Photo: St. Lawrence belugas get a break

Beluga whales are the only resident cetacean found in the St. Lawrence River year-round.

By Jean-Patrick Toussaint

May and June were busy months for our Quebec office. TransCanada's Energy East project had coastal communities along the St. Lawrence worried. The company wants to build an oil port in Cacouna, in the heart of beluga whale critical habitat.

A true emblem of the St. Lawrence, the beluga is the only resident cetacean found in the river year-round. Today fewer than 900 remain, making it an endangered species under the Species at Risk Act. Concerned for the belugas' survival and recovery, the Foundation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society Quebec, Nature Quebec and the Centre québécois du droit de l'environnement filed for an injunction against TransCanada. The company then agreed not to undertake any work until Quebec's environment minister rules on the certificate of authorization for drilling activities.

It was a huge victory for our Quebec team and our allies as our action directly contributed to stopping work that could harm belugas.

As part of the St. Lawrence Coalition, the Foundation also published an 80-page report on oil and gas activities in the Gulf. The report was launched through a joint news release with groups from all five Gulf provinces, including a First Nations coalition. Through an action alert, the groups called on government to establish a moratorium on oil and gas activities in the Gulf and to conduct an extensive panel review and public consultations on the issue. Close to 7,000 people signed the alert and more than 5,000 downloaded the report — a resounding success!

Thanks to your generous contributions, we've been able to protect the integrity of one of Quebec's most valuable ecosystems!