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Quebec Bulletin
December 2016-January 2017/Volume 19/Number 6

Scientists from the MLI Give an Overview of the State of the Ocean for the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence

View of a krill
DFO  J.-F. St-Pierre

Five scientists from the Maurice Lamontagne Institute (MLI) gave an overview of the state of the Ocean for the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence at the fifth edition of Rendez-vous Saint-Laurent, held in Québec this October.

Organized every three years under the auspices of the St. Lawrence Action Plan (SLAP) 2011–2026, this event brought together experts and spokespersons from communities, non-governmental organizations, industry, academia, municipalities and government. The most recent updates to environmental indicators obtained from monitoring programs of the St. Lawrence were presented and suggestions for improving the program were explored.

Portrait of the state of the Ocean for the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence

Véronique Lesage, a researcher on marine mammals, gave an overview of the evolving state of the St. Lawrence beluga whale, unfortunately demonstrating that the situation of this species has been deteriorating. The population has been in decline since 2000 and the mortality rate for young belugas increased sharply during the same period.

Peter Galbraith, a researcher in physical oceanography, presented recent trends in the physical conditions of the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, noting in particular that the deep waters of the Estuary are currently the warmest and least oxygenated they have been since the 1930s.

Michel Starr, a researcher in biological oceanography, summarized recent trends in chemical and biological oceanographic conditions (phytoplankton, zooplankton, toxic algae and acidification) in the Estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He reported on changes resulting from environmental conditions, including currently observed acidity in the deep waters of the St. Lawrence Estuary at the highest level since the 1930s.

Nathalie Simard, a biologist of aquatic invasive species, described the situation of these species in the marine environment, showing in particular an increase in the rate of invasion since the monitoring began in 2003 in the Magdalen Islands and on the North Shore.

Finally, Yvan Lambert, Director, Demersal and Benthic Science Branch, gave a presentation on the development of new ecosystem indicators for the St. Lawrence marine sector. The presentation gave some perspective for the great potential of the data obtained from the Department's annual fish and invertebrate sampling campaigns (on the CCGS Needler and CCGS Teleost) for monitoring the status of the marine ecosystem.

A researcher's presentation in an auditorium
© Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.
Nearly 200 people attended the conferences given at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute during the marine-only version of Rendez-vous Saint-Laurent.

Great success for the presentation at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute

Back at the MLI, the scientists had the opportunity to once more present their results in a marine-only version of Rendez-vous Saint-Laurent organized at the Institute. In a crowded auditorium, a large audience consisting of representatives from the First Nations, fishermen's organizations, the marine transportation industry, and students and researchers from the Université du Québec à Rimouski, was able to appreciate the quality of the researchers' work. A great success that the Department hopes to repeat in the future!

DFO's firm commitment

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) is firmly committed to the St. Lawrence Action Plan, participating in ten monitoring committees, consultation committees and working groups, and is closely involved in St. Lawrence monitoring programs. The Department's Regional Science Branch plans to increase this commitment and play an even greater role in the coming years thanks to its leading-edge scientific expertise.

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About the St. Lawrence Action Plan (SLAP)

  • The SLAP is a federal-provincial collaboration agreement, renewed in 2011 for a period of 15 years, aiming to conserve and enhance the St. Lawrence, in both the freshwater and marine environments.
  • Like a health assessment of the St. Lawrence, the indicators monitored as part of the SLAP allow the creation of an overall portrait of the River's environmental state. It is intended as a tool to support decision-making leading to actions that can contribute to the conservation of the St. Lawrence's biodiversity and resources.

For more information on Rendez-vous Saint-Laurent, visit the St. Lawrence Action Plan website.

 

Guy Cantin
Science

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