Gulf of St. Lawrence — West Coast Newfoundland
Fish harvesters use a bottom longline to catch Atlantic halibut. Baited hooks are attached to a line that is anchored to the ocean floor. With vessels limited to 65 feet (20 m) in length, this small-boat fishery takes place inshore. Fish harvesters catch several incidental species, including cod, white hake and flounder among others, when fishing for Atlantic halibut.
The longline consists of a long rope, spooled into a tub , which fish harvesters set from the stern of their vessels. Baited hooks are fastened to this main rope by shorter lines. The longline is set along the sea floor where bottom-dwelling fish live. It is marked on the ocean surface using a buoy and flagpole at each end. Fish harvesters set several longlines at a time and haul them regularly to land their catch. Once aboard, the hooks are baited again, if need be, and the longline is reset.
In Atlantic Canada, many different species are caught on bottom longlines. These include halibut, haddock, redfish, skate, cod, plaice and flounder. About 500 vessels are licensed to fish Atlantic halibut off the West Coast of Newfoundland.
When fishing for Atlantic halibu, longline fish havesters unintentionally catch undersized and unwanted species (bycatch) and non-targeted species which are typically released live back in the ocean. The Fish, Food and Allied Workers of Newfoundland and Department of Fisheries and Oceans co-manage this fishery using effort and output controls to limit the catch each season. A number of measures address conservation in this fishery, including:
Visit the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Newfoundland Region homepage for more info on the management of this fishery.
For the most recent stock status, check the Department of Fisheries and Ocean’s science advisory reports.
Atlantic halibut caught by longline are individually hauled aboard, cleaned, washed and stored on ice. On the Southwest Coast of Newfoundland, fish harvesters land their catch each day. Properly handled and chilled on ice, fresh Atlantic halibut has a shelf life of 18 days.