Gros-Mécatina Migratory Bird Sanctuary

One of the two Îles aux Marmettes in the Gros-Mécatina Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Photo: Patrick Labonté © Environment and Climate Change Canada. One of the two Îles aux Marmettes in the Gros-Mécatina Migratory Bird Sanctuary.

The Gros Mécatina Migratory Bird Sanctuary (MBS) is located on the north shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, east of the village of La Tabatière, in the Gros Mécatina group of islands. This protected area is divided into three zones. The first zone contains two islands, collectively called Îles aux Marmettes, and a reef known as Rochers aux Marmettes. The other two zones encompass Île Plate and Île aux Trois Collines respectively. Coastal waters within a 1 km perimeter surrounding the islands, islets and reefs are also part of the MBS.

This 2168 hectare protected area was established in 1968 to protect essential seabird nesting sites. A portion of the sanctuary's terrestrial area consists almost entirely of rocky terrain, whereas the remainder is covered in vegetation. The latter part is comprised mostly of cranberry and cloudberry (also called salmonberry or yellowberry), as well as mosses and lichens that grow in abundance on the hilltops.

Importance of the Migratory Bird Sanctuary

The MBS provides important nesting grounds for many colonial birds. In the past, thousands of Common Murres would nest on the islands of this protected site. Illegal hunting, coupled with repeated egg collecting, has resulted in a marked decline in the number of birds observed in the sanctuary. Only 12 birds of this species were recorded throughout all the islands of the MBS in 2010. Occasionally, terns are the most common species found here, as in 2005, when 1800 of these birds were observed. Other species, like the Atlantic Puffin, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Herring Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, Great and Double-crested Cormorants may form small colonies of anywhere from a few dozen to a few hundred birds throughout the different islands of the MBS. Use of the site by these various seabirds confirms the importance of the sanctuary in this region of Quebec.

Access and Activities

MBSs are established for the protection and conservation of migratory birds. Activities that could harm migratory birds, their nests or their eggs are prohibited.

MBSs can be and have been established on private, provincial, territorial and federally owned lands. Access to each MBS varies by site and is at the discretion of the landowner and land manager.

Where MBSs are located on federal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the management and protection of migratory birds, nests, eggs and habitat. Where MBSs are located on provincial land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests, while the chief game officer of the province is responsible for the management of habitat. Where MBSs are located on private or municipal land, Environment and Climate Change Canada is responsible for the protection of migratory birds and their nests. Habitat management is the responsibility of the landowner.

The standard prohibitions under the Migratory Bird Sanctuary Regulations apply to Cap-Saint-Ignace MBS: hunting migratory birds is prohibited, and no person shall disturb, destroy or take the nest of a migratory bird or have in his or her possession a live migratory bird, or a carcass, skin, nest or egg of a migratory bird, except under the authority of a permit issued by Environment and Climate Change Canada or unless specifically authorized by the Regulations. Possession of firearms or other hunting appliances is prohibited, and dogs and cats must not be allowed to run at large.

For more information on entry, activities and permits in MBSs, please visit the Management and Activities section of the Migratory Bird Sanctuaries website. For more information on protected areas managed by Environment and Climate Change Canada in Quebec, please contact the regional office.

For greater certainty, nothing in this document shall be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from the protection provided for existing Aboriginal or treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada by the recognition and affirmation of those rights in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982.

Map of the Area

  • Map of Brador Bay Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Long description of the map

Map showing the location of Gros Mécatina Migratory Bird Sanctuary relative to Quebec, La Tabatière, Baie des Moutons, Île aux Trois Collines, Île du Gros Mécatina, Îles aux Marmettes, Île Buffitt, Île Plate and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The map shows the boundaries of the sanctuary, which covers Îles aux Marmettes, Île aux Trois Collines and Île Plate as well as a portions of the surrounding waters. The scale of the map is in kilometers.

This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Gros-Mécatina Migratory Bird Sanctuary can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.

Summary table

Summary table for Gros-Mécatina Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Category Information
Protected Area designation Migratory Bird Sanctuary
Province or territory Quebec
Latitude/longitude 50° 42' 30" N 58° 53' 02" W ; 50° 45' 15" N 58° 45' 22" W ; 50° 50' 17" N ; 58° 43' 46" W
Size in hectares (ha) 2168 ha
Date created (Gazetted) 1996
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) management category Ia - Strict Nature Reserve
Additional designations None
Main habitat type Rocky outcrops and tundra landscape
Key bird species Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Atlantic Puffin, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Murre, Common Tern and Arctic Tern
Listed species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA) None
Other species Plants: cranberry and cloudberry
Management agency Canadian Wildlife Service, Quebec Region

Contact Information

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas Unit
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
9250 - 49th Street
Québec, Quebec G1J 0C3
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
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