A translation by Judith Turcotte
Nature doesn’t recognize the borders established by men, these artificial borders created to allow ethnic groups to isolate themselves from their neighbours. This type of isolationism is impossible today and countries become more and more melting pots of different ethnic groups. Today, man realizes that the earth is becoming smaller and smaller and that the borders that separated us are no longer effective and that they no longer have a purpose. There has never been a border for our St. Lawrence River and it forever sees itself invaded by species coming from all over the world. With increasing climate change, these invasions will multiply over the next few years. What is happening in the St. Lawrence is a sign of what will affect our society.
The arrival of zebra mussels is a good example. They arrived from Ukraine and the south of Russia at the beginning of the ’90s. Many scientists were warning of a coming disaster; they were predicting that the infestation threaten wildlife and was going to clog our drinking water intakes and cause supply problems. But, you see, the zebra mussel is not the only one to have immigrated from this distant region. The quagga mussel, larger than the zebra mussel, arrived soon after from the same area of the planet and slowed down the progression of its counterpart in the river but not in our lakes.
Another good example is the arrival of the Asian carp, the one that comes out of the water when it hears the noise of a motor. For decades, analysts warned us of the coming demographic and economic disaster they baptized “yellow peril.” In my youth, my imagination saw the massive arrival of Asians when in fact they stayed home and are in the process of governing the world. It is not the Chinese who came to us, it is the Asian carp that initially invaded the Great Lakes and stormed the St. Lawrence River, the Richelieu and the Saint-François River. The Asian carp devours the grass beds, a critical habitat for some of our native species; a specimen of 1.26 metres and 29 kilos was caught in Contrecoeur by a commercial fisherman. The infestation of the Asian carp is a serious problem.
In the past, the arrival of species from outside was the result of human actions: in the case of the zebra mussels, they travelled in the ballast of ships coming from Europe and the Asian carps were imported from China and Russia by breeders; they then escaped into our waterways. Today, climate change is responsible for the changes in our river’s wildlife. These changes are often for the better.
The global warming of the waters of the Gulf of St. Lawrence has promoted the increase of calamari in the gulf to a point where it could be commercially fished. This same global warming promotes a lobster run in the gulf coming from the American coast.
While I wonder about the absence of borders on the St. Lawrence River, our politicians (Steven Guilbeault and Benoit Charrette) announce that they wish to quadruple the area of the Saguenay/St. Lawrence Marine Park in the next three years. The objective of the expansion is to protect the beluga habitat. The threats to their habitat are noise pollution, navigation disruption and global warming. I am anxious to see the measures adopted to counteract these threats to the beluga and how our politicians are going to safeguard the borders of this Marine Park.