Montreal, February 3, 2023 – As the largest international conference on marine protected areas (IMPAC5) gets under way today in Vancouver, the Société pour la nature et les parcs (SNAP Québec) is calling on the governments of Quebec and Canada to take concrete action to make up for lost time in protecting the St. Lawrence.
“After the failed COP15 meeting last December, we are asking both governments to take action on marine conservation, in particular by making public the feasibility study for the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park expansion project and by taking the necessary steps for the establishment of the network of protected areas in the Northern Gulf of St. Lawrence around Anticosti Island,” said Alain Branchaud, Executive Director of SNAP Québec .
Expanding the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, a proven model
The planned expansion of the marine park could more than double the park’s current area (1,245 km²), thereby completely encompassing the critical habitat of the St. Lawrence beluga. The St. Lawrence beluga population consists of less than 900 individuals and is designated as endangered.
“This expansion would build on a well-established and effective collaborative governance model that is producing concrete results for the protection and conservation of the beluga,” says Marie Cadieux, Marine Conservation Coordinator at SNAP Québec.
For real marine protected areas around Anticosti Island
The various sites that are part of the Northern Gulf Marine Protected Area Network around Anticosti Island are all recognized for their high ecological value and their fragility, many of them hosting large concentrations of sea sponges and cold-water corals or frequented by cetaceans, including the North Atlantic right whale.
“The Northern Gulf Network represents 5.3% of Quebec’s marine territory and its ecological value fully justifies the enhanced protection it would receive through the establishment of a protected area. Quebec and Ottawa have already put in place measures to prohibit certain harmful activities, and there is only one step left to take to achieve protected area status,” adds Véronique Bussières, Director of Biocultural Conservation at SNAP Québec.
In June 2019, Quebec and Ottawa announced with great fanfare their intention to establish protected areas in the St. Lawrence estuary and around Anticosti Island. In December 2020, the Quebec government granted the status of Territorial Reserves for Protected Area Purposes (TRPAPs) to these sectors.
As the race to protect 30% of marine territory by 2030 begins, it is urgent to finalize the legal protection of these two areas, which are already being counted towards the 10% target for 2020.
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Communications Specialist, SNAP Québec