Gaspé lobster fishers have long taken measures to preserve lobster stocks and ensure that fishing remains a decent and stable long-term livelihood.
Conservation measures adopted
To increase egg production:
- Gradual increase in the minimum catch size from 6-7 mm;
- Mandatory release of females marked with a “V” notch;
- Imposition of a maximum catch size.
To reduce fishing effort:
- Rationalization of the fishing fleet by license buybacks;
- Reduction in the size of traps and the number of traps per permit;
- Reduction in the number of fishing days and ban on lifting the traps more than once a day;
- Reduction of the number of traps per line and the length of the lines;
- Mandatory installation of biodegradable escape vents.
To protect whales:
- Installation of weak links on vertical lines;
- Monitoring of whales in shallow waters.
Rationalization of the fleet
Too much exploitation of a resource in relation to its availability can compromise the sustainability of a fishery. That is why the number of lobster licenses has been reduced significantly over the past 25 years. Since the elimination of 50 licenses bought back by the RPPSG and 12 others bought by fishermen and governments, only 158 licenses are now exploited. This reduction in fishing effort has made it possible to have an abundant resource today, increased landings and fishermen earning an adequate income.
Good management of lobster stocks begins with a good stock assessment based on indicators of abundance, demography, fishing pressure and productivity. The RRPSG and its fishermen collaborate in the acquisition of fishing data, during the season and during a post-season survey, on the number of lobsters caught, their sex and size, their reproductive status and their spatial distribution. The data they provide to Fisheries and Oceans Canada helps to understand the resource well and to exploit it sustainably.