The Richelieu River is a tributary of the St. Lawrence River and Lake Champlain. Its watershed is shared between Quebec (16%) and the United States (84%). The Richelieu flows into the St. Lawrence River near Sorel-Tracy. It’s outlet is therefore near Lake Saint-Pierre, a fluvial lake that constitutes an ecological zone of great value. Wastewater, urban / agricultural runoff, artificial banks, and invasive exotic species are among the causes of a deterioration in the quality of water and aquatic habitats in the Quebec region of the Richelieu River.
If the American eel (Anguilla rostrata), the tasty shad (Alosa sapidissima), the eastern sand darter (Ammocrypta pellucida), the Channel Darter (Percina copelandi), the lake sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus) and the river redhorse (Moxostoma carinatum) are notable cases of species in the watershed whose situation is worrying, it is the copper redhorse (Moxostoma hubbsi) which is particularly noteworthy. The only fish endemic to Quebec, its distribution area is small and the Richelieu River is the only place where there are active spawning grounds. Its limited diet (molluscs) and its late sexual maturity (10 years old) are factors that increase its vulnerability to the overall degradation of its habitat.
The vulnerability of the copper redhorse and its endemic nature to a restricted geographic extension area make it an excellent indicator of the overall health of the aquatic ecosystems that make up the Richelieu River and St. Lawrence watershed. Unfortunately, the recovery strategy for the copper redhorse seems helpless against the weak regulatory control of pollution, which is vital for the success of the program (DFO, 2012 ).
It is in this context that the OIDN intends to mobilize a coalition of environmental groups in support of a formal notice to the Government of Quebec under section 8. of the Act to affirm the collective nature of water resources and to promote better governance of water and associated environments, so as to help mitigate the risks associated with the aforementioned issues.