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Quebec Bulletin
February - March 2014/Volume 17/Number 1

Good Progress Towards Integrated Management of the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Fisheries and Oceans Canada has just published the Gulf of St. Lawrence Integrated Management Plan. This initiative proposes a framework for better integration of decisions regarding human activities that affect the ecosystem. This plan is the result of a major review conducted by federal government departments, provincial governments and Aboriginal organizations.

Human activities in marine areas can directly influence the state of the ecosystem. For example, these activities can cause physical changes in habitats or lead to the introduction of invasive species. They can also contaminate the species' environment or lead to their harm or removal. Some land activities can also have an impact by directly or indirectly contributing to the input of nutrients, contaminants and sediments. However, the socio-cultural and economic well-being of Gulf coast communities relies heavily on the health of this ecosystem.

Commercial vessel in the Gulf of St. Lawrence
Commercial vessel in the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Fisheries and Oceans Canada made considerable efforts to better understand the components of the Gulf ecosystem. The approach included identifying ecologically and biologically significant areas, ecologically significant species, and science-based conservation objectives for all areas.

The Gulf of St. Lawrence Integrated Management Plan proposes a management approach based on scientific data and risk. Interactions between human activities and ecosystem components were reviewed to determine and prioritize key issues. In all, eight key management issues were identified. These issues will provide a framework for determining ecosystem management priorities.

Map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Integrated Management Plan areas
Map of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Integrated Management Plan areas

Cooperation between federal and provincial government departments, Aboriginal organizations, industry and other stakeholders will be needed to develop and implement action plans that will resolve or facilitate resolution of the issues identified. Implementation of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Integrated Management Plan will therefore constantly be evolving.

The electronic version of the Gulf of St. Lawrence Integrated Management Plan is available on the regional website.

Did you know?
In 2004, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, including its upper and lower estuaries, was identified as one of the five large ocean management areas under Canada’s Oceans Action Plan. The electronic version of this plan is available on the national website.

Gilles H. Tremblay
Ecosystems Management

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