019 for the protection of the Southern Resident Killer Whales, which include measures that reduce the threats of fisheries related interactions and disturbance.

Continue development of a revised salmon bycatch monitoring program to better understand the potential impacts of bycatch in the groundfish trawl fishery on Pacific Salmon. Changes to catch monitoring and retention requirements are being developed in consultation with the fishery and implementation for the groundfish trawl fleet is targeted for 2022 or later. See Appendix 8.

Develop and pilot in the 2022-2023, increased discard mortality relates to improve accountability and responsibility for Sablefish discards, beginning with discard mortality rates of legal, marketable Sablefish. Changes are under consideration for inclusion in the final version of this IFMP. The Ad Hoc Working Group is expected to begin discussions regarding the discard mortality of sub-legal Sablefish throughout the 2022/23 fishing season. See Appendix 7.

Supporting implementation of marine spatial planning initiatives

The Government of Canada, the Province of BC and 18 First Nations are working together to develop a Network of marine protected areas for the Northern Shelf Bioregion which extends from the top of Vancouver Island (Quadra Island/Bute Inlet) and reaches north to the Canada - Alaska border. This bioregion has the same footprint as the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area.

The Government of Canada, the Province of BC, and Indigenous Groups and organizations are also in the pre-planning phase, gathering information and data relevant to a marine spatial planning process in southern BC, which includes the Strait of Georgia and Southern Shelf Bioregions.

These planning processes are being developed under the policy direction outlined in the National Framework for Canada’s Network of MPAs, the Canada-British Columbia MPA Network Strategy, and are informed by previously developed First Nation marine plans. See section 5.2.1.2 for additional information.

DFO is also currently undertaking a multi-year review of the conservation effectiveness of Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs). Specific measures are described in section 5.1.6.

9. Compliance plan

The Conservation and Protection (C&P) Directorate, part of the Fisheries and Harbour Management Sector, promotes and maintains compliance with legislation, regulations, policies and management measures to achieve the conservation and sustainable use of Canada’s aquatic resources and the protection of oceans, fish habitat and species at risk. C&P is comprised of three key programs areas:

C&P continues to evolve into an intelligence-led organization which will assist in priority setting by identifying the greatest threats and risks to fisheries and developing appropriate strategies to address those threats and risks. C&P utilizes education, and stewardship; monitoring and surveillance; and major case management to assist in the conservation and protection of the fishery resources.

Fishery Officers are stationed in the Pacific Region, which encompasses the province of British Columbia and Yukon Territory. They are designated under Section 5 of the Fisheries Act and have full enforcement powers and responsibilities outlined in the Fisheries Act, Coastal Fisheries Protection Act, Oceans Act, and Species at Risk Act. Fishery Officers are also designated, as peace officers under Section 2 the Criminal Code of Canada.

Third party At Sea and Dockside observers perform duties best described as “Observe, Record and Report.” Duties include the monitoring of fishing activities, collection of biological samples, recording of scientific data, monitoring of the landing of fish and verification by weight and species of the fish caught and retained. Observers, while performing a vital role, are not enforcement officers. Observers are designated by DFO’s Regional Director General and must carry proof of their designation in the form of a laminated card. Due to Covid no at-sea observers have been deployed to groundfish trawl vessels from April 2, 2020 to present. All Groundfish trawl vessels must have a fully functioning Electronic Monitoring (EM) System on board to meet the requirement of 100% at-sea monitoring.

DFO designated observers and the EM system reviewers fill out occurrence reports which are reviewed by C&P’s Groundfish Enforcement Coordinator and followed up on as necessary. All At Sea and Dockside observers have been designated as authorities by the Director of C&P under Section 63(1) of the Fisheries Act. It is an offense to make a false or misleading statement whether orally or in writing to an At Sea or Dockside observer.

Fishery officers conduct inspections both at-sea and dockside to verify compliance with licence conditions. Due to the complexity of the integrated groundfish management system, which includes a quota management system and a related licence amendment system, tracking of catch quantities is primarily performed administratively utilizing the fishing logbook, electronic monitoring video system, dockside monitoring program and the groundfish audit system.

9.1. Enforcement priorities

Report fisheries violations to:

DFO Observe, Report, Record
Phone:1-800-465-4336 (24/7 Line)
Email: DFO.ORR-ONS.MPO@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Please record:

the illegal activity is occurring. (Note: If you wish to remain anonymous, make this known to the radio operator).

DFO Groundfish Enforcement Coordinator
Ann Bussell
Phone:604-666-4162
Email: Ann.Bussell@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Crime stoppers
(anonymous way of reporting illegal activities). Information will be forwarded to the appropriate enforcement agency.
Phone:1-800-222-8477 (24/7 Line)
Email: http://www.bccrimestoppers.com/

10. Performance review and plan enhancement

The groundfish IFMP is a living document that will be subjected to review, with input from interested parties through consultations and established advisory processes. Annual updates (e.g., to total allowable catch changes based on updated science information) and in-season amendments to the harvest appendices will continue to be made as required and revised versions will be posted on the website, consistent with practices to date.

Contact us

For additional information on this IFMP Summary or to request an electronic version of the full IFMP, please contact the Groundfish shared inbox at:
Email: groundfishin@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Or visit this website for a list of Groundfish management contacts.

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