Weather forecasts Tides Visitor's guide

Protect

The Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park protects every living organism found in it, from the seabed to the surface of the water. Species at risk like the St. Lawrence population of beluga whales and the blue whale roam its waters. See how the park protects its biodiversity.

Several measures are in place so that together we can make a difference.

MARINE ACTIVITIES REGULATIONS

The regulations govern activities at sea within the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park in order to protect marine mammals, including species at risk such as the beluga and the blue whale.

Regardless of your type of craft (boat, sailboat, kayak, stand-up paddleboard, etc.) or activity (diving, fishing, swimming, etc.), you are responsible for knowing and following the Regulations.

How to navigate without disturbing?

While navigating in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park, you are in the marine mammals habitat.

When a marine mammal approaches or is close to you, your presence can disturb and cause the animal to change its normal behaviours. He might stop feeding, resting, taking care of its young, or change its diving rhythm to breathe.

At all times and regardless of the type of craft, it is prohibited to disturb marine mammals. Disturb means:

  • Feed or touch any marine mammal;
  • Go into the water to swim or interact with marine mammals;
  • Under the water, to play the calls or cries of the whales or create any other noise that resembles them;
  • Separate a group of marine mammals or go between an adult and her calf. A calf is a baby whale measuring no more than half the size of an adult.
  • Encircle a whale, or a group of whales, between a boat and the coast or between several boats;
  • Interrupt, modify or disrupt normal social, swimming, breathing diving, resting, feeding, nursing, reproduction behaviour.
Give whales the right of way.
Give whales the right of way.

What to do when you encounter endangered species?

The endangered species that regularly visit the marine park are the beluga and the blue whale. Rarely, North Atlantic Right Whale may also come to the marine park, this is also an endangered species.

If you are within 400 metres of an endangered species: you are in violation. What to do?

  • Stay on course
    Get more than 400 metres* away from it

 

* 400 metres equals 4 football fields.

Pictogramme rectangulaire illustrant les 3 espèces en voie de disparition qui fréquentent le parc marin et le texte 400 mètres qui représente la distance à conserver entre ces baleines et une embarcation.

What to do when you encounter beluga whales?

On a motorboat or sailboat

When navigating within half of a nautical mile from a beluga whale:

  • Maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots
  • Maintain a minimum distance of 400 m
  • Do not stop and stay on course

On a kayak or stand-up paddle board

Within 400 m: you are in violation. What to do?

  • Keep paddling and stay on course
  • Move away until you can’t see them anymore
  • If you are unable to outrun them, move closer to the coast
Illustration d'un horodateur de bateau à moteur. Une zone en vert est identifiée entre 5 et 10 noeuds pour représenter la vitesse à conserver à proximité d'un groupe de béluga lorsqu'une embarcation navigue dans le parc marin.

What to do when you encounter other species?

If you are within 200 metres of another species than endangered species: you are in a violation. What to do?

  • Remain motionless until the whale dives or is more than 200 m away, then move away.

 

If you are between 200 m and 400 m:

  • stay on course and maintain minimum manoeuvrability speed.
  • It is prohibited to repeatedly stop, start or change direction

 

*200 metres equal 2 football fields.

Pictogramme carré de signalisation qui indique la distance de 200 mètres à conserver en tout temps en navigant dans le parc marin.

Observation zone

An observation zone of a ½ nautical mile is created around any boat engaged in whale watching. An observation sector consists of two or more contiguous or overlapping observation zones.

  • The observation mode is in effect when an approach is made within 400 metres of a whale in order to observe it.
  • In the zone, the maximum speed is 10 knots in order to protect the whales.
  • A boat must not remain in an observation zone or sector for more than one hour.
  • A boat must wait at least one hour before returning to the same observation zone or sector.
zone observation-v3

Speed limits

  • Within the marine park’s limits, the maximum speed is 25 knots.
  • At the mouth of the Saguenay, from May 1 to October 31, the maximum speed is 15 knots.
  • In front of Sainte-Marguerite Bay, it is strongly recommended to keep a speed between 5 knots and 10 knots.

Conversion chart* :

  • 5 knots = 9,26 km/h = 5,75 mph
  • 10 knots = 18,52 km/h = 11,50 mph
  • 15 knots = 27,78 km/h = 17,26 mph
  • 25 knots = 46,30 km/h = 28,77 mph

*Speeds are measured relative to the sea bed.

Carte de l'embouchure de la rivière Saguenay illustrant la zone 15 noeuds du 1er mai au 31 octobre.

Prohibited activities within the Marine Park

Within the boundaries of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, it is prohibited to:

  • get into the path of a whale in such a way that it passes within less than 200 metres of the boat (400 metres if it is an endangered or threatened marine mammal);
  • use the action of wind, waves or current to approach within less than the specified distances;
  • To use personal watercraft (jet skis) or to use a hovercraft;
  • To fly over the park at an altitude of less than 609.6 metres (2,000 ft), and to land in or take off from the park in an aircraft unless you are the holder of a special events permit;
  • The use of drones for recreational purposes;
  • To practice a nautical traction sport;
  • offer a commercial service related to migratory bird hunting.
Pictogramme d'un rond rouge représentant l'interdiction d'utiliser un drone dans le parc marin.
Drones au-dessus de l'eau.
Pictogramme d'un rond rouge représentant l'interdiction de naviguer avec une motomarine dans le parc marin.
Motomarine.
Pictogramme d'un rond rouge représentant l'interdiction de pratiquer un sport de traction motorisé dans le parc marin.
Sports de traction motorisés.

In the event of a discrepancy, the text of the Marine Activities in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations shall prevail over the information provided on this page.

Outside the boundaries of the marine park on the St. Lawrence River, the Marine Mammal Regulations apply.

Bélugas du Saint-Laurent vus à la surface.

Sainte-Marguerite Bay

Located in the heart of the Saguenay Fjord, Sainte-Marguerite Bay is a place where beluga whales give birth. Your presence can attract their attention and reduce the amount of time they spend looking after their young, feeding, and resting. For their sake, this area is protected to ensure a peaceful environment.

Carte représentant le secteur de la baie Sainte-Marguerite dans le fjord du Saguenay.

Restricted zone

From June 21 to September 21, it is forbidden for boats to enter Sainte-Marguerite Bay of the Saguenay Fjord . Special authorizations are granted only for kayaks, canoes and recreational fishermen who must travel without stopping along a corridor within 10 metres of the shore in shallow areas.

Transit zone

It is therefore strongly recommended at all times to navigate the indicated transit zone in front of the bay, between 5 and 10 knots without stopping.

See how to navigate around Sainte-Marguerite Bay with these videos.

It is possible to observe the belugas that frequent Sainte-Marguerite Bay from the shore by visiting this sector of the parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay. A member of the Marine Park Discovery Network.

logo

Are you ready to navigate?

Get your answer by completing the Navigating Whale Habitat training course.

It’s free, quick and tailored to your type of craft.