The Gulf of St. Lawrence and its surrounding coastal areas support a wide range of activites. The increasing intensity and diversity of these activities continues to impact on the sustainability of resources available within the Gulf of St. Lawrence, as well as contribute to increased competition for the use of ocean space and increased conflict among ocean resource users.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence is one of the five priority Large Oceans Management Areas (LOMAs) for which integrated management planning is required. As a central principle of the Oceans Act, Integrated Management (IM) is a commitment to planning and managing human activities in a comprehensive manner while considering all measures necessary for the conservation, protection and sustainable use of ocean resources, and the shared use of ocean spaces. The IM planning process is described in the Policy and Operational Framework for Integrated Management of Estuarine, Coastal and Marine Environments in Canada and involves six inter-related stages:
The goal of IIM is to bring relevant environmental, economic and social concerns into the planning process thus allowing for planning that truly considers the sustainable use of the ecosystem.
The Gulf of St. Lawrence IM initiative has been developed with the initial focus to describe the ecosystem and identify activities and issues from a broad Gulf-wide perspective. As a starting point, it is important to identify what we know about the Gulf of St. Lawrence because it is only when we understand how the environment works that potential threats can be identified, and management measures can be put in place to mitigate them.