Estuary Islands National Wildlife Area Management Plan (proposed)

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This management plan was developed by Benoît Roberge of the Canadian Wildlife Service of Environment Canada. Thanks are extended to Canadian Wildlife Service employees who were involved in the development or review of the document: Luc Bélanger, Marielou Verge, Olaf Jensen, Renée Langevin, Matthieu Allard, Martine Benoit, Benoît Jobin, Jean François Rail, Stéphanie Gagnon, Josée Tardif, Christine Lepage, Diane Dauphin and Francine Rousseau. Special thanks are addressed to Christiane Foley for her input in this project and to Jean Bédard and Kim Marineau for their work on the initial drafts. The Canadian Wildlife Service would also like to thank Jean Bédard, Jean-François Giroux, Jean Huot, Cindy Garneau and Yvon Mercier from the Société Duvetor Ltée, Marc Lapointe from the Société protectrice des eiders de l’estuaire as well as Florence Parcoret and Jessie Moreau from the Essipit Innu First Nation Council who agreed to comment on this document.

Copies of this plan are available at the following addresses:

Environment Canada
Inquiry Centre
10 Wellington Street, 23rd Floor
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Telephone: 819-997-2800
Toll free number: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Fax: 819-994-1412
Teletypewriter: 819-994-0736
Email: Environment Canada - Canadian Wildlife Service
Quebec Region
801-1550 D’Estimauville Avenue
Québec QC G1J 0C3
Website at Environment Canada Protected Areas

How to cite this document:
Environment Canada. 2014. Management Plan for the Estuary Islands National Wildlife Area. Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service, Québec, 55 p.

Unless otherwise specified, you may not reproduce materials in this publication, in whole or in part, for the purposes of commercial redistribution without prior written permission from Environment Canada's copyright administrator. To obtain permission to reproduce Government of Canada materials for commercial purposes, apply for Crown Copyright Clearance by contacting:

Environment Canada
Inquiry Centre
10 Wellington Street, 23rd Floor
Gatineau QC K1A 0H3
Telephone: 819-997-2800
Toll free number: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
Fax: 819-994-1412
Teletypewriter: 819-994-0736

About Environment Canada Protected Areas and Management Plans

What are Environment Canada Protected Areas?

Environment Canada establishes marine and terrestrial National Wildlife Areas for the purposes of conservation, research and interpretation. National Wildlife Areas are established to protect migratory birds, species at risk, and other wildlife and their habitats. National Wildlife Areas are established under the authority of the Canada Wildlife Act and are, first and foremost, places for wildlife. Migratory Bird Sanctuaries are established under the authority of the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and provide a refuge for migratory birds in marine and terrestrial environments.

What is the size of the Environment Canada Protected Areas Network?

The current Protected Areas Network consists of 54 National Wildlife Areas and 92 Migratory Bird Sanctuaries comprising more than 12 million hectares across Canada.

What is a Management Plan?

A management plan provides the framework in which management decisions are made. They are intended to be used by Environment Canada staff to guide decision making, notably with respect to permitting. Management is undertaken in order to maintain the ecological integrity of the protected area and to maintain the attributes for which the protected area was established. Environment Canada prepares a management plan for each protected area in consultation with First Nations, the public and other stakeholders.

A management plan specifies activities that are allowed and identifies other activities that may be undertaken under the authority of a permit. It may also describe the necessary improvements needed in the habitat, and specify where and when these improvements should be made. A management plan identifies Aboriginal rights and allowable practices specified under land claims agreements. Further, measures carried out for the conservation of wildlife must not be inconsistent with any law respecting wildlife in the province in which the protected area is situated.

What is Protected Area Management?

Management includes monitoring wildlife, maintaining and improving wildlife habitat, periodic inspections, enforcement of regulations, as well as the maintenance of facilities and infrastructure. Research is also an important activity in protected areas; hence, Environment Canada staff carries out or coordinates research in some sites.

The series

All of the National Wildlife Areas are to have a management plan. All of these management plans will be initially reviewed five years after the approval of the first plan, and every ten years thereafter.

To learn more

To more about Environment Canada’s protected areas, please visit our website at Environment Canada Protected Areas or contact the Canadian Wildlife Service.

Estuary Islands National Wildlife Area

Estuary Islands National Wildlife Area is made up of approximately a dozen islands or portions of islands. It encompasses a total area of 404 hectares and extends over 120 kilometres in the St. Lawrence Lower and Upper Estuaries between Kamouraska and Rimouski (Le Bic). This wildlife area was created in 1986 by Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service with the purpose of protecting important nesting sites for migratory birds, notably colonial seabirds, and particularly the Common Eider.

These rocky islands are surrounded by brackish or salt water and bordered by wide, muddy or rocky intertidal flats with communities of mixed algae. The islands themselves are covered in Balsam Fir-White Birch stands as well as White Spruce and herbaceous vegetation.

This protected area is home to approximately one hundred species of birds, a large proportion of which are nesters. Furthermore, five of these islands have been designated Important Bird Areas (IBA). The National Wildlife Area accommodates large colonies of seabirds such as the Common Eider, the National Wildlife Area’s most abundant bird, as well as the Razorbill, Black Guillemot, Black-legged Kittiwake, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull. Approximately 10,000 pairs of Common Eiders nest in the National Wildlife Area; this accounts for just over half of this species' nesting pairs in the St. Lawrence Estuary. The Île Bicquette colony alone numbers more than 8,000 pairs, making it one of the largest colonies of Common Eiders in North America. Waterfowl species other than the Common Eider are infrequent during the nesting season, but thousands of Brants, Snow Geese, American Black Ducks, Scoters and Goldeneyes, as well as numerous shorebirds use these islands, along with the intertidal flats and adjacent waters during migration. Three species at risk frequent the National Wildlife Area and its surroundings: the Peregrine Falcon, Red Knot and Barrow’s Goldeneye. The National Wildlife Area is also home to about a dozen species of terrestrial mammals, the most common of which are the Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare and Muskrat. Moreover, the Grey Seal and the Harbour Seal use the shores of certain islands as haul-out sites.

Estuary Islands National Wildlife Area is exposed to a range of threats and presents a number of management challenges, particularly wildlife diseases, habitat degradation, the impact of predators, the impact of human activities, invasive plant species, accidental spills, fragmentation, and facilities, infrastructure, and lands maintenance as well as gaps in scientific knowledge.

Owing to the fragility of the lands and of the wildlife species that inhabit it, public access to the National Wildlife Area is prohibited, except on Le Pot du Phare island. Access to this island is allowed for public education purposes, but only after the seabird nesting season, from mid-July to mid-October, and is conditional on using the transportation service provided by the agency authorized by Environment Canada.

The goals for this management plan are:

  1. to protect and improve habitats that are important for species at risk, priority bird species and other wildlife;
  2. to reduce the impact of human activities on the National Wildlife Area;
  3. to consolidate the National Wildlife Area’s land holdings and promote the conservation of natural habitats on adjacent islands;
  4. to ensure ecological monitoring of the National Wildlife Area’s and improve knowledge about its wildlife and their habitats.

This document is the first approved management plan for Estuary Islands National Wildlife Area. It will be implemented over 10 years based on priorities and available resources.

For greater certainty, nothing in this management plan 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.

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