Overview of the State of the St. Lawrence
The State of the St. Lawrence Monitoring Program was established in 2003 under the Canada–Quebec Agreement on the St. Lawrence River. Since then, program partners have been pooling their expertise to report regularly on the state of the St. Lawrence and how it is changing. The results from environmental indicator monitoring are made available through the distribution of a series of fact sheets, the holding of the triennial Rendez-vous St. Lawrence event and the publication of a five-year global portrait.
In 2014, the working group adopted a more visual approach to present its findings. Symbols are now used to illustrate each indicator and conceptual diagrams are designed to integrate information. In 2014, the river’s bill of health presented a fragile balance. Most indicators remain moderate. Following the reintroduction of the Striped Bass, we are seeing significant progress in the natural reproduction, growth and distribution of this species in the river. Overall, however, the St. Lawrence remains relatively vulnerable. The Beluga Whale and Northern Gannet populations have experienced significant degradation. Several changes have been observed in the ecosystem of the upper estuary, the lower estuary, and the Gulf.
The St. Lawrence is doing well and its quality shows a positive trend, with improvement over time. In fact, a summary of the results of the monitoring indicators for the 2013-2017 period (2019 Overview) provides an overall assessment of “moderate-good,” which represents an improvement compared with the previous Overviews. Findings concerning water and sediment quality in the St. Lawrence differ from one sector to another. Significant improvements were observed for several indicators of biological resources being monitored. Finally, despite several indicators improving, the state of the Beluga’s population remains a concern as it continues to decline. The situation is unchanged for the indicators related to invasive plant and animal species; it therefore remains a concern, for all of the St. Lawrence.