Best practices in Quebec
We want to see whales, but not to the point of disturbing them. The best practices for watching marine mammals are part of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s Marine Mammal Regulations, which mention that it is forbidden to disturb a marine mammal in Canadian waters. These Regulations regulate marine mammal-watching activities throughout the country.
On water, on land or in the skies: all observers are concerned
These best practices aim to protect marine mammals in the St. Lawrence. They apply to all types of commercial and recreational craft including personal watercraft, kayaks and sailboats. They also apply to individuals scuba diving and to aircraft flying over the waters. On the water, this document establishes limits for distance, speed, angle of approach and boat concentration, and more specifically for species at risk and seal haulouts. On land, it indicates the proper conduct to adopt for observing seals at rest and in the presence of an injured seal.
These best practices are in force in all of the St. Lawrence outside of the Marine Park, where special regulations have been in effect since 2002: Marine Activities in the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park Regulations.
What responsibilities do whale research scientists have?
Fishing licences for scientific and educational purposes may be issued under Article 52 of the Fisheries (General) Regulations. These permits are issued with certain stipulations and allow approaches or types of work such as biopsies or photo-identification which would be difficult to conduct in normal observation conditions. Permit holders must fly the identification flag issued to them by the Ministry and, if they violate any of the conditions stipulated in their permits, they may be legally prosecuted.