The Saguenay Port Authority veint publish an opinion letter concernation conciliation between commercial versus naviguation protecting endangered species. This letter is in response to numerous media outlets regarding the future of the beluga. We invite you to read it.
Port of Saguenay opinion letter
This is to take stock of the recent recommendation of the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) on the level of protection of the beluga and its potential effects on navigation on the Saguenay, as well as actions that are currently undertaken by the Saguenay Port Authority (Port Saguenay) to clarify the situation in order to ensure the sustainability of boating activities on the Saguenay, both for current and future users.
Thus, following the recent announcement of COSEWIC to recommend to get the St. Lawrence beluga status “species at risk” to “endangered species”, we have assisted to a series of publications in the media leaving point to a threat to shipping on the Saguenay. Regional stakeholders are then quickly positioned to appeal to the mobilization of regional business community and the general population. As the only public port in the region, the Saguenay Port certainly has an important role to play in this debate. But we do not believe it is advisable to attend a polarization of views in the community and to come to a clash between “environmentalists” and users may only make losers throughout our region .dropoff window
Protecting the St. Lawrence beluga and other aquatic species in the Saguenay reports directly to the Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) under the federal Species at Risk. This is the title that Minister has the power to change the status of a particular species, on the recommendation of COSEWIC. The status of the St. Lawrence beluga has not changed automatically following the recommendation of the committee.
Furthermore, following its endangered species designation in 2005, DFO released in 2012 Beluga Recovery Program (Delphinapterus leucas) population of the Gulf of St. Lawrence in Canada. This document, which is public and available on the Internet, provided a lot of information on the species and on the measures proposed to reinstate it. The action plan proposed in the document must be monitored and will be enhanced over time to the rhythm of improving knowledge. Belugas in the St. Lawrence is therefore subject for close to 10 years of a very high level of protection. You will also notice in the paper that the Saguenay actually represents only a small portion of the land designated as “critical habitat” for beluga, which is found mostly in the St. Lawrence River where the maritime industry is much more intense in the Saguenay. At no time in this paper it is suggested to stop browsing the Saguenay and the St. Lawrence activity also includes much more than the passage of large commercial vessels, but also boaters, ferries, icebreakers, Tour ships, research vessels, fishing boats, etc.
We believe that the first actions to be taken in this case is to ensure that all current and future users and the general public are adequately informed about the actual situation of the beluga and navigation on the Saguenay by bodies officially responsible for its protection. To do so we intend in the near future to involve different government agencies with knowledge of the matter, and having a role to play, as well as various research institutions as well as experts navigation.
The Port of Saguenay also like to mention that it will, as it always has, that all projects which it is associated are the subject of the required studies on the community and the environment, including in particular the marine fauna and flora. All this so that they respect the laws and regulations and meet the highest standards in the field.
Browsing the Saguenay was the basis for the development of the region and is still today one of its main advantages. We also believe that the future development of our economy goes through the maintenance and development of maritime activity in the Saguenay and St. Lawrence.
Thus, we believe that it is possible to properly balance the commercial navigation on the Saguenay and the protection of aquatic species, communities and the environment in general.