La région de Quody, aux confins de
la baie de Fundy : un oasis marin en déclin
Il y a si peu de régions d'une telle importance sur la
planète qu'elles justifient qu'on y porte une attention toute spéciale.
La région de Quody est un oasis marin de portée internationale. Dans
cette région, les conditions créent un point névralgique en diversité
des espèces et en productivité.
Le Conseil de la conservation a mené une recherche et
préparé un rapport qui démontre clairement que l'accumulation et la
synergie des multiples stress imposés à la région de Quoddy sur une
période de 200 ans ont bouleversé l'écosystème et le cours de la
chaîne alimentaire. Les humains ont altéré l'écosystème par le biais
d'effets descendants négatifs comme la pêche, la chasse et les récoltes
Cet oasis marin peut être restauré et sa vie
prolongée si des mesures sont entreprises et maintenues.
The Quoddy Report
full report, 200 Years of Ecosystem and Food Web Changes in the Quoddy
pp) is available on CD from the Conservation Council of New Brunswick for
$10 plus postage.
The Quoddy Region,
Outer Bay of Fundy:
A Marine Oasis in Decline
Conservation Council of New Brunswick Inc.
the world, there are a few marine regions of such importance that they
warrant special attention. The Quoddy Region, the area within a line
drawn from Point Lepreau on the north shore of the Bay of Fundy, south
to the Grand Manan archipelago and west to the Maine shore, is a marine
oasis of international significance.
Western Head, Harbour Mouth
View from Musquash Head
MPA Campaign website, CCNB)
In the Quoddy Region, ocean currents and circulation patterns, high
tides, and upwellings support high concentrations of primary and
secondary producers, and a short, energy-efficient pelagic food chain
(diatoms krill ÷ fish / birds / mammals).
Abundant 'lower order' species attract a wide range of predators from
near and far to feed or nurse their young. Coupled with this abundant
food supply are the diverse underwater, riverine and terrestrial
habitats which provide breeding, spawning, nursing, feeding, foraging,
hiding and resting conditions for myriad species. Together, these
conditions create a hotspot of species diversity and productivity.
Within the Quoddy Region, there are a few particularly 'hot' spots,
critical habitats because they are used by many species at once. Head
Harbour and L'Etete Passages and their approaches (within the West Isles
archipelago), the eastern Grand Manan archipelago including Machias Seal
Island to the south, The Wolves Islands and Maces Bay, at the northerly
reach of the Quoddy Region, support a diversity of species interacting
among each other as predator and prey, and finding refuge and nursery
For thousands of years, the Passamaquoddy people and their ancestors
lived, fished, hunted and cultivated land in the Quoddy Region.
Archeologists have called their distinct lifestyle the "Quoddy
Tradition" (2200-350 B.P.), differing from that of neighbouring
tribes by their particularly diverse utilization of marine species. In
the Algonkian language, "Passamaquoddy" denotes a 'bay full of
pollock' and 'fishers of pollock.'
Over the 200 years since permanent European settlement in the late
18th century, humans as top predators and developers increased in number
and efficiency. Many marine, avian and terrestrial resources became
heavily exploited through fishing, hunting, and lumbering. Numerous
sawmills, pulp and paper mills, tanneries, fish processing and canning
industries, cotton mills, power plants, and eventually intensive finfish
aquaculture, were established here, each spewing effluent and debris
into rivers and bays virtually unchecked until the last thirty years
(aquaculture is just now coming under environmental regulation). Dozens
of dams became permanent features on rivers, tributaries and lakes in
the Quoddy watershed. Species depletion and habitat degradation and loss
have followed in lockstep.
Fog at Musquash Harbour Mouth
MPA Campaign website, CCNB)
In the 1960s, groundfish stocks collapsed in Passamaquoddy Bay in the
inner Quoddy Region, an area where pollock were once so abundant they
were seined in nets. Despite a de facto moratorium on fishing efforts
ever since, as well as improvements in pollution loadings from pulp and
saw mills, those stocks have not recovered. What has happened to
undermine that system's restoration capacity? Has the bay undergone
'ecological simplification,' where the intricate interrelationship of
species, habitats, food supply and reproductive conditions has been
These are the questions the Conservation Council set out to answer
through a research project launched in Fall 2000. Investigators Heike
Lotze of Dalhousie University and CCNB science consultant Inka Milewski
compiled archaeological, historic, and recent data for the Quoddy Region
in an effort to understand how current relationships between and among
species, and between species and habitats, compare with such
relationships one hundred and two hundred years ago, and even before
Europeans settled the region. Despite limitations in data (availability,
comparability, lack of long term monitoring, etc.), the investigators
were able to identify some very troubling trends in the Quoddy Region
beginning 200 years ago.
Humans have altered the Quoddy Region ecosystem through "top
down" impacts such as excessive fishing, hunting and harvesting.
The result has been a decline in size and abundance of large fish and
mammals, shifts in dominant species, and therefore shifts in food web
Through pollution, humans have caused "bottom-up" impacts
such as nutrient enrichment and shifts in nutrient ratios. This has
altered species composition in the phytoplankton community and increased
the occurrence and abundance of less edible and toxic algal species.
Long-lived rockweeds and eelgrasses have declined, while annual seaweed
blooms have increased.
The Quoddy ecosystem has also been affected by
"side-in"--or more indirect--impacts such as habitat
degradation and destruction, chemical contamination and species
disturbance. The extent of high quality spawning, breeding, nursing,
feeding and staging grounds has declined, and multiple pollutants may
have affected the health, survival and reproduction of species.
Increasing human activities in and around coastal waters create stress
and disturbance for birds, mammals and other species.
Aerial View of Gooseberry Cove
MPA Campaign website, CCNB)
The research also revealed some encouraging trends. Laws protecting
migratory birds and marine mammals, and establishment of sanctuaries in
the early 1900s have seen some populations move towards recovery.
Others, such as whales, continue to struggle. River pollution has
improved and species such as gaspereau have demonstrated they will
return if the physical conditions are right. Technical innovation such
as 'pingers' attached to gillnets are reducing the incidence of harbour
porpoise entanglements and deaths, and marine mammal recovery programs
are releasing porpoise and whales from herring weirs unharmed. In other
marine environments, such as the Baltic Sea, it is clear that measures
to reduce nutrient loading have made dramatic improvements in habitat
quality for marine species.
The Conservation Council report makes it clear that multiple stresses
over 200 years have collectively and synergistically resulted in
troubling ecosystem and food web trends in the Quoddy Region. Unless
each of these stress points is dealt with, the downward spiral will
continue. However, as a whole the region seems not to have lost its
productive capacity. If measures are taken to ensure species have
adequate food, habitat and undisturbed space and time, to reduce the use
of destructive and unselective fishing gear, to stop fishing down the
food web, to protect those critical habitats used by many species at
once, and to reduce nutrient and toxic pollution, then this marine oasis
can be restored and sustained.