Proceed with 3 marine protected area initiatives

Context and project description

We are not looking at a small project here! It is nothing less than the creation of three new marine protected areas in the maritime St. Lawrence. A first marine park was created in Quebec in 1998, largely due to the efforts of the St. Lawrence Action Plan. The Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park protects an area of 1,245 km2 at the junction of the Saguenay and St. Lawrence rivers, in the maritime estuary. To some degree, that marine protected area created a new model: it is the only park in Canada that is managed jointly by the federal government and a province, the first to include local communities in its management, and the first in Quebec to exclusively protect a marine environment. The three marine areas that will be added to the Saguenay-St. Lawrence will reinforce the protection of marine biodiversity and vulnerable species in the estuary and the Gulf, in a context in which there is increasing pressure on marine ecosystems.


Canada and Quebec want to protect 10% of the marine environment by 2020, in order to achieve the international objectives set out in the Convention on Biological Diversity. Currently, the two marine protected areas in Quebec – the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park and the projected aquatic reserve in Manicouagan – represent nearly 2,000 km2, which is slightly more than 1% of the marine environment.

As part of the 2011–2016 phase of SLAP, the governments of Canada and Quebec have reaffirmed their commitment to protect marine and coastal biodiversity in the estuary and the Gulf of St. Lawrence by creating marine protected areas. In that spirit, they have developed a framework agreement for establishing marine protected areas in Quebec, in order to define the principles of collaboration for creating MPAs.

The two governments have also worked on developing two marine protected areas: one off the coast of the Magdalen Islands and the other on the American Bank. In addition, they recently resumed discussions on implementing conservation measures in the St. Lawrence estuary. So, although the initial project of creating three marine protected areas was not finalized during this phase, the governments have taken the first steps and are working together to complete it in the near future.

Participating departments

Government of Canada

  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Parks Canada

Government of Quebec

  • Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques 
  • Ministère de l’Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l’Alimentation