Freshwater Fisheries in Canada: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives on the Resources and Their Management

Chapter 9: Status and Management of Freshwater and Diadromous Resources in Québec

Pierre Dumont, Frédéric Lecomte, Michel Legault, Martin Arvisais, Yves Paradis, Julien April, Guy Verreault, and Pierre Magnan


From the very beginning of the French colony, explorers and the king’s representatives expressed in their correspondence how abundant were the fishes in the territory we now recognize as the Povince of Québec (Legendre 1953). Those historical writings described how various species were caught both by First Nations and European settlers. They provided picturesque recollections of the fisheries based on emblematic species such as the peerless salmon, the huge sturgeon, the combative pike, the providential eel, the golden Walleye Sander vitreus, and the large catfish, to name a few (Courtemanche and St-Germain 2018).

While fishing remains culturally important in Québec, public knowledge about the diversity, management, and conservation of freshwater and migratory fishes is generally poor. The province of Québec is a complex and variable environment: its large territory encompasses several bioclimatic domains; it has numerous freshwater systems including one of the largest river systems in the world—the St. Lawrence River—including the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and human settlements are concentrated in the St. Lawrence Valley. Over the years, fisheries management practices and strategies have been implemented to protect this natural heritage from habitat degradation and overexploitation.

This chapter considers only the issues related to fish species under the responsibility of the government of Québec, which include all freshwater and diadromous species. The chapter also presents the legislative framework governing the conservation of species and the resource allocation between the various users (First Nations, recreational, and commercial fishers). Finally, the science behind the strategies developed for the sustainable management of recreational and commercial fisheries, together with conservation and invasive species management, is presented through case studies.