Maintain the navigation and dredging coordination committees as part of integrated management of the St. Lawrence

Context and project description

From 1988 to 1998, a number of studies on the environmental impacts of commercial shipping and recreational boating were conducted by various St. Lawrence Action Plan stakeholders. As a result, the Navigation Coordination Committee (NCC) was established in 1998, followed by the Committee on the Integrated Management of Dredging and Sediments (CIMDS). The objective of the project is to build consensus between representatives of the marine transportation industry, recreational boaters, and the general public through the work of these committees, with a view to integrated management.

Navigation Coordination Committee

Committee on the Integrated Management of Dredging and Sediments 

Navigation coordination committee

This committee is made up of 25 members from various Canadian and Quebec government departments, shipping industry and recreational boating associations, and environmental groups. It is co-chaired by representatives of Transport Canada and the Quebec Department of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification (MTMDET) and meets three or four times a year. Since the NCC’s objective is to harmonize shipping and recreational boating practices with the protection of ecosystems, it is expected to reconcile the varied and sometimes divergent interests of the groups represented.

Results

First Sustainable Navigation Strategy

In 2004, the committee unveiled its first Sustainable Navigation Strategy for the St. Lawrence. The document proposed ten guiding principles providing a framework for the committee’s actions and identifies priority issues. A first action plan to address those issues was developed in 2010. The first action plan produced successful projects such as the creation of the Dredging Activity Planning Registry, the adoption of a voluntary speed-reduction measure for commercial vessels in erosion-prone areas, and a study of the impacts of climate change on marine transportation.

Second Sustainable Navigation Strategy

The response framework for the second Sustainable Navigation Strategy (2012–2017) consisted of nine issues, which generated all of the objectives and projects implemented by the members of the NCC. Some of those projects are part of the Joint Action Program undertaken by the various participating organizations.

Production of an information guide on marine transportation, “Navigation on the St. Lawrence: Echo of the Past, Path to the Future”

Marine transportation on the St. Lawrence is an important driver of economic prosperity for Quebec, bringing a number of environmental and socioeconomic benefits. An information guide is currently being prepared that will cover the many challenges facing marine transportation: atmospheric emissions, hydrocarbon spills, invasive exotic species (sometimes transported in ballast water), wastewater management, erosion of banks by waves produced by commercial and recreational vessels, harmonization of the various uses of the St. Lawrence, etc. There is also a section on socioeconomic issues, as well as information about the key environmental and governmental stakeholders with an interest in marine transportation and the initiatives taken by the shipping industry to reduce its environmental impact. The guide will be made available on the SLAP website.

Voluntary speed-reduction measure for commercial vessels 

Erosion affects all waterways, and it has many causes. One cause is wave action produced by the wakes of ships and recreational craft. In the fall of 2000, the shipping industry voluntarily adopted a speed-reduction measure for commercial vessels in a 25 km stretch of the St. Lawrence between Sorel and Varennes: vessel pilots are strongly urged not to exceed 10 knots. Since this voluntary measure was introduced, the industry has shown a very high level of compliance (98% on average, from April 2015 to July 2016). As part of this project, the speeds of various ships in these sensitive areas are measured monthly to verify compliance.

Committee on the Integrated Management of Dredging and Sediments

Since the creation of the NCC, dredging and sediment management have been considered as priority issues for navigation on the St. Lawrence. The Committee on the Integrated Management of Dredging and Sediments (CIMDS) was established to deal with them. Its mandate is to work toward improving dredging management in Quebec to ensure adequate protection of ecosystems and public health, while enabling the development of navigation on the St. Lawrence River.

Results

Guide for the Development of Environmental Surveillance and Monitoring Programs for Dredging and Sediment Management Projects

The Guide for the Development of Environmental Surveillance and Monitoring Programs for Dredging and Sediment Management Projects is primarily addressed to dredging project managers and environmental assessment practitioners. It breaks down the steps involved in developing an environmental surveillance and monitoring program (ESMP) and provides practical instructions for developing and implementing an ESMP for dredging and sediment management projects.

Consult the Guide ( PDF / HTML).

Physicochemical and toxicological characterization of sediment and recommendations for managing suspended solids (SS) during dredging

Two new documents were produced: a guide to physicochemical and toxicological characterization of sediment and a guide presenting recommendations for managing suspended solids (SSs) during dredging. Both will soon be posted on the St. Lawrence Action Plan website.

The first guide, whose purpose is to standardize the methodology for characterizing sediments, establishes performance criteria for the analytical methods, as well as acceptability criteria for the results. The second guide offers recommendations on managing SSs and on open-water disposal of dredged sediments. The recommendations were formulated collaboratively, after consultation with various dredging stakeholders. These guides demonstrate the commitment on the part of the Quebec Department of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change (MDDELCC) and Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) to designing tools for managing dredging and sediment.

For more information about these committees, visit the Navigation Coordination Committee web page.

Participating departments

Government of Canada

  • Laurentian Pilotage Authority
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada
  • Canadian Coast Guard
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada
  • Transport Canada
  • Public Works and Procurement Services Canada

Government of Quebec

  • Department of Forests, Wildlife and Parks
  • Department of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification
  • Department of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight Against Climate Change
  • Department of Tourism