Did you know?
SLGO is the first integrated ocean observing system in Canada.
Fisheries managers have always collaborated with fishermen to study the ecology and dynamics of fish communities. In the St. Lawrence, Dr. Vadim D. Vladykov recognized the value of information resulting from the fixed-gear fisheries along the shore and established, between 1944 and 1960, the monitoring of daily fish catches at a commercial weir fishery operated by Arthur Matte at Neuville on the north shore. These data were carefully archived at the Aquarium du Québec. The Aquarium du Québec opened in 1959, and an experimental weir fishery became operational in 1961. From 1961 to 1970, the fishery was operated sporadically (Centre Saint-Laurent, 1996) and was used to renew native specimens in the Aquarium’s collection. It was only from 1971 that the same gear was set at the same location in Saint-Nicolas (Figure 1), and a series of systematic observations were carried out from spring to fall each year until 2014.
Figure 1: Location and photograph of the Aquarium du Québec’s fishing gear at Saint-Nicolas
Source: Yves de Lafontaine
At the inception of the St. Lawrence Action Plan, which is a federal–provincial agreement signed in 1988, data that had been collected at the Aquarium’s experimental fishery constituted the longest time series on fish communities in eastern Canada, along with statistics from commercial fisheries (Bernier et al., 1996). Hence, the experimental fishery was proposed as a reference site as part of the quinquennial Fish Monitoring Network (FMN) launched in 1995 and operated by the ministère de l’Environnement et de la Faune (which became the ministère des Forêts de la Faune et des Parcs, MFFP) and by Environment Canada’s Centre Saint-Laurent (which became Environment and Climate Change Canada).
In 1996, a first database was created at the Centre Saint-Laurent. Over the years, it was improved by many new tools, additions, updates and validations, and the relational database, which was developed using Microsoft ACCESS, contains information on daily fish catches between 15 May and 31 October from 1975 to 2014 (Lacroix and de Lafontaine, 2004).
In 2017, a partnership between the Aquarium du Québec and Fisheries and Oceans Canada allowed a complete validation of the database and generated products available on the web application of the St. Lawrence Global Observatory. In addition, a time series of annual catches from 1971 to 1974 was included for the Saint-Nicolas station and two more historic time series of daily catches were included from the nearby sites of Neuville (1944–1957) and Saint-Romuald (1962).
Like a sentinel of the St. Lawrence River, the fishery permitted the identification and monitoring of different environmental issues particular to the fluvial ecosystem. These studies led to many scientific publications:
The Aquarium du Québec is grateful to the numerous partners and collaborators who enabled it to maintain these operations over the years: