Creation of a Conservation Sector in the Upper Estuary

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Creation of a Conservation Sector in the Upper Estuary

In summer, about a quarter of the St. Lawrence beluga population resides in the portion of the Marine Park that lies in the Upper Estuary off the coasts of Charlevoix. With its shallower, warmer waters and abundant prey, this part of the Marine Park is heavily used by female belugas and their young.

Since 2019, a conservation sector protects 44% of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park by excluding commercial whale-watching trips.

A Joint Decision

Since 2015, no company has regularly offered tours in the sector. The proposal to put a definitive end to commercial whale-watching trips in the Upper Estuary was reviewed in collaboration with the companies that operate such excursions. The boundaries of the area were defined together with relevant stakeholders.

This portion of the marine protected area meets a number of criteria for the establishment of a conservation zone. Establishing a conservation sector will help ensure a calmer environment for the target species. This initiative is consistent with the marine protected area’s vision for sustainable use as well as its conservation objectives.


Since 2019, the Upper Estuary Conservation Area has been off-limits to commercial whale-watching trips. This is an official condition in the operating permit required to offer this activity in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park.

The creation of this conservation area enhances the level of protection in 21% of the beluga’s critical habitat, as defined in the beluga recovery plan. The Marine Park covers 36.6% of the species’ critical habitat.

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