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Marine Activities Regulations

The regulations govern activities at sea in order to protect marine mammals, including species at risk such as the beluga and the blue whale.

Please take note that if you are traveling with your boat within the boundaries of the Marine Park, you are responsible for knowing and respecting the Regulations.

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.

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Within the limits of the Marine Park.

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From May 1 to October 31
In the mouth of the Saguenay between buoys S7 and S8 and the ferries.

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Within half a nautical mile of a beluga whale, an endangered species, continue moving along while maintaining a steady speed of 5 to 10 knots.

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.

Approach speed (within 400 and 200metres): minimum speed required to manoeuver.

Put the motor in neutral if a whale other than a beluga whale comes within 200 metres of the boat until the whale is 200 metres away or until it dives towards the sea bed.

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.

 

Speed and distance conversion chart

5 knots = 9.26 km/h = 5.75 m/h
10 knots = 18.52  km/h = 11.50 m/h
15 knots = 27.78 km/h = 17.26 m/h
25 knots = 46.30 km/h = 28.77 m/h

Speed must be measured over the bottom

DISTANCES TO BE RESPECTED

400

metres

For endangered or threatened marine mammals such as the beluga whale and the blue whale.

200

metres

A whale that is not endangered or threatened.

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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, and less than 400 metres if it is an endangered or threatened marine mammal.

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It is forbidden to use the action of wind, waves or current to approach within less than the specified distances.

1/2 nautical mile = 926 metres

Prohibited activities

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To use personal watercraft (jet skis) or to use a hovercraft.

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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.

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The use of drones for recreational purposes above the boundaries of the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park.

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To practice a nautical traction sport or to offer a commercial service related to migratory bird hunting.

The use of an aircraft for scientific research, education or promotion is licensed. Please refer to the permit for special activities in the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park.

Disturbance

It is prohibited to disturb, injure or kill a marine mammal.

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.

Sainte-Marguerite Bay

Temporary exclusion area

Area closure at Baie Sainte-Marguerite

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.

How to navigate near Sainte-Marguerite Bay?

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.

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Kayak

Motor boat

Sail boat

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Watercraft are prohibited in the bay between Cap Nord-Ouest and Cap Sainte-Marguerite. To travel from one cape to the other, by kayak or canoe, follow the designated corridor along the coast.

Even if you cannot see any belugas, travel, without stopping, within 10 metres of the shoreline and remain in shallow areas.

When in the presence of belugas, continue paddling until you have put at least 400 metres between you and them.

Since distance can be hard to judge, we recommend that you move away until you can no longer see them.

Every action counts to help protect the belugas.

Watercraft are prohibited in the bay between Cap Nord-Ouest and Sainte-Marguerite Bay.

Even if you cannot see any belugas, choose a heading that keeps a distance between your boat and the bay. We recommend that you maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph).

When in the presence of belugas, move away to a distance of at least 400 metres.

Maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph) until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

Every action counts to help protect the belugas.

Show you care, keep your distance!

Watercraft are prohibited in the bay between Cap Nord-Ouest and Cap Sainte-Marguerite.

If you are sailing downwind, you can follow these routes. If you are sailing upwind, we recommend that you follow this route.

Even if you cannot see any belugas, we recommend that you maintain a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph).

When in the presence of belugas, move away to a distance of at least 400 metres.

Maintain a speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph) until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

Every action counts to help protect the belugas.

Show you care, keep your distance!

Show you care, keep your distance!

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With summer boating in full swing, Parks Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada have joined forces to launch the “Show you care, keep your distance” awareness campaign to inform boaters and kayakers about navigation rules in the presence of the endangered St. Lawrence beluga whale population.

The Marine Activities in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations provide a framework for activities in the marine protected area.

Throughout the St. Lawrence Estuary, the Marine Mammal Regulations protect whales, including belugas, with respect to disturbance and minimum approach distances.

While navigating on the St. Lawrence or the Saguenay, you may encounter beluga whales. Your presence in their habitat can attract their attention and reduce the amount of time they spend looking after their young, feeding, and resting. Belugas need space and a peaceful environment.

What should I do?

I’m taken by surprise when belugas appear around me.

Choose a heading that will take you at least 400 metres from the belugas.

Motor boat or sail boat

  • Adjust your speed to between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph).
  • Keep a constant speed until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

Kayak 

  • Do not stop.
  • Stay in your group and keep paddling.
  • Move away until you can no longer see them.

There are belugas ahead.

When in the presence of belugas, change direction to go around them while maintaining a distance of at least 400 metres.

Motor boat or sail boat

  • Move away while maintaining a constant speed between 5 and 10 knots (6–12 mph).
  • Keep this speed until you are at least half a nautical mile (926 metres) from the belugas.

Kayak

  • Stay in your group and keep paddling.
  • Move away until you can no longer see them.
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Boaters and kayakers who navigate the St. Lawrence and Saguenay Fjord are in whale habitat. The Navigating Whale Habitat course provides all the information you need to navigate in a whale-friendly manner.

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