Scientists are studying the St. Lawrence River to monitor its health. By researching key environmental indicators, we can assess how well the St. Lawrence ecosystem is doing.
This research is an important part of the St. Lawrence Action Plan, a joint initiative between the governments of Canada and Quebec.
Learn more about the St. Laurence Action Plan: http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en/home.html
Learn more about the state of the
St. Laurence: http://planstlaurent.qc.ca/en/state_monitoring/overview_of_the_state_of_the_st_lawrence.html
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ST. LAWRENCE ACTION PLAN GENERAL
CAROLINE ANDERSON, PH.D. (Aquatic Environment Analyst, ministère de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques du Québec):
The St. Lawrence River is at the heart of Quebec’s culture and economic development. Not only is it a major traffic route, but it’s also very popular with fishers, swimmers and other users.
CAROLINE GIRARD (Head, National Coordination and Integration, Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance, Environment and Climate Change Canada):
Having a coordinated program to monitor the state of the St. Lawrence ecosystem is extremely important so that decision-makers can come to the right decisions based on scientific facts.
ST. LAWRENCE ACTION PLAN
SCIENCE IN ACTION
I’m Caroline Girard from Environment and Climate Change Canada. The State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program evaluates approximately 21 indicators. Around the table, we have federal and provincial colleagues who all bring their indicators. We put all these indicators together to get an overview of the state of the St. Lawrence.
ALAIN ARMELLIN (Biologist, Aquatic Fauna and Flora Specialist, Environment and Climate Change Canada):
The St. Lawrence is an important living environment for the organisms that live there: fish, birds, semi-aquatic mammals, as well as humans.
The overall state of the St. Lawrence in 2019 can be described as moderate–good. This rating is based on an analysis of a number of indicators. These indicators look at water quality, sediment quality and the quality of all living things in the St. Lawrence, both the freshwater and saltwater stretches.
If we compare the indicators we monitored in 2014 with those we monitored in 2019, we see a slight improvement overall. There are still a few indicators that remain of concern, of course, but the majority of the 20 or so indicators available have indeed improved or remained stable.
The new issues that are coming up will guide what we add to our monitoring program; whether at the community, provincial or federal level, we’re all concerned about the impact of microplastics in the aquatic environment. For the moment, it’s a parameter that’s difficult to monitor in the ecosystem, but in the foreseeable future we can say that we’re going to look at whether we should start monitoring microplastics in the ecosystem.
The things we’re observing now are likely to be affected by climate change, so we’re very attentive to the impact of these anticipated changes that will come from climate change.
JEAN-FRANÇOIS RAIL (Biologist, Seabirds, Environment and Climate Change Canada):
Looking at the population of Quebec living along the entire length of the St. Lawrence River and the Gulf of St. Lawrence Estuary, we can see that they have an impact on that ecosystem. We therefore have a responsibility, and it’s better for us to conserve that ecosystem, both to preserve biodiversity and for our own well-being.
We must also be good guardians of our ecosystem, and the parameters we’ve followed in the past, we must also continue to follow them, because that tells the story of the St. Lawrence. It also tells the story of the regulatory interventions we’ve been able to make, and also to see whether the impacts of government programs to protect and develop the river have really had an impact.