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Adding a breakwater to the pilot wharf at Les Escoumins, Quebec – Potential impacts on marine mammals

Quebec Region Science Special Response Process (SSRP)

Mont-Joli, QC
August 2011

Chairperson: Charley Cyr


The Laurentian Pilotage Authority (LPA) is planning to build a sheet pile breakwater in the fall of 2011 in Anse-aux-Basques at Les Escoumins. The LPA has a transfer station at Les Escoumins, in Anse-aux-Basques, where their two pilot boats are moored. Having replaced one of its pilot boats, it has become necessary to build a structure to protect against the waves so as to ensure safe docking. In fact, waves are significant in Anse-aux-Basques and adding a breakwater to the existing wharf will reduce the risk of damaging the vessels and will facilitate operations.

The construction of a breakwater in Anse-aux-Basques is subject to a screening under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act (CEAA), because the LPA is the proponent and Fisheries and Oceans Canada must issue an authorization pursuant to subsection 35(2) of the Fisheries Act (FA). The Fish Habitat Management Division (FHMD) has undertaken the project analysis under the FA and the Species at Risk Act (SARA) and sought the cooperation of scientists from the Regional Science Branch, who have expertise on marine mammals in the St. Lawrence Estuary, to obtain their advice on the potential impacts on cetaceans, particularly species at risk, including the North Atlantic blue whale and the St. Lawrence beluga.


Provide science advice concerning the three specific issues related to this project and its potential impacts on cetaceans:

  1. Because no drilling or piling or sheet pile driving will occur between June and August, and a cetacean monitoring program will be implemented, will the sheet pile breakwater construction activities at Les Escoumins cause significant disturbance or major impacts on cetaceans?
  2. If so, what additional mitigation measures should the proponent be required to introduce in order to reduce the disturbance and impacts?
  3. If there are no measures to reduce the impacts, can we conclude that construction activities would only incidentally affect St. Lawrence beluga and Atlantic blue whale populations and that the following conditions would be met?
    • All reasonable alternatives were considered and the best solution was adopted.
    • All measures were taken to minimize the activity’s negative consequences.
    • The activity will not jeopardize the survival or recovery of the species.

Expected Publications

Science special response


DFO Regional Science Branch


Participation to CSAS peer review meetings is by invitation only.

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