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Ecosystem Research Initiative (ERI) in the St. Lawrence Estuary, eastern Canada: Testing an approach for science support to ecosystem-based management.

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Presentation on theme: "Ecosystem Research Initiative (ERI) in the St. Lawrence Estuary, eastern Canada: Testing an approach for science support to ecosystem-based management."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ecosystem Research Initiative (ERI) in the St. Lawrence Estuary, eastern Canada: Testing an approach for science support to ecosystem-based management Claude Savenkoff, Jacques A. Gagné, Peter Galbraith, Jean-François Gosselin, Richard Larocque, Michel Lebeuf, Patrick Ouellet, and Michel Gilbert (Biarritz, October 18-21, 2011)

2 Outline of the Presentation Canadian national context for Ecosystem Research Initiatives (ERI) The Lower St. Lawrence Estuary: –Main characteristics –Human activities and related pressures Development and implementation of the ERI –Operational framework in 3 steps

3 Strait of Georgia (B. C.) / Détroit de Georgie (C.-B.) Beaufort Sea Shelf (N.W. T.) / Mer de Beaufort (Terr. du N.-O.) Placentia Bay (Newfoundland) / Grands Bancs (Terre-Neuve) Northumberland Strait (N. -B.) / Détroit de Northumberland (N.-B.) Gulf of Maine (N.-E.) / Golfe du Maine (N.-É.) Lower St. Lawrence Estuary (Qc) / Estuaire du Saint-Laurent (Qc) 7 Lake Ontario (C. A. R.) / Lac Ontario (R. C. A.) Canadian National Context for Ecosystem Research Initiatives (ERIs)

4 ERI Gulf of St. Lawrence River Lower Estuary The Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence system is one of the largest estuarine ecosystems in Canada and in the world (240 000 km 2 ) Lower St. Lawrence Estuary: Elongated channel with an average length, width, and depth of 200 km, 40 km, and 300 m, respectively Seasonal ice cover and vertically stratified water column in 3 layers (except Winter: 2 layers) Hypoxia in the deep waters (18-25% saturation or 65 µmol O2 L -1 at depth >250 m) Freshwater from the St. Lawrence River and other rivers (between 15,000 and 20,000 m 3 /s). The St. Lawrence Estuary: Main features

5 One of ten ecologically and biologically significant areas (EBSA) within the Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence marine ecosystem Intense tidally-induced mixing between freshwater and saltwater: upwelling at the head of the Laurentian Channel (nutrient pump) High phytoplankton and zooplankton production as well as zooplankton aggregation High concentrations of juvenile Greenland halibut, witch flounder and thorny skate (believed to be important area for the recruitment of these species) Significant area for marine mammals, especially baleen whales (feeding) and the St. Lawrence Beluga (entire life cycle)

6 Wide variety of human uses and related stressors (local accumulation of contaminants, increasing hypoxic conditions in deep waters, marine mammal disturbance from intense navigation, freshwater input modulations related to hydroelectric development, etc.) Information needed for integrated management and decision making, including one marine park and two anticipated marine protected areas (MPAs) General objective of the St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: To develop an operational framework for the coordination of existing and new projects to address several issues related to impacts of human activities on biological and ecological processes in the system in an integrative manner (application of the ecosystem approach) St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: Human activities and related pressures

7 St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: Operational framework in 3 steps INTERNAL CLIENTS Oceans management Habitat management Fisheries management Canadian coast guard Sustainable aquaculture Species at risk EXTERNAL CLIENTS Industry (fisheries, aquaculture, energy, etc.) Other federal departments Provinces NGOs ISSUES / QUESTIONS ERI 1.Planning workshops with scientists and internal/external clients and stakeholders: To identify and agree upon common key priority issues

8 Step 1. Planning workshops to identify and agree upon common key priority issues

9 Forage species and blue whales St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: Consensus on two priorities Habitats of the St. Lawrence beluga population

10 INTERNAL CLIENTS Oceans management Habitat management Fisheries management Canadian coast guard Sustainable aquaculture Species at risk EXTERNAL CLIENTS Industry (fisheries, aquaculture, energy, etc.) Other federal departments Provinces NGOs ISSUES / QUESTIONS SCIENTIFIC PLANNING MONITORINGRESEARCH ERI St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: Operational framework in 3 steps 2.Development of a scientific research and monitoring program (2008-2011) including existing and new projects in support of the two issues addressed

11 Establishment of two committees: Call for project proposals addressing the two priorities to initiate the scientific research and monitoring program Assessment of proposals based on the two priorities: 1.Description of each component (beluga: habitat characteristics; blue whale: structure, abundance, and distribution of pelagic communities) 2.Identification of environmental factors/processes influencing the targeted component, its quality, or seasonal distribution (trophic interactions, physical structures, etc.) 3.Assessment of human activity impacts on the component itself and/or processes that govern its structure and functions Step 2. Scientific research and monitoring program

12 –12-16 projects (funding envelope 200K$) –Integration of existing research projects and ongoing monitoring programs relevant to the ERIs objectives Leverage budget (increase: 117% in 2008-09, 211% in 2009-2010) To join efforts in designing and reevaluate sampling programs –Annual workshops and planning meetings to make sure that the ERI objectives and gaps are properly addressed To share and jointly analyse databases, discuss preliminary results, and agree on operational plans for the next sampling season Step 2. Scientific research and monitoring program

13 SCIENTIFIC PLANNING INTERNAL CLIENTS Oceans management Habitat management Fisheries management Canadian coast guard Sustainable aquaculture Species at risk EXTERNAL CLIENTS Industry (fisheries, aquaculture, energy, etc.) Other federal departments Provinces NGOs MONITORING ISSUES / QUESTIONS RESEARCH ERI INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT SCIENTIFIC ADVICE INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT Integration of knowledge on the targeted ecosystem component, its ecosystemic iteractions and vulnerability to human activities SCIENTIFIC ISSUES AND GAPS 3.Integrated scientific assessments and peer-reviewed scientific advices St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: Operational framework in 3 steps

14 –Integrated scientific assessments: 5 day meeting where working research documents based on results relevant were presented by individual scientists and critically reviewed (March 2011) Peer-Review Process (Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat) Step 3. Scientific assessment and provision of advices

15 St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: Example of results – Scientific Advices (in working progress): Integrate conclusions of peer-review meeting into responses to management questions raised at the onset of the ERI Also identify future scientific gaps in relation to the issues being addressed or new questions emerging from the results 1.Poster: Trophic interactions in the St. Lawrence Estuary: Everybody wants krill 2.Oral: Intermittent connectivity: Interannual variability in the retention of larval capelin (Mallotus villosus) in the St. Lawrence maritime estuary, Canada (P. Ouellet) 3.Poster: Monitoring toxic chemicals in sediments – a case study of the habitat of the St Lawrence beluga (M. Lebeuf)

16 SCIENTIFIC PLANNING INTERNAL CLIENTS Oceans management Habitat management Fisheries management Canadian coast guard Sustainable aquaculture Species at risk EXTERNAL CLIENTS Industry (fisheries, aquaculture, energy, etc.) Other federal departments Provinces NGOs MONITORING ISSUES / QUESTIONS RESEARCH ERI INTEGRATED MANAGEMENT SCIENTIFIC ADVICE INTEGRATED ASSESSMENT Integration of knowledge on the targeted ecosystem component, its ecosystemic iteractions and vulnerability to human activities SCIENTIFIC ISSUES AND GAPS St. Lawrence Estuary ERI: Next steps STATUS OF THE ECOSYSTEM Integration of knowledge on ecosystem structure and functioning, its status trends and impacts of human activities Periodical assessments (5-7 years) to provide advice at the scale of whole ecosystem (Estuary and Gulf of St. Lawrence)

17 –Use results and outcomes of the St. Lawrence Estuary ERI to test the adequacy of the operational framework for an Ecosystem Approach in the scientific support to fisheries and/or ecosystem-based management with similar initiatives in Canada and elsewhere in the world (comparisons) Collaboration IFREMER-MPO sur la thématique de lApproche Écosystémique / IFREMER-DFO collaboration under the Ecosystem Approach Theme 2009-2011


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