St. Lawrence Marine Multistressors Platform-Context

Context

The vast ecosystem of the St. Lawrence has acted and continues to act as a crucial economic vector for eastern Canada. An increasing interest is also expressed toward it, so that major investments in research and economic and social development have already been deployed. It is now obvious that the predicted increase in human footprint, combined with global changes, imposes the use of a systematic planning approach for the use of marine resources in this precious ecosystem. The tools and mechanisms allowing this type of approach require a national data sharing capacity as well as a standardization of environmental stressor monitoring at the St. Lawrence scale. We are therefore proposing the institution of an open source platform focusing on describing environmental stressors for the estuary and gulf of St. Lawrence.

In collaboration with the St. Lawrence Global Observatory, this platform project seeks to provide a spatial description of stressors observed in the St. Lawrence (see stressors list), to initiate a community project based on transparency, inclusivity and adaptiveness, and to promote existing environmental monitoring programs while identifying key gaps in stressors description. This platform project has previously been presented in a perspective article on the evaluation of cumulative impacts and the systematic planning of resource use in the St. Lawrence.

Objectives

The proposed platform has the following objectives:

  • Create a unifying and inclusive project within the scientific community
  • Create a multi-stressors open source platform
  • Identify essential stressor variables (ESV) to standardize stressor description
  • Describe the spatial distribution and the intensity of stressors
  • Consolidate and promote existing environmental monitoring initiatives
  • Identify key gaps in knowledge for environmental monitoring
  • Create an adaptive platform
  • Adopt an open and transparent approach
  • Monitor temporal trends in stressor distribution and intensity

Above all, creating a unifying project

This initiative seeks to create a unifying project allowing the development of a significant collaborative capacity between academic, governmental and private sectors in an attempt to evaluate environmental stressors observed in the St. Lawrence. As such, we are inviting any individual or organization interesting in collaborating with this project to contact us directly. We also warmly invite anyone wishing to comment, share data or suggest alternative methodological approaches to contact us.

Creating a multi-stressors open source platform

Data accessibility and availability is typically a major restrictive challenge for anyone attempting to evaluate the state of a natural system. This initiative will enable easy access to crucial information in evaluating the presence and intensity of multiple stressors in the St. Lawrence.

Towards the identification of environmental stress indicators

Identifying essential stressor variables (ESV) will favour the priorization, the optimization and the standardization of deployed management efforts by allowing the use of variables that efficiently capture the effects of environmental stressors.

A platform consolidating and promoting existing initiatives

This multi-stressors platform will consolidate and promote precious environmental monitoring programs within an initiative seeking the systematic monitoring of the St. Lawrence. Multiple data sources describing St. Lawrence stressors are already partially or entirely available on the SLGO web portal. Those will be judiciously used within the multi-stressors platform.

Identification of key knowledge gaps

This project will identify key knowledge gaps in order to eventually allow an exhaustive evaluation of stressors observed in the St. Lawrence. The identification of essential stressor variables will also target needed monitoring programs.

The creation of an adaptive platform

This platform seeks to adopt an adaptive approach that allows the integration of new data, methodologies and collaborators through time. This will guarantee the creation of a tool in constant evolution. The adaptive approach will also allow the platform to remain representative of methodological progress, increased data availability and of the improved general knowledge on the St. Lawrence and of the stressors affecting it.

Adopting an open and transparent approach

To guarantee complete openness and transparency, the entirety of the material used to describe stressors (e.g. data, code, methodologies and indicators) will be available on the platform. This material will also be submitted to a review-like process to guarantee the quality and robustness of the description of stressors in the St. Lawrence.

Monitoring the temporal trends in stressor distribution and intensity

This platform will be used to evaluate the annual trends in stressors intensity and distribution observed in the St. Lawrence.