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Sustainable use: Examples of projects

Examples of projects

Research on use of the shipping channel by fish

Marine transportation of cargo is a major component of Quebec’s economy. To allow ships to navigate the St. Lawrence, a series of dams and locks were constructed along the river, and millions of cubic metres of sediment had to be dredged from the river bottom to create the shipping channel. All this construction permanently altered the various wildlife habitats along the St. Lawrence River.

Research vessel Lampsilis. Photo: Andrea Bertolo, Université du Québec à Trois-RivièresIn spite of the paucity of data, the shipping channel was long considered a biologically impoverished environment. This perception can be explained in part by the difficulty of safely sampling this portion of the St. Lawrence, where the current is strong and vessel traffic is heavy. Under the St. Lawrence Action Plan, Environment and Climate Change Canada, together with the Quebec Department of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, carried out research to gain a better understanding of the use of the channel by fish.

From 2007 to 2009, the research vessel Lampsilis, which belongs to the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, was used to explore a long stretch of the St. Lawrence shipping channel to learn more about its use and its importance in the life cycle of the fish species that inhabit the St. Lawrence River.

For comparison, three other types of habitat were also sampled:  channel slopes, deep natural trenches and shoreline. The results showed that the shipping channel is a habitat frequented by a diverse community of fish (27 species) which is distinct from the communities found in the other habitats studied. Lake sturgeon, walleye, sauger and channel catfish are among the species found in the channel.Different types of fish habitat in the St. Lawrence.

The results also show that the deep-water habitats are used by juveniles of several species, including lake sturgeon, channel catfish and American shad. This pioneering inventory of the fish community in the shipping channel raises the question of the coexistence of aquatic fauna and vessel traffic—an important issue for the St. Lawrence fisheries in the context of sustainable development of the shipping industry.

To find out more, see the fact sheetExternal link about this project on the SLAP website.


Government of Canada

  • Environment and Climate Change Canada

Government of Quebec

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

Earth observation technology and emergency preparedness

For several years now, thanks to collaboration with the Canadian Space Agency, Quebec and federal emergency preparedness authorities have used satellite data and other means to prevent ice jams.  More specifically, RADARSAT 2 images are used to plan interventions and manage ice problems in rivers in certain hydrographic regions..

RADARSAT 2 is a Canadian radar satellite that was developed through collaboration between the Government of Canada and industry and was launched in 2007. It is one of the most advanced Earth observation systems in the world. For more information, please visit the website of the Canadian Space AgencyExternal link.

Regional emergency preparedness advisers with the Quebec Department of Public Security (MSP) have had access to RADARSAT 2 images for several years. The imagery is delivered to the MSP by the Canadian Space Agency and processed by a geomatics team. The team uses an algorithm developed by the remote sensing laboratory of the Centre Eau Terre Environnement of the Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS) to process the satellite data and produce ice charts.

Example of an ice chart, Charny area, QuebecThe satellite images can be used to identify the type of ice present, frazil ice, ice ridges, ice jams and open-water leads. From this information, a snapshot of the situation along an entire watercourse can be obtained. The MSP covers most of the regions in Quebec, enabling it to analyze conditions in dozens of rivers affected by recurrent ice jams and flooding. This approach provides a more accurate assessment of the risk of flooding based on the presence of ice and open water, thereby helping to support emergency management operations and decision making by emergency preparedness and response authorities in the municipal government and at other levels of government.

The same RADARSAT-2 images can be used to evaluate the extent of flooding and thus produce more accurate maps of flood zones, as was done during the floods in the Montérégie region in 2011. As well, optical images from the Pleiades 1A and Pleiades 1B satellites were used to assess the progress of reconstruction work in downtown Lac-Mégantic, near the site of the train derailment that occurred in 2013. The operations perimeter and the impact radius of the accident were also determined using images from the DigitalGlobe satellite.

The ice charts and complementary information, as well as information on related products, can be accessed from the fact sheetExternal link about this project on the SLAP website.


Government of Quebec

  • Department of Public Security

Government of Canada

  • Canadian Space Agency