Participate actively in forums for consensus building aimed at the application of principles of sustainable commercial and recreational navigation

How can we apply sustainable development principles to navigation activities on the St. Lawrence? The Navigation Coordination Committee (NCC) proposes avenues for moving the discussion forward, among others, the second Sustainable Navigation Strategy, which reflects the common desire to address existing and emerging issues. This strategy proposes sustainable navigation principles aimed at harmonizing the use of and protecting a remarkable heritage for future generations.

The challenges of coordinating sustainable navigation on the St. Lawrence are numerous. Navigation activities, both commercial and recreational, must not damage the integrity of the ecosystems. In this context, certain approaches must be promoted, including the implementation of structures such as the NCC that facilitate the coordination of various stakeholders, and the publication of tools to raise awareness among users.

The NCC brings together representatives of the Canadian and Quebec governments, the shipping industry, environmental groups and actors from the recreational navigation sector. Through active participation in various forums for consensus building, the committee can convey a vision of the St. Lawrence as a shipping route that must be protected, by proposing guidelines for sustainable navigation. The assimilation of this vision by decision-makers and stakeholders will contribute to the implementation of concrete actions. Through the project, the NCC aims to continue its ongoing dialogue with the community and present its work to a wider audience, in particular through seminars.

Reconcile interests to promote sustainable navigation

The Navigation Coordination Committee (NCC) was created in 1998. The committee consists of 25 members from various departments of the federal and Quebec governments, the marine industry and recreational boating associations, as well as environmental groups. It is co-chaired by representatives of Transport Canada and the Quebec Department of Transport, Sustainable Mobility and Transport Electrification.

The committee’s objective is to harmonize shipping and recreational boating practices with the protection of ecosystems. Consequently, it is expected to reconcile the varied and sometimes divergent interests of the groups represented, notably with the aim of implementing the second Sustainable Navigation Strategy for the St. Lawrence.

Over the past five years (2011-2016), members of the NCC met 18 times and organized close to 45 presentations at the meetings to better understand and discuss certain issues or projects related to the NCC’s action plan. The committee put a lot of energy and effort into developing the second Sustainable Navigation Strategy for the St. Lawrence. The coordination committee also maintained strong ties with two other committees: the Committee on the Integrated Management of Dredging and Sediments (CIMDS) and the Working Group on Marine Traffic and Protection of Marine Mammals in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (G2T3M). In addition, the NCC formed two sub-committees (transportation of hydrocarbons and recreational navigation) and is continuing its cooperation with the SLAP through two projects: monitoring boat speeds in certain stretches of the St. Lawrence and developing the guide titled Navigation on the St. Lawrence: Echo of the Past, Path to the Future.

Broaden the scope of the Dredging Activities Planning Registry and keep it updated

During an earlier phase of the SLAP, our experts created the Dredging Activities Planning Registry. This portal, which is accessible to the public, groups together all information related to the integrated management of dredging and sediments in the St. Lawrence.

The project will enhance the Registry to provide the public with current information about dredging and sediment management. It will group together reference documents, good practices guides and links to applicable regulations. It will also allow developers to register their dredging projects on a page created for this purpose that is accessible to the public.

Continue the activities of the Committee on the Integrated Management of Dredging and Sediments (CIMDS)

The Committee on the Integrated Management of Dredging and Sediments (CIMDS) is mostly composed of representatives from the federal and provincial governments. However, representatives from communities as well as the port, marine and recreational navigation industries may be called on to participate in CIMDS projects, based on their interests.

With the expected increase in marine transportation on the St. Lawrence in coming years, it may be necessary to modify shipping lanes on the St. Lawrence, as well as port infrastructures, in order to accommodate more, or bigger, vessels.

In this context, the CIMDS will have a key role to play. It will continue to develop tools to promote good practices that will serve as guidelines for the management of dredging and sediments in Quebec. The CIMDS will also continue to coordinate research projects documenting the impact of dredging and the management of sediments, contaminated or not, on the aquatic environment.

Assess the cohabitation of fish and boats in the shipping lane

During another phase of the SLAP in which a project was carried out in collaboration with the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières and the Fondation de la faune du Québec, our researchers discovered that 27 species of fish occupy the shipping channel, a habitat long believed to be hostile to fish. This new knowledge of marine life in the St. Lawrence must from now on be taken into account in Seaway development projects. Among the species inhabiting the channel are the Lake Sturgeon, the Sauger, the Walleye and the Channel Catfish, all significant species for commercial and sport fishing.

In this project, our researchers will continue to study these fish to learn more about their behaviour. To do so, they will use a telemetric network to detect the movement of fish in the St. Lawrence.

Voluntary speed-reduction measure for commercial vessels

Erosion is a phenomenon that affects all waterways and is caused by multiple factors. One of these factors is waves, or the action of waves beating against a waterway's banks as a result of wakes created by ships and pleasure craft.

In the fall of 2000, the maritime industry implemented a voluntary speed-reduction measure for commercial vessels in the Montreal-Sorel area of the St. Lawrence. Along a stretch close to 25 km long in the Sorel-Varennes sector, the measure strongly encourages marine pilots to reduce their speed to a maximum of 10 knots. Since the voluntary measure came into effect, the marine industry has shown a very high level of compliance.

As part of the project, the speed of various vessels in these sensitive zones will be recorded monthly to monitor the voluntary measure.