June 10, 2019 Tadoussac, Quebec Parks Canada Agency
Canada has some of the most spectacular coastlines in the world that provide habitat for rich biodiversity and valuable ecosystems. The Government of Canada is committed to doubling the amount of nature protected in Canada’s lands and oceans to help recover species at risk, combat climate change, and provide Canadians with the opportunity to discover the immense richness of nature.
Today, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister Responsible for Parks Canada, has announced that 44% of the area of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park will be exempt from commercial whale-watching excursions as a means to provide beluga whales with greater tranquility. The conservation area is situated in the Upper Estuary and extends from pointe au Bouleau, near Baie-Sainte-Catherine to Gros cap à l’Aigle, in the Charlevoix region. This conservation measure was developed in partnership with the nine whale-watching tour companies that operate within the marine park.
In the summer, nearly a quarter of the St. Lawrence beluga population is found in the conservation area of the Upper Estuary. Female belugas and their young make intensive use of this part of the estuary of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park because it offers ideal conditions for them: choice food, shallow and warmer waters. Protecting the feeding, birth and rearing of newborns areas is essential for the recovery of this population.
It is by working together that we can find the best solutions to protect our environment and grow our economy.
The Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is an excellent example of Parks Canada and Sépaq’s efforts to protect and restore our natural spaces and enable Canadians to discover and connect with nature.
“The Government of Canada is doubling the amount of nature we protect on Canada’s land and oceans. Canadians expect us to take concrete actions to help recover endangered species. The protection of nature is beneficial not only to our environment and biodiversity, but also to our economy and communities.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
“Our government refuses to hand the responsibility of protecting nature and wildlife to the next generation. That is why our government is acting now to protect our species at risk. The new measures announced today will strengthen our ability to protect the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga.”
The Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson,
Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard
Created in 1998, the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park is a marine protected area co-managed by Parks Canada and Sépaq. The marine park is entirely made up of water and extends from Les Escoumins to La Malbaie and from Tadoussac to Sainte-Rose-du-Nord, in the Saguenay. It covers three major ecosystems: the Saguenay Fjord, the Lower Estuary and the Upper Estuary.
The St. Lawrence beluga population is estimated at 889 individuals (2012) and it is endangered. The causes of the beluga whale’s decline are many and are not limited to the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park. Parks Canada is, however, in a position to take concrete action on one of the important causes identified by science: disturbance caused by human activities.
All passengers must maintain a distance of at least 400 metres between their vessel and beluga whales in the Saguenay Fjord and the St. Lawrence Estuary.