Rules of Navigation around Beluga Whales in the St. Lawrence Estuary and Saguenay River

Logo keep your distance

If you see one or many beluga whales or if they approach your vessel:

Logo keep your distance



Move away and keep a distance of 400 metres between your vessel and the beluga whales.

Speed limit 5 to 10 knots in a black rectangle



Maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots, if possible.

Black hexagon encircled by a prohibited symbol.



In the Marine Park, do not stop if you are less than half a nautical mile (926 m) from the beluga whales.

Remember that specific regulatory measures apply:

In the St. Lawrence Estuary, the Marine Mammal Regulations.

Within the Saguenay-St.Lawrence Marine Park boundaries, the The Marine Activities in the Saguenay St.Lawrence Marine Park Regulations.

Sailing boat surrounded by a red zone with the mention 400 m
Map of the limits of the St. Lawrence Estuary. Eastern tip of Isle-aux-Coudres and Saint-Roch-des-Aulnaies upstream; Pointe-des-Monts and Sainte-Anne-des-Monts downstream.

Whales at Risk

Beluga whales need space and a peaceful environment

When beluga whales approach your vessel, they are reacting to your presence by changing their behaviour. Your presence can disturb their resting, feeding activities, even the birthing or nursing of their young. Don’t forget that there are thousands of boats in the Estuary between June and September, during the beluga birthing season. All these disturbances can have an impact on the health and reproduction of beluga whales and on the survival of their young.

To ensure that beluga whales have a peaceful environment, and to protect them, regulations regarding the distances to stay within apply.

Illustration of a beluga


The St. Lawrence beluga whale is an endangered species listed in the Species at Risk Act registry.

Illustration of a blue whale


The blue whale and other threatened or endangered whales are also protected by the same rules.

 How far is 400 metres? 
    •	6 Boeing 747s (71m long).
    •	1 Percé Rock (450m long).
    •	30 School Buses (13,7m long).
    •	4 Football Fields (110m long).

Online training for boaters and kayakers

You enjoy boating or kayaking in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence? Tale the brand new online training course Navigating Whale Habitat. You will learn more about marine mammals that live there and discover the best boating practices to adopt in their presence. 

To report an incident

If you witness any activity or behaviour that is disturbing belugas please contact Poaching Alert at Fisheries and Oceans Canada on the Internet or at:


Online form

When a marine mammal is stranded, injured or entangled in fishing gear, alert the Quebec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network: