Canada approves 25 new exploratory lobster fishing licenses in Quebec

Fisheries and Oceans Canada said data collection is crucial to determine whether an increase in commercial fishing efforts is sustainable in the long term.
On announcing the new exploratory lobster fishing licenses, Canada's Government highlited the importance of exploring every new economic opportunity for the benefit of coastal communities.

On announcing the new exploratory lobster fishing licenses, Canada's Government highlited the importance of exploring every new economic opportunity for the benefit of coastal communities.

Photo: Adobe Stock.

Committed to assessing the feasibility of increasing the commercial lobster fishery in Quebec, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) has announced the implementation of a data collection plan for lobster fishing area 18 (LFA), on the province's North Shore. To this end, it has approved a total of 25 new exploratory fishing licenses for both First Nations and commercial license holders.

Despite the increase in the lobster population, more data is needed

In the context of climate change and the resulting ocean warming, the Government of Canada said it is more important than ever to be agile and explore every new economic opportunity for the benefit of coastal communities.

In the case of LFA 18 - which extends from Tadoussac to Natashquan, Quebec, and is divided into several sub-areas -, for a few years already, fishermen have noted a significant increase in the lobster population. However, despite this encouraging sign, the information available on the status of the population remains limited.

As a general rule, new fisheries involve a feasibility stage, an exploratory stage, and, finally, a commercial stage. The objective of the second one, the exploratory stage, is to determine whether a stock can sustain a commercially viable operation and to collect biological data.

Therefore, the data collection now proposed by Fisheries and Oceans Canada is crucial to better understand lobster populations and thus determine whether an increase in commercial fishing efforts for this resource in LFA 18 is sustainable in the long term.

Then, once a decision is made on license holders for a new fishery, license conditions are established for it, including fishing areas, gear restrictions, licensing period, and so on.

Creating economic opportunities for rural regions

Meanwhile, fishery management measures for exploratory license holders are similar to those already in place for existing commercial fishermen working in that same LFA. Like commercial license holders, those fishing under exploratory licenses are allowed to use 250 traps in a precise subarea of LFA 18 during an 11-week fishing season.

DFO has said that, depending on compliance with participation requirements, including data collection, and the results obtained, these exploratory licenses could be renewed next year. They could also be converted to commercial permits, subject to data confirming that the population is sustainable.

In addition, these new exploratory licenses also give fishermen the right to sell their catch to generate income for themselves and bring greater economic benefit to the local fishing industry and communities.

As the first lobster boats set sail in the coming days, the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, Diane Lebouthillier, wished everyone, from Tadoussac to Natashquan, a prosperous first fishing season.

"The North Shore is an integral part of Quebec's blue economy, and the government firmly believes in its development. With today's announcement, we are generating concrete economic opportunities for rural regions, as well as advancing reconciliation, all while acquiring more data to better understand the local lobster stocks," she said.

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