Parks Canada enhances beluga protection in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park
Establishment of a temporary exclusion area at Baie Sainte-Marguerite
June 19, 2018 Tadoussac, Quebec Parks Canada Agency
Parks Canada taking action to protect nature, support healthy ecosystems and promote the recovery of species at risk, including the endangered St. Lawrence beluga whale.
Today, Catherine McKenna, Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the establishment of an exclusion sector at Baie Sainte-Marguerite from June 21st to September 21st. This measure, which starts in 2018 and will recur annually, protects a portion of the critical habitat of the St. Lawrence beluga.
Baie Sainte-Marguerite is located in the Saguenay Fjord and is part of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, a marine protected area managed by Parks Canada and the Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq). This bay is an ideal place for beluga whales and their young, as conditions are favourable for calving and nursing. Ensuring the ongoing presence of belugas in this bay is a priority to promote the recovery of this population.
This will be the first area closed to navigation under the Marine Activities in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations. This protection measure is the result of more than 15 years of research, collaboration and consultation with local, regional and government partners.
Following the largest consultation ever held on Parks Canada, the Minister’s Round Table, Let’s Talk Parks, Canada!, Minister McKenna put forward her priorities for Parks Canada, underscoring that ecological integrity must be a first priority in the management of Parks places. The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is an excellent example of Parks Canada and its partners’ efforts to protect and restore our natural spaces and enable Canadians to discover and connect with nature.
“Canadians care deeply about nature and expect government to take swift action to protect iconic species like the endangered St. Lawrence beluga. That’s why we’re temporarily limiting boat traffic in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, to ensure belugas have a safe and tranquil place to have and raise their young. Our government will continue to rely on science and positive collaboration with individuals, Indigenous Peoples, industry and others to protect species at risk and the natural places Canadians cherish.”
The Honourable Catherine McKenna,
Minister of the Environment and Climate Change and Minister responsible for Parks Canada
- The St. Lawrence beluga population is estimated at 889 individuals and is endangered.
- A large area of the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park (77%) is critical beluga habitat. Beluga whale herds are found in both the Saguenay Fjord and the St. Lawrence Estuary.
- 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 humans.
- By offering quiet places to belugas and respecting the regulations in force in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, users contribute to the recovery of this species. Every action counts when it comes to restoring an endangered population.
Partnering, Engagement and Communications Officer
Saguenay–St. Lawrence Field Unit
418-235-4703 ext. 246
Parks Canada Agency