Quebec Minister for Forests, Wildlife and Parks Responds to Presidential Letter Regarding the St. Lawrence Beluga Whale

31 August, 2014

Mrs Marsh,

On behalf of the minister of Forests, Wildlife and Parks, we answer your letter underlining your concern about the threats to the St. Lawrence beluga whale population linked to the proposed Cacouna Harbour. Our government is effectively aware that this isolated population is threatened.

In Québec, beluga management is under the responsibility of the federal government and, as stated in your letter, the St. Lawrence beluga population is listed as threated under the Species at Risk Act (SC 2002, c.29). Furthermore, the government of Québec also acknowledges the precariousness of this population and has also listed as threated under the provincial Act respecting threatened or vulnerable species (CQLR, c. E-12.01; Loi sur les espéces menacées ou vulnérables).

In Québec, wildlife habitats of listed species can be protected by another provincial law, the Act respecting the Conservation and Development of Wildlife (CQLR, c. C-61.1; Loi sur la conservation et la mise en valeur de la faune) providing that the habitat characteristics are defined in the Regulation respecting threated or vulnerable wildlife species and their habitats (CQLR, c. E-12.01, r.2; Réglement sur les espéces fauniques menaceés ou vulnérables et leurs habitats). Considering that the St. Lawrence beluga habitat has not yet been defined in this last regulation, our Ministry has no legal power to intervene for this species within the framework of the proposed harbour in Cacouna.

However, the environmental impact and assessment framework of the Environment Quality Act (CQLR, c.Q-2; Loi sur la qualité de l’environement) allows our Ministry to emit a notice describing protection measures that should be respected to protect the species. During this process, we make sure to obtain the best information available and, in the case of the federally protected beluga population, we make sure to contact experts at the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Lastly, we have to underline that our Ministry is actively involved in the beluga Recovery Strategy, notably by his participation to the federal recovery team, and is also involved in the Québec Marine Mammal Emergency Response Network.

Please be assured that we support your concern for the St. Lawrence beluga population and that we are aware of all the efforts deployed to protect it.


Deputy minister associated with Wildlife and Parks,

Nathalie Camden

Édifice Boi-Fontaine, RC 120
880, chemin Sainte-Foy
Québec (Québec) G1S 4X4
Teléphone: 418-627-8658, poste 7285
Telécopier: 418-644-9727

Ottawa Prime Minister Responds to Presidential Letter Regarding Cacouna Harbour and Belugas

The Society for Marine Mammalogy received the following response from the Office of the Prime Minister in Ottawa regarding our June 17, 2014 Presidential Letter concerning Cacouna Harbor and the St. Lawrence beluga whale habitat

July 11, 2014

Dear Ms. Marsh:

I would like to acknowledge receipt of your correspondence of June 17 addressed to the Prime Minister regarding Cacouna Harbour and the St. Lawrence beluga whale habitat.

Please be assured that your commments, offered on behalf of the Society for Marine Mammalogy, have been carefully reviewed. I have taken the liberty of forwarding copies of your correspondence to the Honourable Lisa Raitt, Minister of Transport and the Honourable Gail Shea, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans. I am certain that the Ministers will appreciate being made aware of your views, and will wish to give them every consideration.

Thank you for writing to the Prime Minister.

Yours sincerely,

P. Monteith

View a PDF of this response to our Presidential Letter

Québec Premier Responds to Presidential Letter Regarding Cacouna Harbour and Belugas

The Society for Marine Mammalogy received the following response to our June 17, 2014 Presidential Letter concerning Cacouna Harbour and the St. Lawrence River beluga whales from the Premier of Québec:

June 23, 2014

Dear Ms. Marsh:

On behalf of the Premier of Québec, Mr. Philippe Couillard, I acknowledge receipt of your email dated June 17, 2014 concerning Cacouna Harbour terminal project which involves construction of facilities for the export of crude oil in tankers that would travel into and out of the St. Lawrence River estuary. Thank you for taking the time to write.

Rest assured that we have taken your comments into account. The matter is now in the hands of the Mr. David Heurtel, minister of Sustainable Development, Environment and the Fight against Climate Change to address the question appropriately.

Sincerely yours,

Vanessa Gosselin
Political attachée

View the Letter as a PDF

Response to Presidential Letter Regarding Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphins

The Society received the following response to its Presidential Letter regarding the Don Sahong Dam and the future of river dolphins, including the critically endangered Mekong population of Irrawaddy dolphins from David B. Shear, U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam on June 4, 2014:

Dear Ms. Marsh:

Thank you for your letter dated May 14, 2014. In response to your letter, I wanted to assure you that the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi and the United States Government as a whole are focused on the conservation of marine mammals in Southeast Asia, and particularly the freshwater dolphins of the Mekong River.

With our colleagues throughout the United States Government, we have engaged in policy advocacy and technical capacity building to encourage the coutnries of the Mekong to consider the potential ecological impacts of hydropower adn other water infrastructure projects in the Mekong Basin.

The efforts of your organization play a critical role in our policy goals to protect these animals, and I want to take this opportunity to thank you and The Socity for Marine Mammalogy for your hard work on this issue. We look forward to workign with you on our shared goal in the future!


David B. Shear

View the response as a PDF

Response to letter to President Nieto Regarding the Vaquita

The following is a response to my letter addressed to the President of Mexico, Mr. Enrique Pena Nieto, in which I asked for the Mexican government to use alternative fishing tools for the artisan netting fishing overlapping the distribution of the Vaquita.

Mazatlán, Sinaloa, May 21th 2013.

I refer to your attentive letter unnumbered, dated on March 4 of the current year, recently received in this General Administrative Office of Management of Aquaculture and Fisheries, by which you requests us to report on the extent of the area where the alternative fishing net designed by the National Fisheries Institute will be mandatory for the shrimp fishery, as well as the date on which regulation come into force.
In this regard, I comment you that the public consultation period for the Amendment to the Mexican Official Standard NOM-002-PESC 1993 ended on April 23rd. This NOM regulates the shrimp fishery, and considers the implementation of this alternative fishing gear, without limiting the possibilities to allow other gear whose efficiency and selectivity would to be previously evaluated by the National Fisheries Institute.
Note that during in the public consultation period, 716 comments were received, all questioning the use of the prototype fishing gear and only one proposal to amend the Official Standard to authorize the use of the alternative fishing net in another region of the country. In the near future we will have to decide whether is it advisable to implement the use of such active fishing gear for the shrimp fishery in the Upper Gulf of California and Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve, except in the vaquita refuge zone where fishing activities are not allowed
The results of the consultation will be made known to the public through the publication of regulatory instrument in the Official Gazette of the Federation, which we hope to do in next July and will to go into effect 60 days after its publication.
With no further ado, I take the chance to send you my warm regards,


Aldo Gerardo Padilla Pestano,
General Director and Coordinator of the Subcommittee for Responsible Fishing.