Canada increasing vessel length limit for the less than 40’ Inshore Sub-Fleets in Newfoundland and Labrador

News release

June 27, 2022

Ottawa, Canada - Canada’s East Coast inshore fisheries are the backbone of coastal communities, driving rural, local, regional and national economies. Fisheries and Oceans Canada is committed to supporting these harvesters who work hard to provide prosperity for their communities.

Today, Newfoundland and Labrador Member of Parliament, Ken McDonald, on behalf of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard, the Honourable Joyce Murray, announced that Fisheries and Oceans Canada will increase existing vessel length limits for Newfoundland and Labrador’s inshore fishing boats to provide more consistency in all Atlantic Canada regions. Specifically, the existing vessel length requirement for inshore sub-fleets, currently restricted to the less than 39’11” length in overall measurement, will increase to 49’11”.

This announcement will bring greater alignment to vessel length limits across Atlantic Canada, providing harvesters with additional flexibility when choosing a vessel. Specifically, it will allow harvesters to choose the vessel that best suits their activities, and will help mitigate potentially dangerous modifications.  These changes will come into effect for the 2023 fishing season.

In addition, Fisheries and Oceans Canada will launch engagements this fall with stakeholders, including licence holders, First Nations, industry associations and other government departments across Atlantic Canada and Quebec, to gather feedback on the Department’s inshore vessel policies, including  all registration rules currently in place across Atlantic Canada and Quebec . These engagements will begin after the fishing seasons end in each region. The Department will be contacting harvesters with further details on plans for these engagements. 


“This announcement to increase existing vessel length limits for Newfoundland and Labrador’s inshore sub fleets provides more predictability for Newfoundland and Labrador’s inshore fishers, who form the backbone of their local economies. Fisheries and Oceans Canada will continue to consult widely to eliminate unnecessary barriers. I want to thank MP Ken McDonald for his continued advocacy on behalf of fish harvesters.”

The Honourable Joyce Murray, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

“Today’s announcement brings more consistency to vessel limit regulations across Atlantic Canada. Allowing harvesters in Newfoundland and Labrador to fish using a vessel up to 49’11” will mean they are safer on our open ocean, giving them and their families peace of mind. I look forward to the consultation in the fall on the 30-day lease option. I know there are many happy fish harvesters in my province today.”

Ken McDonald, Member of Parliament for Avalon – Newfoundland and Labrador

Quick facts

  • Vessel policies are assessed against a variety of considerations, including: impacts to safety; conservation objectives; harvesting capacity; increasing consistency among fleets and regions; and key operational considerations such as impacts on small craft harbours.

  • DFO uses vessel length restrictions to establish different rules for various sectors and fleets. Fishing sectors in DFO’s Quebec (QC), Maritimes (MAR), Gulf (GLF) and Newfoundland and Labrador (NL) regions are divided into three general categories based on the size of the vessel: inshore (vessels less than 65 feet), mid-shore (vessels 65 feet and greater but less than 100 feet), and offshore (vessels of 100 feet or greater). 

  • The small boat fishing sector in Newfoundland and Labrador has been defined by a maximum length of 39’11” since 2007 when it increased from 34’11”.

  • Vessel registration rules require a licence holder to register an eligible vessel that will be used for a particular licence, or suite of licences. The Vessel Registration Policy is intended to reinforce the guiding principle of Owner-Operator, specifically that the individual who is issued the licence is the same individual on the boat fishing it. 

  • In the Maritimes and Quebec DFO Regions, once a vessel is registered with a licence, that registration must be in place for at least 30 days before a different vessel can be registered to that licence.

  • In the Newfoundland and Labrador Region, once a vessel is registered with a licence, that registration must be in place for twelve (12) months.

  • Transport Canada (TC) is responsible, under the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, for regulations and enforcement related to the safety of all vessels and marine personnel. TC’s priority is to help reduce deaths and injuries as well as loss or damage to commercial fishing vessels. Stability and lifesaving appliances are among the top safety issues in the fishing industry. TC is now advancing the second phase of changes to the new Fishing Vessel Safety Regulations which came into force in 2017. These new regulations include new requirements to reflect industry best practice and new technology which can further enhance safety on the water. Vessel registration with TC is a legislative requirement for vessel safety proposes.

  • DFO is responsible for safety at sea in areas of fisheries management regulations, policies, plans and processes, in accordance to the Fisheries Act and associated regulations. Fisheries resource management actively promotes and supports fishing safety awareness, education, and collaboration with our partners in the many areas that contribute to fishing safety. Vessel registration with DFO is a legislative requirement for fishing authorization.

Associated links


Claire Teichman
Press Secretary 
Office of the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard

Media Relations
Fisheries and Oceans Canada

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