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Quebec Bulletin
August-September 2017/Volume 20/Number 4

Micmacs in Search of a Second Striped Bass Spawning Ground in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence

Photo of four people using a beach seine (a type of net) near the water
MMAFMA
The Gespeg technical team uses a beach seine before identifying the species present and notes the temperature, salinity, and type of sediments and plants. From left to right: Alexis Bernier, Nancy Jalbert, Lisa Arsenault and Yan Tapp.

Since summer 2016, with help from the Government of Canada's Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk, the Micmacs of Gespeg and Gesgapegiag have been surveying the southern shore of the Gaspé Peninsula in search of young Striped bass. They are trying to find a second spawning ground in the Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. In this area, the only spawning ground known to sustain the species is the one in the Miramichi River, in New Brunswick.

340 km of shoreline scanned with a seine
The technical teams of the Mi'gmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association (MMAFMA), supported by the Micmac Nation of Gespeg and the Micmacs of Gesgapegiag, have to date sampled nearly 340 km of the Gaspé coastline. They completed three summer tours of the 69 sites between Forillon and Chandler, east of the Gaspé Peninsula, and between Escuminac and Newport, in Chaleur Bay.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada and the ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec monitor the project closely. Some progress, for example, could indicate that the status of the Striped bass in the Southern Gulf is less of a concern than it was in 2012, when it was assessed by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC).

Photo of three people near the water taking measurements and making notes after deploying a seine
MMAFMA
The Gesgapegiag technical team at work after a seine search. From left to right: Perry Martin, Adam Jerome and Tanya Condo.

Beyond seine searches
The MMAFMA teams increased the seine searches, but did not find any juvenile Striped bass. These teams, trained in sampling techniques by the ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, have also studied the presence of adult Striped bass at several sites. They identified other species that were present and characterized the habitats.

The results of the project will be analyzed in the coming months. For the MMAFMA and the Gespeg and Gesgapegiag teams, the project is an excellent opportunity to diversify their logistical and technical capacities, as well as their scientific knowledge. Lisa Arsenault, the project lead, said that the Mi'gmaq Maliseet Aboriginal Fisheries Management Association benefits from “highly trained personnel who are interested in the project and who are familiar with the territory. The organization has also acquired equipment that will be useful for years.” Adam Jerome, the team leader, said: “Among those dedicated people who have come out in all weather conditions, some have developed an interest that influences their academic and career choices.”

The Southern Gulf of St. Lawrence Striped bass project is financially supported by the Government of Canada's Aboriginal Fund for Species at Risk. It aims to develop the capacities and active participation of Aboriginal peoples and organizations in the conservation and recovery of species at risk. It should be noted that the status of the Southern Gulf Striped Bass remains of concern to the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) because, among other things, the fish has only one spawning ground to ensure its sustainability.

Myriam Bourgeois
Ecosystems Management

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