Stakeholders in the integrated management of the St. Lawrence River

This section is not intended as an exhaustive description of those participating in the integrated management of the St. Lawrence. Instead, it presents the main categories of those involved.


Government of Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) is mandated to preserve and enhance the quality of the natural environment; conserve Canada’s renewable resources; conserve and protect Canada’s water resources; forecast daily weather conditions and warnings, and provide detailed meteorological information to all of Canada; enforce rules relating to boundary waters, the discharge of harmful substances and the protection of biodiversity, particularly through the application of environmental laws like the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, the Fisheries Act and the Species at Risk Act; and to coordinate environmental policies and programs in the name of the federal government.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada

Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), including the Canadian Coast Guard, has the lead federal role in managing Canada’s fisheries and safeguarding its waters. DFO works toward achieving the following main objectives: ensuring the prosperity and sustainability of commercial, aboriginal, and recreational fisheries, aquaculture operations and other ocean-related industries, contributing to the sustainability of Canada’s aquatic ecosystems, and maintaining and improving maritime safety and security in Canada. The Department’s efforts are governed by the Oceans Act, Fisheries Act, Species at Risk Act, Coastal Fisheries Protection Act and the Canada Shipping Act, 2001 (administered by Transport Canada).

DFO also offers several services to those who use Canada’s waterbodies. For example, the Canadian Hydrographic Service provides mariners and other users with mapping products and data on tides, currents and water levels. In addition, the Canadian Coast Guard works on ensuring the safe and environmentally responsible use of Canada’s waters. It offers boaters search and rescue services, marine communications services and the aids to navigation system.

Transport Canada

Transport Canada (TC) is responsible for the safety of the marine transportation system (e.g.: pleasure craft, fishing vessels, tankers and cruise ships) under the Canada Shipping Act, Navigation Protection Act, Marine Transportation Security Act and the Canada Marine Act.

Transport Canada has 32 harbours that fall into three categories: 5 Canada Port Authorities (Montréal, Trois-Rivières, Québec, Sept-Îles and Saguenay), 17 regional ports (e.g.: Baie-Comeau, Gaspé, Matane, Gros Cacouna) and 10 remote ports (9 along the Lower North Shore and Cap-aux-Meules).

Parks Canada

Parks Canada (PC) protects and presents nationally significant examples of Canada’s natural and cultural heritage, and fosters public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment in ways that ensure the ecological and commemorative integrity of these places for present and future generations. Parks Canada manages six Canadian national parks in Quebec. Under specific legislation, and, in conjunction with the Government of Quebec, Parks Canada enforces regulations designed to protect marine mammals in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.

Gouvernment of Quebec

Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques

Changes to the structure of the Quebec government following the last election have resulted in the reorganization of this department. An update regarding its mandates will be posted to the St. Lawrence Action Plan website once the information is available.

The ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC) is responsible for protecting the environment and conserving biodiversity. It protects natural environments through various legislation, including the Environment Quality Act, the Sustainable Development Act, the Act to Affirm the Collective Nature of Water Resources and Provide for Increased Water Resource Protection, the Act Respecting the Conservation and Development of Wildlife, the Act Respecting Threatened or Vulnerable Species, the Parks Act and the Act Respecting Compensation Measures for the Carrying Out of Projects Affecting Wetlands or Bodies of Water and related regulations. It also implements various environmental policies, including the Québec Water Policy and the Protection Policy for Lakeshores, Riverbanks, Littoral Zones and Floodplains. Under specific legislation, MDDEFP, in conjunction with the Government of Canada, enforces regulations that govern the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park. MDDEFP is also responsible for freshwater sport fishing and controlling industrial and municipal waste water discharges.

The Centre d’expertise hydrique du Québec (CEHQ) is an MDDEFP administrative unit. CEHQ’s mission is to manage the Quebec water regime with a focus on safety, fairness and sustainable development. This involves regulating the water regime by operating public dams, managing government water assets and maintaining their integrity, and ensuring dam safety. CEHQ also provides support to municipalities in determining flood zones and advises the ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP) [Quebec department of public safety], at its request, in emergency situations involving Quebec rivers. More generally, it acquires the hydrological and hydraulic knowledge that MDDEFP requires to ensure water management and assess the impact of climate change on the water regime.

Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs

Changes to the structure of the Quebec government following the last election have resulted in the reorganization of this department. An update regarding its mandates will be posted to the St. Lawrence Action Plan website once the information is available.

Ministère de l’Énergie et des Ressources naturelles

Changes to the structure of the Quebec government following the last election have resulted in the reorganization of this department. An update regarding its mandates will be posted to the St. Lawrence Action Plan website once the information is available.

The ministère de l'Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (MERN) ensures that the territorial integrity of Quebec is maintained and respected. As manager of public lands, which represent 92% of Quebec’s territory, it is responsible for harmonizing various land uses and ensuring optimal land development. MRN also oversees the management, allocation and registration of property rights on government lands. It is also mandated to manage all matters relating to sustainable development of public forests. Finally, because MRN is responsible for natural resource management, it oversees the exploration, promotion and development of mineral resources. It also allocates user licences or rights, and manages fees and royalties on mining, oil and gas, and water resources.

Ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire

The ministère des Affaires municipales et de l’Occupation du territoire (MAMOT) is responsible for municipal organization and regional development. As such, its mission is to support the administration and development of municipalities and regions by promoting a sustainable and integrated approach for the benefit of citizens. In this context, and in conjunction with other departments, it is developing a global vision of government strategies and guidelines on land use and development. In addition, it participates in determining expectations for the protection of natural environments over which municipalities, regional county municipalities and metropolitan communities have certain powers. MAMROT is responsible, among other things, for the Act Respecting Land Use Planning and Development. 

Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l’Électrification des transports du Québec

The Ministère des Transports, de la Mobilité durable et de l’Électrification des transports du Québec mission is to ensure the movement of people and goods across the province through safe, effective transportation systems that contribute to the development of Quebec.

Ministère de la Sécurité publique

Through its role in government operations, the ministère de la Sécurité publique (MSP) is responsible for protecting Quebecers, in particular through crime prevention and preparedness for disasters such as floods.

Ministère du Tourisme

Tourisme Québec promotes the development of the tourism industry in consultation and partnership with public and private stakeholders, with a focus on economic prosperity and sustainable development.

La Société des établissements de plein air du Québec

The Société des établissements de plein air du Québec (Sépaq) is mandated to administer and develop public lands and tourist facilities entrusted under its Act of incorporation. Its mission is to ensure access to public facilities and promote and protect them for the benefit of its clients, Quebec regions and future generations. In particular, it manages six Quebec national parks near or on the St. Lawrence Islands.

La Société des traversiers du Québec

The Société des traversiers du Québec (STQ) is responsible for 11 ferry services in Quebec and service contracts for the Lower North Shore and Magdalen Islands, which enable supplies to be delivered to these remote, isolated areas. STQ, which carries out more than 100 000 crossings per year, owns 15 ferry docks and a fleet of 15 ships. Under the Regulation respecting exemption from payment for certain ferry transport services, three crossings are completely free and some passengers are entitled to other free ferry services.

Municipal areas

Under the Act Respecting Land Use Planning and Development, regional county municipalities (RCM) and metropolitan communities are required to identify zones subject to restrictions for reasons of environmental protection and public safety such as riverbanks and lakeshores, littoral zones and floodplains. RCMs must identify areas of ecological interest in their land use and development plan and may introduce measures to conserve these environments, while metropolitan communities achieve similar results by developing a metropolitan land use and development plan.

Municipal land use and development plans include land use policies provided in land development plans and, if applicable, in metropolitan development plans. Municipalities have a wide range of powers and tools (regulations, land acquisition, creation of parks or beaches, etc.), which may contribute to the development of public access to water. Municipal control consists of regulating or prohibiting land use, buildings, structures and subdivisions taking into account the proximity of a stream or lake or any other factor specific to the nature of a place which may be taken into consideration for reasons of environmental protection regarding riverbanks and lakeshores, littoral zones or floodplains. In the case of floodplains, public safety reasons may be considered. Buildings, facilities and works such as dock construction, culvert installation or shoreline stabilization in these areas require a municipal permit.

First Nations

The Mohawk, Abenaki, Huron-Wendat, Maliseet, Micmacs and Innu form the St. Lawrence First Nations. There are 18 Aboriginal communities belonging to these nations located along the St. Lawrence. Having inhabited and used the St. Lawrence shorelines and resources for centuries, they have acquired unique knowledge of the area. For these communities, the St. Lawrence, its resources and the uses they make of them, are an integral part of their traditional way of life, which underpins their identity and culture. Today, the St. Lawrence still occupies a privileged place in the activities and development of these communities.

Education and research

This sector, which includes school boards, primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, helps enhance knowledge and culture through research and development in various social, economic, environmental or other areas. It integrates these advances in education and within the community and disseminates them locally, nationally, and internationally. Similarly, research and education stakeholders serve communities by sharing their expertise with partners from different communities, which spurs intellectual, scientific, cultural, technological and social innovation.

Non-profit organizations

The many non-profit organizations with a stake in the St. Lawrence work mainly in community, recreational, educational and environmental fields.

Collaborative bodies and structures

The ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques is partnering with various organizations to implement integrated water resources management (IWRM) in Quebec. The organizations’ mission, in the area for which they are responsible, is to promote cooperation among stakeholders involved in water resource management and use, and help them coordinate their actions. Watershed organizations (WOs) share the area covering the St. Lawrence tributaries, which is divided into 40 integrated watershed management areas. Integrated Management of the St. Lawrence (IMSL) is implemented through 12 regional round tables (RRTs) that share the 12 IMSL areas covering the entire St. Lawrence.

The WOs and RRTs contribute to the development, adoption, implementation and monitoring of a water master plan or an integrated regional management plan (IRMP) representing the community’s interests and action priorities.

Note that committees on areas of prime concern (ZIP)—regional coordination and action mechanisms—are also present in the area. Their mandate is to bring together the main users of the St. Lawrence in their respective areas and help them work together to resolve local and regional issues affecting St. Lawrence ecosystems and their uses. In the context of Integrated Management of the St. Lawrence, because of their expertise, ZIP committees will be important partners in implementing RRTs and will be involved in their work.

Private sector

Operators or industries that use the St. Lawrence are stakeholders that work in areas such as shipping, commercial fishing, aquaculture, energy, tourism, agriculture and forestry. They use the St. Lawrence and its resources to generate economic activity.