Presentation summaries and biographical notes

Overview of the state of the St-Lawrence

Overview 2014: A delicate balance

Caroline Savage, Environmental Indicators Specialist
Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
caroline.savage2@canada.ca

Caroline Savage has a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in biological sciences from the Université de Montréal and has worked at ECCC since 2002, including stints as a plant ecology specialist and a geomatics specialist. She has participated in a number of projects, including the International Joint Commission’s research on the impact of water level fluctuations on marsh bird habitat along the St. Lawrence. She has collaborated on wetland, invasive plant, and benthic macro-invertebrate monitoring projects. Currently, her primary area of research is the development and integration of environmental indicators for the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program.


Abstract
For the third time, the Working Group on the State of the St. Lawrence took up the challenge of producing an overview of the state of the St. Lawrence as called for in the Canada–Quebec Agreement on the St. Lawrence, also known as the “St. Lawrence Action Plan 2011–2026.” In the report, the group incorporated the findings obtained by many scientists belonging to organizations involved in implementing the State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program.

State of the St-Lawrence monitoring indicators

State of a small population of belugas in a changing environment

Véronique Lesage, Research Scientist, Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
veronique.lesage@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

For 16 years, Véronique Lesage (Ph.D.) has worked at Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO)’s Maurice Lamontagne Institute in Quebec as a research scientist specializing in cetacean ecology, especially the ecology of species at risk. She has been studying the beluga whale and other marine mammals for 25 years. Most of her work focuses on the ecology and behaviour of belugas and baleen whales. She is the lead author of three assessment reports on the status and biology of the St. Lawrence Estuary beluga and has published about 30 scientific articles and written more than 50 reports and scientific advisory documents for DFO, half of them on the Estuary and Arctic beluga populations.

Abstract
The St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population was devastated by hunting in the 20th century, which led to the species being protected in the early 1980s. But despite that protection, the population has seen little or no growth in the intervening decades. In 2008, 2010 and 2012, the abnormally high mortality of newborn calves led to an in-depth review of the situation, which revealed that this population is declining by about 1% per year. Multiple factors may be contributing to the belugas’ decline; Dr. Lesage has examined pollutant loads, changes in the abundance of potential prey, warming of the environment, the increase in recreational and tourism activities, and occasional toxic algae blooms.

Overarching issues related to the state of the St-Lawrence

Developing ecosystem indicators for the marine sector of the St. Lawrence

Yvan Lambert, Director
Demersal and Benthic Science Branch
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Yvan.Lambert@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Yvan Lambert has a Ph.D. in biology from Université Laval. He is the Director of the Demersal and Benthic Science Branch at the Maurice Lamontagne Institute, Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s research centre for Quebec Region. He directs and manages assessments of groundfish and marine invertebrates in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence Gulf, as well as directing research programs on groundfish, marine inverterbrates, aquaculture and aquatic invasive species in marine environments for the Quebec Region.

Abstract
Significant changes in oceanographic conditions in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence have been observed in recent years. According to various climate scenarios, those changes are expected to increase in frequency and intensity in the future. The composition and structure of the St. Lawrence ecosystem will inevitably be modified by these variations in environmental conditions. Hence the need to design different indicators for tracking changes in the state of the ecosystem. An analysis of the various marine species monitoring programs will be conducted to identify the ecosystem indicators that could be useful for assessing and monitoring the state of the St. Lawrence.

Restoring the Lake Saint-Pierre ecosystem: A critical challenge for the St. Lawrence River

Philippe Brodeur, Biologist
Director of Wildlife Management, Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec
Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec
Philippe.Brodeur@mffp.gouv.qc.ca

Philippe Brodeur has a master’s degree in environmental science from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières (UQTR), where he wrote his thesis on control of the white sucker in brook trout lakes in Quebec. He has been a biologist for the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs since 2002 and is currently working on monitoring and managing fish populations in the St. Lawrence in the Mauricie and Centre-du-Québec regions. He has participated in a number of studies of the health of wetlands and fish communities and in habitat enhancement work on the St. Lawrence floodplain.

Abstract
The yellow perch population in Lake Saint-Pierre has seen a major decline since the mid-1990s. The situation has become so critical that the Government of Quebec declared a five-year moratorium on commercial and sport fishing of the species. The decline of the yellow perch in Lake Saint-Pierre has become an indicator of the ecosystem’s deterioration. A recent study indicates that the yellow perch in Lake Saint-Pierre are in poorer health than those in other sectors of the St. Lawrence, likely because of poor water quality or insufficient food resources. By bringing together all of the expertise available and creating a common vision, the parties involved will be able to take effective, sustainable measures to restore fish habitat and fish populations in Lake Saint-Pierre.


Contamination by toxic substances

Water quality in the Richelieu and Yamaska rivers: Contamination by toxic substances

Denis Laliberté, Aquatic Environment Analyst
Direction du suivi de l'état de l’environnement, Ministère du Développement durable,
de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC) du Québec

denis.laliberte@mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca

Denis Laliberté has been an aquatic environment analyst at the MDDELCC’s Direction du suivi de l'état de l’environnement [State of the Environment Monitoring Branch] since 1980. His work focuses on evaluating contamination of aquatic environments by toxic substances.

Abstract
The data show the changes over time (2001 to 2013) in concentrations of PCBs, PAHs, PCDD/Fs and PBDEs in the waters of the Richielieu River at Sorel-Tracy and the Yamaska River at Saint-Hyacinthe.

Water quality monitoring: Toxic contaminants

Myriam Rondeau, Senior Specialist in Fluvial Geochemistry
Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
myriam.rondeau@canada.ca

After completing a bachelor’s degree in geology and a master’s in geochemistry at UQAM, Myriam Rondeau started working at ECCC in 1990 as a water quality project manager. She was particularly interested in the presence and transport of contaminants in the St. Lawrence. Since 2006, she has been a senior specialist in fluvial geochemistry, and she is involved in many water quality projects in Canada.

Abstract
Contaminants were monitored between 2006 and 2011 at four stations in the St. Lawrence and the Ottawa River. Analysis of the results for metals, pesticides, pharmaceutical and personal care products, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) showed few exceedances of the quality guidelines for protection of aquatic life. Overall, at the four stations sampled, the results were in the moderate–good category. The PBDE concentrations showed a downward trend, but the levels of estradiol are cause for concern.



Lake Saint-Pierre sediments: Legacy and emerging contaminants

Magella Pelletier, Sedimentologist
Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
magella.pelletier@canada.ca

Magella Pelletier has a bachelor’s degree in geology from Université Laval and a master’s in environmental geology from INRS. He has worked as a sedimentologist at ECCC since 2001. He is currently responsible for monitoring sediment quality in the St. Lawrence and for the Chemical Management Plan (CMP) at the national level. He has conducted a number of studies on the fluvial lakes in the St. Lawrence and on emerging substances of concern.

Abstract
The sediments in Lake Saint-Pierre have been monitored for more than 30 years. In a new sampling campaign in 2013, about 100 samples were taken, mostly in the northern part of Lake Saint-Pierre and in the channels of the Sorel Islands and the Berthier Islands. The chemical results for legacy contaminants show recovery of the environment in recent decades, in terms of metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Recent assessments of contaminants of emerging concern show relatively high levels of sediment contamination by PBDEs and provide a first glimpse of the situation for siloxanes, phthalates, triclosan and BPA.

Marine ecosystem functioning

Recent trends in physical conditions in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence

Peter Galbraith, Research Scientist in Physical Oceanography
Ocean and Environmental Science Branch
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
peter.galbraith@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Peter Galbraith is a physical oceanography researcher whose focus is winter conditions affecting the water masses in the Gulf of St. Lawrence and their continued effect on oceanographic conditions during the following summer. He is a member of the Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP)’s permanent coordinating committee and is responsible for delivering his scientific program for Quebec Region. Every year, with the help of collaborators, he writes a research document on the physical oceanographic conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Abstract
Certain oceanographic conditions in the Gulf of St. Lawrence are considered, and their status is combined in a single indicator. The temperature of the three layers of water in the Gulf (surface layer, cold intermediate layer [CIL] and deep layer), the state of hypoxia and acidification in the St. Lawrence Estuary are studied. Deep water temperatures are the highest seen in 100 years, while record levels of hypoxia and acidity (pH) have been observed in the Estuary.

Recent trends in chemical oceanographic and biological (phytoplankton, zooplankton and toxic algae) conditions in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence

Michel Starr, research scientist in biological oceanography at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Maurice Lamontagne Institute

michel.starr@dfo-mpo.gc.ca


Michel Starr is a research scientist in biological oceanography at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Maurice Lamontagne Institute. His research focuses on human-induced disturbances of the pelagic ecosystem in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, particularly eutrophication and acidification, but he is also interested in the ecology of toxic algae. He is involved in the Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program (AZMP) and is a member of a number of working groups of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

Abstract
The presenter reviews recent trends in oceanographic conditions, both chemical (nutrients and acidification) and biological (phytoplankton and zooplankton), in the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. The main source of the information is Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Atlantic Zone Monitoring Program. This program was set up to monitor the state of the marine ecosystems in the North Atlantic, including those of the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Although the AZMP was only created in 1998, it encompasses monitoring programs begun long before then, including the oceanographic monitoring program at the Rimouski station (launched in 1990) and the program for monitoring toxic and harmful algae (launched in 1989).

Status of invasive aquatic species in the St. Lawrence marine environment

Nathalie Simard, Senior Biologist
Fisheries and Oceans Canada
Nathalie.Simard@dfo-mpo.gc.ca

Nathalie Simard has a bachelor’s degree in biology (1988) and a master’s in marine ecology from the Université Laval (1994). As a senior biologist, she coordinates Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s aquatic invasive species (AIS) monitoring program in the Quebec Region and participates in numerous AIS research projects.

Abstract
Results from an index of aquatic invasive species in Quebec’s marine sectors will be presented and the situation of these species assessed.

Freshwater ecosystem functioning

Water quality in the fluvial sector: Physicochemical and bacteriological parameters, 2000–2014

Serge Hébert, Coordinator of Water Quality, Monitoring in Watercourses
Direction générale du suivi de l’état de l’environnement, Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC)
serge.hebert@mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca

After studying biology and water sciences at Université Laval and the Institut national de la recherche scientifique – Centre Eau Terre Environnement (INRS-ETE), Serge Hébert became a water quality specialist with MDDELCC’s Direction générale du suivi de l’état de l’environnement [State of the Environment Monitoring Branch] in 1991. Currently, he coordinates the network for monitoring water quality in watercourses, and he has conducted numerous studies on water quality in the St. Lawrence.


Abstract
For the years 2012 to 2014, water quality in the St. Lawrence was rated as moderate–good; 52% of the 27 monitoring sites had good water quality according to IQBP. From 2000 to 2014, the situation did not change much: the percentage of sites whose water quality was considered good or satisfactory hovered around 81%. The percentage of sites with poor or very poor water quality decreased, from about 13% between 2000 and 2007 to about 8% between 2008 and 2014.

What do the St. Lawrence benthic communities reveal about the state of aquatic ecosystems?

Alain Armellin, Project Manager,
Aquatic Plants and Animals, Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
alain.armellin@canada.ca

After studying biology at the Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and environment and prevention at the Université de Montréal, Alain Armellin joined the Water Science and Technology Directorate of ECCC, where he has worked as a specialist in biomonitoring of water quality since 2004. He has coordinated the activities of the Canadian Aquatic Biomonitoring Network (CABIN) in Quebec since 2006.

Abstract
Benthic invertebrates show a wide range of sensitivities to physical, chemical and biological disturbances. Monitoring the variations in their diversity and abundance is a way of evaluating the integrity of freshwater aquatic ecosystems. This presentation focused on the temporal variations in the health of aquatic ecosystems in Lake Saint-Pierre from 2004 to 2014. During that period, more than 241 invertebrate genera were studied in Lake Saint-Pierre. The lowest abundance was observed in 2006; the highest, in 2012.

 

Health status of freshwater fish in the St. Lawrence

Marc Mingelbier, Research Biologist in Aquatic Ecology
Direction de l’expertise sur la faune aquatique
Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs (MFFP) du Québec

Marc.Mingelbier@mffp.gouv.qc.ca

Marc Mingelbier is a research biologist in aquatic ecology who has worked since 1996 for what was then Quebec’s Ministère responsable de la Faune (now the Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs). His work focuses largely on fish habitat in the St. Lawrence and involves analyzing historical landings of fish, designing spatial models of fish habitat to study the effects of climate change and of flow regulation in the St. Lawrence, studying the biological productivity of managed marshes in the St. Lawrence floodplain, and designing new multi-species fish ladders.

Abstract
Fish communities in the St. Lawrence are spatially disparate and temporally dynamic. Their dynamic nature can be explained by factors including the natural characteristics of the habitats and disturbances caused by human activity. It is important to understand the effects of these factors in order to correctly interpret the temporal fluctuations observed in the fish communities. The results of 20 years of monitoring the St. Lawrence reveal some issues that affect the entire system and others that have regional-scale impacts. This presentation reports on the health status of freshwater fish in the St. Lawrence, based on indicators related to the fish community, certain harvested stocks and important habitats, and it paints a picture of the major pressures acting on these components of the St. Lawrence ecosystem.

Evolution of land cover along the St. Lawrence, 2000–2015

Guy Létourneau, Project Manager, Remote Sensing
Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
guy.letourneau@canada.ca

Guy Letourneau has a bachelor’s degree in physical geography and a master’s in geography and remote sensing from the Université de Sherbrooke. He has worked at Environment and Climate Change Canada since 1991, managing remote sensing projects. He is responsible for two indicators used in the State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program: wetland composition and land cover. He also works on implementing water quality monitoring by remote sensing in some waterbodies.

Abstract
Land cover along the St. Lawrence is constantly changing. An analysis of watersheds selected on the basis of the results compiled in the most recent monitoring sheet was carried out in order to better understand the pressures exerted by changes in land cover on water quality in the St. Lawrence. Land cover maps from 2000 and 2015 were compared to identify changes and determine the status of this indicator.

Freshwater wetlands: 2012 status report

Martin Jean, Project Manager, Wetlands
Water Quality Monitoring and Surveillance
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC)
martin.jean@canada.ca

Martin Jean has a Ph.D. in biological sciences from the Université de Montréal and has worked for ECCC since 1993. He has been a specialist in wetlands biomonitoring at ECCC’s Water Science and Technology Directorate since 2002. He has managed many wetland and invasive plant monitoring projects and has collaborated on monitoring benthic macro-invertebrates. Currently, most of his work involves biological monitoring, information integration and dissemination, and quality assurance for environmental monitoring projects.

Abstract
The surface area of freshwater wetlands indicator was modified to incorporate four components: direct anthropogenic pressure on the surface area; the internal dynamics of wetlands; the diversity of wetland habitats; and the protection of wetlands from external stresses. The Boucherville Islands and Lake Saint-Pierre sectors were studied from the 1970s to 2010. The general state of the wetlands in those sectors is rated as moderate–good, and the overall trend is stable.

Monitoring of invasive exotic plants in St. Lawrence wetlands, in cooperation with communities

Isabelle Simard, Coordinator, Invasive Exotic Plant Species
Direction du patrimoine écologique et des parcs [Ecological Heritage and Parks Branch]
Ministère du Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte contre les changements climatiques (MDDELCC) du Québec
isabelle.simard@mddelcc.gouv.qc.ca

Isabelle Simard has a Ph.D. in environmental science from the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi. She has been coordinating the invasive exotic plant species file at MDDELCC since 2006. She is currently setting up detection and monitoring networks for invasive exotic plants and developing awareness and prevention tools for limiting the introduction and spread of invasive exotic species.

Abstract
A number of introduced species are impacting wetlands along the St. Lawrence. Since 2007, communities have been monitoring spread of the most problematic species. This presentation focuses on the trends observed, the sectors that are most affected and the sectors to watch.




Freshwater presentations – Role of communities

Status of Japanese knotweed in the Greater Montreal area

Ophélie Drevet, Project Manager
Jacques-Cartier ZIP Committee
cprojets@zipseigneuries.com

Ophélie Drevet has a bachelor’s degree in biological and ecological sciences from UQTR and a master’s in water science from INRS-ETE. Her research focused on the metabolic consequences and subcellular distribution of the metals accumulated in juvenile perch exposed to a mix of cadmium and nickel. Ms. Drevet has acquired experience in various areas including agriculture, environmental education and ecotoxicology. After working for more than a year as a project manager with a watershed group, the Organisme de bassin versant du Témiscamingue, she joined the Des Seigneuries ZIP Committee team to pursue her career in water management.

Abstract

From 2012 to 2015, the Jacques-Cartier ZIP Committee studied Japanese knotweed in order to halt its introduction and slow its spread. A characterization was carried out, methods of controlling the plant were tested, and awareness tools were prepared.


The Saint-Éloi marsh: Wildlife developments in agricultural areas

Mylène Vallée, Director
Les Deux Rives ZIP Committee
mvallee@zip2r.org

Mylène Vallée is the Director of Les Deux Rives ZIP Committee. She has a bachelor’s degree in geography and a master’s in environmental science from the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières. With her team, she coordinates a number of projects aimed at enhancement and conservation of the St. Lawrence River.

Abstract
The wildlife development project in an agricultural area at the Saint-Éloi marsh is an initiative promoting synergy between several sectors of activity, including agriculture, municipal government, wildlife conservation and research. It is an example of a collaborative project that leads to action which is likely to benefit the different users of the site.


Marine presentations – Role of communities

Characterization of wetlands and invasive exotic species in the Charlevoix region, 2014–2015

Joanie Bélanger, Bureau d’écologie appliquée
Saguenay-Charlevoix ZIP Committee
joanie.belanger@coop-ecologie.com

Joanie Bélanger has acquired expertise in characterization of ecosystems and in botany by carrying out numerous ecological inventories in various regions of Quebec. She uses that expertise as a project manager at the Bureau d’écologie appliquée [office of applied ecology]. The subjects of her inventories have included rare plants, wetlands and invasive species. She is also interested in the preservation, transfer and promotion of plant-related knowledge. She conducted the wetland characterization and the inventory of clandestine dump sites in the Charlevoix region for the Saguenay–Charlevoix ZIP Committee during the 2014 inventories.

Abstract
The project involved conducting an inventory of illegal dump sites and a characterization of wetlands in the St. Lawrence River corridor within the two RCMs in Charlevoix. It enabled the participants to produce an initial picture of the diversity and richness of the wetlands in this part of the St. Lawrence and to evaluate the problem of invasive exotic species in this corridor.


Study of surface currents using drifting buoys in Chaleur Bay

Geneviève Lemoyne, Director
Baie des Chaleurs ZIP Committee
info@zipgaspesie.org

Geneviève Lemoyne has been the Director of the Baie des Chaleurs ZIP Committee for four years. She has a bachelor’s degree in biology and has spent the past six years raising awareness of and promoting collaboration on environmental issues. Her work has involved a variety of projects, including preparing a water management plan, carrying out wildlife inventories, and mobilizing for action on climate change.

Abstract
In response to citizens’ concerns about plans to build a quarry, cement plant and marine terminal at Port-Daniel–Gascons and an oil terminal at the Port of Belledune, the Baie des Chaleurs ZIP Committee and the Institut des sciences de la mer de Rimouski (ISMER) collaborated on a project to deploy drifting buoys in order to characterize the drift and dispersion of surface waters, which are subject to the combined effects of wind, currents and waves, and to test the validity of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s forecasting model.


Experimental restoration of an eelgrass bed in Mitis Bay

Étienne Bachand, Assistant Director
Sud-de-l’Estuaire ZIP Committee
zipse@globetrotter.net

Étienne Bachand has a master’s degree in coastal geomorphology from the Université du Québec à Rimouski. He joined the ZIP Committee team in 2010 as a project manager and has held the position of Assistant Director since 2014.

Abstract

In October 2013, the Sud-de-l’Estuaire ZIP Committee launched an experimental project to restore 1,300 eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) plants in Mitis Bay. The project involved testing three transplanting techniques and cultivation of eelgrass in continuous flow-through tanks.