Transcript: Striking Balance - Lac Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve | Nov 08, 2020

(music plays)

Two people extend a fishing net in the water.

The narrator says BIOLOGIST PHILIPPE BRODEUR
AND HIS TEAM
ARE AT LAC SAINT-PIERRE,
PART OF THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
IN QUEBEC.
THEY'RE HERE TO SEE
IF THIS YEAR'S GENERATION
OF YELLOW PERCH HAVE GROWN
BIG ENOUGH TO SURVIVE
THE COMING WINTER.
UNFORTUNATELY,
IT'S NOT LOOKING GOOD.

Philippe is in his forties, with short wavy brown hair and wears fishing clothes and a cap hat.

He says "So, we noticed this morning they are very small again. This has been the case for the past fifteen years. While it's a little disappointing, it's not surprising given the issues that have been documented in Lac Saint-Pierre recently."

The narrator says LAC SAINT-PIERRE
WAS MADE A BIOSPHERE RESERVE
TO SHOW THE WORLD
THAT PEOPLE, INDUSTRY,
AND EVEN THE MILITARY
CAN CO-EXIST
WITH A UNIQUE
AND SENSITIVE ECOSYSTEM.
BUT NOW, THAT DREAM
IS BEING PUT TO THE TEST.
THE YELLOW PERCH,
A KEY INDICATOR OF THE HEALTH
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE,
IS IN SERIOUS TROUBLE.
CAN THIS LITTLE FISH
INSPIRE THE BIG CHANGES
NEEDED TO RESTORE THE LAKE
TO ITS FORMER GLORY?

Fast clips show images of activities in Canada's biosphere reserves across different seasons.

The narrator says IN CANADA'S BIOSPHERE RESERVES,
PEOPLE ARE OVERCOMING
TREMENDOUS CHALLENGES
TO CREATE
A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE.
JOIN US ON
AN UNFORGETTABLE JOURNEY.
IT JUST MIGHT CHANGE HOW YOU
THINK ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT,
AND OUR PLACE IN IT.

The name of the show reads "Striking balance. Lac Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve. Narrated by Jim Cuddy."

The narrator says IN RECENT YEARS,
THE NUMBER OF YELLOW PERCH
IN LAC SAINT-PIERRE
HAS DECLINED BY 79 percent.
BUT NOT LONG AGO,
THIS LAKE SUPPORTED
A 300-TONNE PER YEAR
PERCH FISHERY,
SURPASSING LAKE ONTARIO,
A LAKE 40 TIMES ITS SIZE.

A caption reads "Roger Michaud. Commercial Fisherman."

Roger is in his sixties, with shorts straight graying hair and a beard. He wears a blue T-shirt.

He says "I'm 63 years old, and I started fishing with my father when I was six. Lac Saint-Pierre was famous for yellow perch fishing. People came here to buy fish because of it. For the commercial fishermen of Lac Saint-Pierre, it was 50 percent of their income."

The narrator says LAC SAINT-PIERRE
COULD GENERATE SO MANY PERCH,
BECAUSE IT'S NO ORDINARY LAKE.
LOCATED BETWEEN MONTREAL
AND QUEBEC CITY,
THE 40-KM LONG
LAC SAINT-PIERRE
IS CREATED BY THE MERGING
OF SEVERAL RIVERS
INTO THE ST. LAWRENCE,
ON THEIR WAY
TO THE ATLANTIC OCEAN.

A map shows the location of the lake.

The narrator says WHEN THE RIVERS REACH THE LAKE,
THEY SPREAD OUT,
CREATING AN ARCHIPELAGO
OF ISLANDS INTERSPERSED
WITH CHANNELS
AND WETLANDS.
SOME OF THE ISLANDS
ARE PROTECTED,
BUT THIS IS NOT
AN INTACT WILDERNESS.
ABOUT 85 000 PEOPLE
LIVE IN THE REGION,
MOSTLY IN THE INDUSTRIAL CITIES
AT EITHER END OF THE LAKE,
SOREL-TRACY
AND TROIS-RIVIÈRES.
COTTAGES ON STILTS
DOT THE ISLANDS,
AND THE LAKE IS AN
HUNTING AND BOATING
FOR PEOPLE IN SOUTHERN QUEBEC.
LAC SAINT-PIERRE
IS SURROUNDED BY FARMLAND,
THE BUSY ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY
RUNS THROUGH ITS MIDDLE,
AND THE BIGGEST PROTECTED AREA
ON THE LAKE...
IS A MILITARY BASE.
BUT AMONGST ALL
THIS HUMAN ACTIVITY,
IS AN ECOLOGICAL MARVEL
ON THE ST. LAWRENCE.
THE LAKE IS WARM AND SHALLOW,
MAKING IT AN IDEAL PLACE
FOR THE GROWTH
OF UNDERWATER VEGETATION.
WHEN THE RIVERS
CONVERGE ON THE LAKE,
THEY BRING WITH THEM NUTRIENTS
THAT HELP GROW THE VEGETATION
INTO HUGE SUBMERGED
PLANT BEDS.
THESE AQUATIC MEADOWS ATTRACT
TO FEED, HIDE FROM PREDATORS,
AND REPRODUCE.
IT'S THIS PRODUCTIVE
AQUATIC ENVIRONMENT
THAT FORMS THE BASE
OF THE EXTRAORDINARY
LAC SAINT-PIERRE ECOSYSTEM.
FEW UNDERSTAND
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS
PAUL MESSIER.
PAUL HAS SPENT THE PAST
30 SUMMERS HELPING TRACK
NORTH AMERICAN
WATERFOWL NUMBERS
BY BANDING DUCKS HERE FOR
THE CANADIAN WILDLIFE SERVICE.

The caption changes to "Paul Messier. Wildlife technician."

Paul is in his sixties, with short receding brown hair and wears a gray-green shirt and an army green cardigan sweater.

He says "It's the best job in the world. Every day, I get to go out on Lac Saint-Pierre. Birds and mammals love this place, because this is the habitat where they breed and find food. The abundance of fish in Lac Saint- Pierre attracts a diversity of species, like the great blue heron."

The narrator says LAC SAINT-PIERRE IS FAMOUS
FOR ATTRACTING MORE
THAN 1000 BREEDING PAIRS
THE LARGEST COLONY
IN NORTH AMERICA.

Paul says "In the ocean, schools of fish attract predators that feed on them. The same thing goes for yellow perch in the lake."

The narrator says THE HUGE WETLANDS
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE
ARE NOT ONLY
OUTSTANDING WILDLIFE HABITAT,
THEY ACT LIKE THE KIDNEY
OF THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER,
SOAKING UP AND BREAKING
DOWN NUTRIENTS,
BACTERIA AND OTHER
CONTAMINANTS.

Paul says "Lac Saint-Pierre plays a purification role in the St. Lawrence ecosystem. To give you an example, last fall, there was a sewage spill in the city of Montreal. Water quality tests conducted past the islands of Lac Saint-Pierre found that the wetlands had purified the water."

The narrator says AS IF THE WETLANDS
AND AQUATIC MEADOWS
WEREN'T ENOUGH,
WHAT REALLY MAKES
LAC SAINT-PIERRE
AN ECOLOGICAL MARVEL,
ARE THE FLOODS.
EVERY SPRING,
WHEN THE MELTWATERS
FROM THE GREAT LAKES
REACH LAC SAINT-PIERRE,
THE SHALLOW LAKE CAN GROW
IN SIZE BY 30,000 HECTARES.

The map shows the flooded areas around the lake.

The caption changes to "Anne-Marie Dulude. Biologist and Project Manager, Biophare Museum."

Anne-Marie is in her forties, with chin length straight blond hair with bangs and wears an embroidered black top and a black cardigan sweater.

She says "When people coming from all over arrive in the Lac Saint-Pierre archipelago, they are completely disoriented. It feels like being in the jungle. We call it 'the Bayou of the North'."

The narrator says THE YEARLY FLOODS
GREATLY EXPAND THE WETLANDS
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE
FOR SEVERAL WEEKS EVERY YEAR
AND ARE REALLY THE KEY
TO THE EXTRAORDINARILY HIGH
ABUNDANCE OF YELLOW PERCH
HISTORICALLY
FOUND IN THE LAKE.

Philippe says "This an extremely important habitat for fish reproduction. Every spring, about forty species migrate to the shallow flooded areas to lay their eggs."

The narrator says THE PERCH
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE SPAWN
IN AREAS THAT FOR MOST OF
THE YEAR, ARE DRY GROUND.
WHEN THE FLOODS COME,
ADULT PERCH MAKE THEIR WAY
ONTO THE FLOODPLAIN.
THE FEMALES DEPOSIT
THEIR EGGS
ATTACHED
TO SUBMERGED GRASSES.
AFTER THE MALES
FERTILIZE THE EGGS,
IT TAKES ABOUT 10 DAYS
FOR THEM TO HATCH.
AS THE FLOODWATERS RETREAT,
THE PERCH LARVAE GO WITH THEM,
AND GROW
BY EATING ZOOPLANKTON
LIVING IN THE LAKE'S
SUBMERGED PLANT BEDS.
THEY NEED TO GROW TO
ABOUT 70 MILLIMETRES
IN ORDER TO HAVE
ENOUGH ENERGY RESERVES
TO SURVIVE THEIR FIRST WINTER.
BUT THAT'S NOT HAPPENING.
MONITORING LED BY GOVERNMENT
OF QUEBEC BIOLOGIST,
PHILIPPE BRODEUR,
INDICATES THE NUMBER OF PERCH
MAKING IT TO ONE YEAR OLD,
HAS DECLINED BY 90 percent.

The caption changes to "Philippe Brodeur. Biologist, Quebec Ministry of Forests, Wildlife, and Parks."

He says "In the mid-1990s the production of young yellow perch began to decline. Then a steep decline in abundance of the species was documented. After these first abundance drops, we changed the quotas, bought back the majority of commercial fishing licenses, reduced the fishing season, and introduced size ranges. But despite all of these measures, the species continued to decline in the 2000s. So, unfortunately in 2012, we had to introduce a complete moratorium on sport and commercial yellow perch fishing in Lac Saint-Pierre."

The narrator says BOTH THE REDUCTION
IN PERCH NUMBERS,
AND THE PERCH-FISHING
MORATORIUM,
HAVE HAD SERIOUS
CONSEQUENCES.
ROGER MICHAUD STILL FISHES
FOR OTHER SPECIES,
BUT BECAUSE EVERYBODY
WANTS PERCH,
HIS INCOME IS WAY DOWN.

Roger says "When people ask for yellow perch I say, "No, we don't have any, but we do have other species of fish." They are not interested. I used to make a living commercial fishing and now I barely survive."

The narrator says FOR THE INDIGENOUS
PEOPLE OF THIS REGION,
THE ABENAKI,
THE YELLOW PERCH HAS LONG BEEN
ELDER YVON PANADIS
HAS BEEN FISHING
ON THE SAINT-FRANÇOIS RIVER,
WHICH FLOWS INTO
LAC SAINT-PIERRE,
SINCE HE WAS A KID.

The caption changes to "Yvon Panadis. Wabanakis Elder."

Yvon is in his eighties, with short gray hair and wears jeans, a gray hooded jacket and a gray flat hat.

He says WHEN I WAS YOUNGER YOU COULD
GO FISH ON THE SHORE,
AND THROW YOUR LINE
IN THE WATER,
AND YOU WOULD CATCH PERCH.
EVEN MY GRANDMOTHER
WAS FISHING.
THAT WAS FOOD
ON THE TABLE.
BUT NOW,
IT'S IMPOSSIBLE.
IT'LL TAKE YOU ABOUT A WEEK
BEFORE YOU HAVE ONE MEAL.
I DON'T KNOW
WHAT HAPPENED.

The narrator says IN RESPONSE TO
THE ABENAKI HAVE BECOME
STRONG ADVOCATES
FOR THE YELLOW PERCH
IN LAC SAINT-PIERRE.

The caption changes to "Suzie O'Bomsawin. Director, Ndakina Office Grand Council of the Waban-Aki Nation."

Suzie is in her thirties, with long straight brown hair and wears a white lace top, a mauve cardigan sweater and pendant earrings.

She says I KNOW YELLOW PERCH MIGHT
NOT BE IMPORTANT TO EVERYBODY.
BUT IT'S NOT GOING TO STOP
TO ONE KIND OF FISH.
THE DECLINE WILL GO
FOR OTHER SPECIES AS WELL.
ARE WE GOING TO LET ALL
THE SPECIES GO DOWN
BECAUSE AT FIRST
WE WERE LIKE,
"OH THIS IS JUST A SMALL FISH
AND WE SHOULD NOT
CARE ABOUT THAT MUCH,
AND THERE WILL
BE OTHER FISHES."
THAT FISH HAS A STRONG LINK
TO THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE.
AND IF WE DON'T
CARE ABOUT IT,
WE DON'T CARE ABOUT
THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE AT ALL.

The narrator says THE EVIDENCE
IS GROWING THAT SUZIE'S FEARS
ABOUT THE HEALTH
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE
ARE WELL-FOUNDED.
AFTER EIGHT YEARS,
THE MORATORIUM
ON PERCH FISHING
HASN'T RESULTED
IN THEIR RECOVERY.
AND THE YELLOW PERCH IS
NOT THE ONLY FISH SPECIES
THAT'S IN TROUBLE.

Philippe says "The northern pike has been following the same downward trends as the yellow perch over the past 15 years."

The narrator says PHILLIPE AND HIS COLLEAGUES
HAVE CONDUCTED 15 YEARS
OF METICULOUS RESEARCH,
TRYING TO UNDERSTAND
WHAT'S HAPPENED
TO THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE
ECOSYSTEM.
THEY THINK THEY'VE FINALLY
PUT THE PIECES
OF THE PUZZLE TOGETHER.

Philippe says "Lac Saint-Pierre truly represented the perfect habitat for this species. But because of changes in habitat and water quality, the capacity of this lake to produce young perch has strongly declined."

The narrator says LAC SAINT-PIERRE
CAN FEEL LIKE A VAST
AND ISOLATED
WILDERNESS.
BUT IT'S ONLY AN ILLUSION.
THE LAKE IS IN THE MOST HEAVILY
DEVELOPED PART OF QUEBEC,
AND THE THINGS THAT MAKE IT AN
UNUSUALLY PRODUCTIVE ECOSYSTEM,
ARE UNDER STRAIN.
THE FLOODPLAIN
IS BEING CONVERTED
TO INTENSIVE AGRICULTURE,
MAKING IT UNSUITABLE
SPAWNING HABITAT,
AND THE AQUATIC MEADOWS
ARE DISAPPEARING,
BECAUSE OF DETERIORATING
WATER QUALITY.
THE KIDNEY OF THE ST. LAWRENCE
CAN ONLY DO SO MUCH.

Paul says "Lac Saint-Pierre is not immutable. The kidney will fail at some point."

The narrator says THE PROBLEMS FACING
THE PERCH HERE ARE IMMENSE.
BUT LAC SAINT-PIERRE WAS
DESIGNATED A BIOSPHERE RESERVE
TO INSPIRE SOLUTIONS TO
JUST THESE KINDS OF CHALLENGES.
IN THE 1990S,
THERE WAS A GROWING AWARENESS
OF THE ECOLOGICAL IMPORTANCE
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE
AMONG PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE.
LOCAL ENVIRONMENTALISTS
LOOKED AROUND FOR A WAY
TO KEEP THIS UNIQUE
ECOSYSTEM HEALTHY
DESPITE ALL OF THE DIFFERENT
PRESSURES ON IT.
TURNING THE AREA INTO
A PARK WAS NOT PRACTICAL,
AS THERE WAS TOO MUCH
PRIVATE LAND,
AND TOO MANY DIFFERENT GROUPS
USING THE LAKE.
WHAT THEY NEEDED WAS A WAY
TO ENCOURAGE EVERYONE
AROUND THE LAKE
TO TREAT IT SUSTAINABLY.
THEY DECIDED THE BEST
WAY TO DO THAT
WOULD BE TO MAKE THE REGION
A UNESCO BIOSPHERE RESERVE.
BUT CONVINCING
THE COMMITTEE
THAT CHOOSES
NEW BIOSPHERE RESERVES
THAT THIS HEAVILY
DEVELOPED AREA
SHOULD BE A BIOSPHERE,
WAS A CHALLENGE.
HÉLÈNE GIGNAC HELPED
WIN THEM OVER.

The caption changes to "Hélène Gignac. President, Lac Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve."

Hélène is in her forties, with short wavy brown hair in an asymmetric cut and wears a red and black sweater with leather details and a silver necklace.

She says "There are factories here, there's a military base. This is not a usual place for a biosphere reserve." So, we invited the 'Man and the Biosphere' committee to come to Lac Saint-Pierre and see this exceptional place for themselves."

The narrator says AFTER WITNESSING
THE ABUNDANCE AND DIVERSITY
OF THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE
ECOSYSTEM FIRSTHAND,
THE COMMITTEE
WAS CONVINCED.
IN 2000,
THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE REGION
BECAME PART OF A NEW GENERATION
OF BIOSPHERE RESERVES
CREATED TO BE
"LABORATORIES OF SUSTAINABLE
DEVELOPMENT."

Hélène says "Lac Saint-Pierre is a living laboratory. It's a place where people with conflicting uses are learning to coexist. And here, every day, we are forced to improve our practices. How we can farm, sail, and operate industries differently, because we are in an exceptional environment and we have to make sure that this environment remains exceptional."

The narrator says SINCE BECOMING
A BIOSPHERE RESERVE,
IMPORTANT VOLUNTARY CHANGES
HAVE BEEN MADE
TO HELP HUMAN ACTIVITY
AND NATURE CO-EXIST HERE.
INDUSTRIES,
COMMUNITIES
AND EVEN COTTAGERS
LIVING ON THE ISLANDS,
HAVE ALL GREATLY REDUCED
THE POLLUTION
THEY RELEASE
INTO THE LAKE.
THE OPERATORS
OF THE ST. LAWRENCE SEAWAY
HAVE INSTRUCTED THEIR SHIP
CAPTAINS TO SLOW DOWN
WHEN TRAVELING
THROUGH THE LAKE,
LIMITING THE EROSION
ON THE ISLANDS
CAUSED BY THE WAKE
OF THE VESSELS.
THERE'S EVEN BEEN
A VERY IMPORTANT CHANGE
AT THE MILITARY BASE.
AND BEFORE EXPLORING SOLUTIONS
TO THE YELLOW PERCH PROBLEM,
IT'S WORTH INVESTIGATING
WHAT HAPPENED HERE.

An old black and white clip shows military men testing guns in the area.

The narrator says FOR THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
TO BE SURE OF THE QUALITY
OF ITS AMMUNITION,
IT TESTS A SMALL PERCENTAGE
OF THE AMMO IT BUYS.
SINCE 1952, ONE OF THE MOST
IMPORTANT TESTING SITES
HAS BEEN A 3000-HECTARE
MILITARY BASE NEAR NICOLET,
ON THE SOUTH-EAST SHORE
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE.

The map shows the location of the Munitions Experimental Test Centre, by Lac Saint-Pierre.

The caption changes to "Captain Paul Leger-Frechette, Manager, Munitions Experimental Test Centre, Canadian Armed Forces, Nicolet."

Paul is in his late forties, clean-shaven and with short gray hair and wears a military uniform.

He says THE REASON WHY NICOLET
WAS CHOSEN IS BECAUSE
IN SOREL THEY WERE CONSTRUCTING
TANKS AND LARGE AMMUNITION.
SO, BY TRAIN,
IT WAS EASY TO COME IN HERE
AND TEST THE AMMUNITION
TO MAKE SURE THAT IT ALWAYS
PERFORMS THE SAME WAY
FOR THE CANADIAN SOLDIER.
HISTORICALLY, EVERY TYPE OF
MUNITION USED FOR THE ARTILLERY,
OR THE FOOT PATROL SOLDIER, HAS
BEEN TESTED IN NICOLET.

The narrator says FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS,
TESTING ARTILLERY SHELLS
INVOLVED FIRING THEM
INTO THE LAKE.

Paul says THE MUNITIONS WERE TESTED OVER
LAC SAINT-PIERRE
BECAUSE THE FACT THAT
WHEN WE WERE SHOOTING,
YOU CAN SEE THE BULLET
ENTERING IN THE WATER.
IT WAS EASIER
TO CALCULATE TO MAKE SURE
THAT THE CHARGE WAS CORRECT.

The narrator says TESTING OVER THE LAKE
MAY HAVE BEEN AN EFFECTIVE WAY
TO GAUGE THE LONG-RANGE
ACCURACY OF ARTILLERY,
BUT THE PRACTICE HAS HAD
SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES.
THE LAKE NOW CONTAINS ROUGHLY
300,000 ARTILLERY SHELLS.
MOST ARE INERT,
BUT ABOUT 8,000 ARE UNEXPLODED
EXPLOSIVE ORDINANCE,
OR UXOS,
MAKING THEM
EXTREMELY DANGEROUS.
NO ONE KNOWS THE DANGERS
BETTER THAN PAUL GENTES,
WHOSE BROTHER PIERRE
WAS KILLED WHEN A LIVE,
UNEXPLODED ARTILLERY SHELL
WAS TRAGICALLY PLACED
ON A CAMPFIRE ALONG THE SHORE
OF LAC SAINT-PIERRE IN 1982.

The caption changes to "Paul Gentes. Member, Action Group for the Restoration of Lac Saint-Pierre."

Paul is in his seventies, with short receding white hair and a beard. He wears glasses and a black sweater.

He says "I was there too. I remember turning around and the fire had exploded. Then there were sparks raining down and people running to the water because some had fire on their heads. I found my brother Pierre, and he was hit. One of his legs was completely severed, and a stone had hit him in the forehead. We called the ambulance and we got him to the hospital. He died in the hospital."

The narrator says DESPITE THE ACCIDENT,
THE TESTING CONTINUED.
BUT THE TRAGEDY DID RAISE
AWARENESS OF THE DANGERS
OF THE UNEXPLODED
MUNITIONS IN THE LAKE.

Paul says "Before that, when people found shells - they kept them, or didn't talk about them. But now when they find one, they immediately call the police and make sure it gets picked up."

The narrator says A FEW YEARS
AFTER THE ACCIDENT,
ANOTHER LOCAL RESIDENT,
PHILLIPPE GIROUL,
BECAME CONCERNED ABOUT
THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACTS
OF THE ACTIVITY.
PHILLIPPE JOINED
FORCES WITH PAUL,
AND A FEW OTHER
LOCAL RESIDENTS,
TO TRY TO STOP
THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
FROM FIRING INTO
LAC SAINT-PIERRE.

The caption changes to "Philippe Giroul. Member, Action Group for the Restoration of Lac Saint-Pierre."

Philippe is in his seventies, with short receding white hair and wears glasses and a gray and red patterned sweater.

He says "People were not aware of the environmental damage caused by the Canadian army. We have been instrumental in raising awareness of this problem. We were determined not to let the matter rest."

The narrator says THEY WROTE
LETTERS TO NEWSPAPERS,
CATCHING THE ATTENTION
OF JOURNALISTS,
AND PROPELLING THE ISSUE
TO THE PARLIAMENT OF CANADA'S
STANDING COMMITTEE
ON ENVIRONMENT
AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT
IN MAY OF 1999.

Philippe says "Six months later, the government decided to stop firing on Lac Saint-Pierre. This change happened thanks to a small group of citizens who enlightened those in charge."

The narrator says LONG-RANGE TESTING WAS MOVED
TO LESS ENVIRONMENTALLY
SENSITIVE SITES
ELSEWHERE IN CANADA.
THEY CONTINUED
SHORT RANGE TESTING,
BUT BUILT CONCRETE ENCLOSURES
FILLED WITH SAND TO FIRE INTO.

Captain Legger-Frechette says THE CENTER IS NOW TESTING
BASICALLY THE SAME AMMO,
AMMUNITION,
THAT IT WAS BEFORE.
THE ONLY CHANGE IS WE SHOOT
INSIDE SAND TOWER,
AND NOTHING IS GOING
IN THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE.

The narrator says A FEW MONTHS AFTER
THE DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE
STOPPED FIRING
INTO THE LAKE,
LAC SAINT-PIERRE WAS DESIGNATED
AS A BIOSPHERE RESERVE
BY UNESCO.
THE DESIGNATION -
AND THE INTERNATIONAL SCRUTINY
THAT COMES WITH IT -
LIKELY PLAYED A ROLE
IN THE DECISION
TO STOP THE ACTIVITY.

Hélène says "Is that a coincidence? I'd say it's serendipity. And we're very happy because it prevents the destruction of this environment. Surely, some damage is done and shells must be removed, but at least we stopped polluting Lac Saint-Pierre. So, it's still a good example of cohabitation."

The narrator says WHEN THE REGION WAS
DESIGNATED A BIOSPHERE RESERVE,
THE NICOLET BASE BECAME
ITS CORE, PROTECTED AREA -
A ROLE USUALLY FILLED
BY A NATIONAL PARK.
PAUL MESSIER HAS HAD
THE OPPORTUNITY
TO SURVEY THE SITE
FOR WILDLIFE.

Paul says "I've been fortunate enough to work at the military base in Nicolet. It takes special permission. Going there is like entering a paradise with no trace of human life. It's full of interesting flora and fauna. It's like Jurassic Park."

The narrator says JULIE BOURNIVAL
IS THE ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICER
RESPONSIBLE FOR
STEWARDING THE BASE.

The caption changes to "Julie Bournival. Environmental officer, Montreal Garrison, Canadian Armed Forces."

Julie is in her early forties, with mid-length straight blond hair in a ponytail and wears a white top and a black cardigan sweater.

She says NOBODY THINKS OF A MILITARY BASE
AS AN ENVIRONMENTAL SITE
WHERE WE HAVE A LOT OF ANIMALS,
A LOT OF FLORA,
A LOT OF SPECIES AT RISK.
BUT WE ACTUALLY HAVE
16 SPECIES AT RISK
HERE ON THE NICOLET SITE.
IT'S AMAZING TO FIND THAT
ON A MILITARY BASE.

The narrator says JULIE AND HER TEAM
ARE MAPPING THE SPECIES
AT RISK ON THE BASE.
THE DATA WILL BE USED IN
A GUIDE TO HELP PERSONNEL
KEEP AT-RISK SPECIES,
AND THEIR HABITATS,
PROTECTED DURING TESTING.

Julie says TO COMBINE THE MILITARY
OPERATION WITH THE MISSION
THAT WE HAVE AS AN
ENVIRONMENTAL OFFICER,
I FIND IT
QUITE INTERESTING
BECAUSE WE HAVE TO
MAINTAIN OPERATIONS,
BUT OUR FOCUS IS ON
MAINTAINING THE ECOSYSTEM,
AND WE TRY TO FIND SOLUTIONS
TO MAKE THOSE
TWO WORK TOGETHER.

The narrator says BY FAR, THE BIGGEST
ENVIRONMENTAL CHALLENGE
FACING THE DEPARTMENT
OF DEFENSE AT NICOLET
IS THE DANGEROUS LEGACY LEFT
BY DECADES OF MUNITIONS TESTING
IN THE LAKE.
BUT REMOVING THOUSANDS
OF UNEXPLODED ORDINANCE
FROM LAC SAINT PIERRE
IS A LONG, TEDIOUS
AND EXPENSIVE PROCESS.
JOSÉE GAGNON WORKS FOR
DEFENCE CONSTRUCTION CANADA,
THE CROWN CORPORATION
TASKED WITH REMOVING UXOS
ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
AT LAC SAINT-PIERRE, SHE'S
OVERSEEING A 10-YEAR PROJECT,
PAID FOR BY
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT,
TO CLEAN UP
A 500-HECTARE ZONE
BELIEVED TO BE
THE MOST DANGEROUS.

The caption changes to "Josée Gagnon. Coordinator, Environmental Services Defense Construction Canada."

Josée is in her mid-forties, with above the shoulder slightly wavy light brown hair and wears a polka dotted shirt.

She says WE DID A RISK ASSESSMENT
AND WE EVALUATED
WHERE THE RISK
WAS THE HIGHEST.
SO, THIS IS THE ZONE
WHERE WE WILL WORK.
IT IS NOT ALL OVER
THE FORMER FIRING RANGE,
BECAUSE THIS THIS WILL
TAKE MANY, MANY YEARS.

The map shows the location of the UXO removal area in the lake.

The narrator says THE REMOVAL PROCESS
STARTS BY USING SENSORS
TO IDENTIFY THE LOCATION
OF METALLIC OBJECTS
ON THE LAKE BOTTOM.

Josée says WE DON'T KNOW PRECISELY
THE LOCATION OF THE UXOS
WE ARE LOOKING FOR.
SO, WE ARE DOING
GEOPHYSICAL SURVEYS
IN ORDER TO DEFINE
THE VERY PRECISE LOCATION
OF ANY METALLIC OBJECTS.
AND THEN WE SEND
UXO SPECIALISTS,
UXO TECHNICIANS,
AND IT'S A ONE-BY-ONE WORK.
SO, IT'S VERY, VERY LONG
BECAUSE YOU NEED
A UXO SPECIALIST
TO LOOK AT EVERY SINGLE
METAL OBJECT,
TO IDENTIFY WHAT
THIS OBJECT IS.
IT COULD BE A PIECE OF METAL,
BUT IT COULD BE A PROJECTILE.

The narrator says IF THE OBJECT IS A PROJECTILE
THAT IS SAFE TO MOVE,
IT IS BROUGHT BACK TO LAND,
AND DETONATED UNDER
CONTROLLED CONDITIONS.

Josée says IF THE OBJECT
IS NOT SAFE TO MOVE,
WE WILL HAVE TO
DETONATE IT IN SITU.

The narrator says UNDERWATER
DETONATIONS ARE OFTEN
THE ONLY SAFE WAY
TO NEUTRALIZE UXOS.
SO, THE WORK ONLY TAKES
PLACE IN THE LATE FALL,
TO MINIMIZE IMPACTS
ON MIGRATING BIRDS,
AND SPAWNING FISH,
LIKE THE YELLOW PERCH.

Josée says THE NICOLET PROPERTY
IS ALMOST ENTIRELY A FLOODPLAIN,
AND THOSE ARE
REALLY RICH HABITATS
FOR YELLOW PERCH SPAWNING.
WE ARE PROTECTING WILDLIFE
FROM THE BEGINNING
OF THE PROJECT.
WE HAVE RESTRICTIONS
REGARDING
THE SPAWNING FISH
AND THE MIGRATORY BIRDS.

The narrator says JOSÉE AND HER TEAM
ARE JUST AT THE BEGINNING
OF A VERY LONG
CLEAN-UP PROCESS,
BUT THEY'VE ALREADY REMOVED OR
NEUTRALIZED HUNDREDS OF UXOS.

Josée says WHEN WE SEE THAT WE ARE
EFFECTIVELY REMOVING
PROJECTILE BY PROJECTILE,
WE KNOW THAT WE ARE DOING
AN IMPORTANT JOB
AND WE ARE HAPPY THIS PRACTICE
IS NO LONGER USED.

The narrator says THE FIRING OF MUNITIONS
INTO LAC SAINT-PIERRE
WAS A MAJOR PROBLEM
FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
AND THE HEALTH OF THE PEOPLE
WHO LIVE HERE.
BUT AFTER YEARS OF EFFORT
BY DEDICATED PEOPLE,
SOLUTIONS WERE FOUND
TO STOP THE DEGRADATION,
AND A MULTI-MILLION-DOLLAR
CLEANUP EFFORT IS UNDERWAY.

Paul Gentes says "We can always take action with situations we deem unacceptable. And with effort and time, sometimes we win the battle."

The narrator says WITH THE BOMBS
THAT HAVE LONG HAUNTED
LAC SAINT-PIERRE
SLOWLY BEING REMOVED,
PEOPLE HERE NOW
HAVE A NEW CHALLENGE:
RESTORING THE HEALTH
OF THE LAKE,
SO IT CAN ONCE AGAIN
SUPPORT THE YELLOW PERCH.
IT WON'T BE EASY,
AND IT WON'T BE QUICK,
BUT THERE ARE MANY DEDICATED
PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS
PREPARED TO DO WHAT IT TAKES,
TO GET THE LAKE BACK ON TRACK.
AMONG THE BIGGEST ISSUES
FACING THE PERCH,
IS THE LOSS OF SPAWNING HABITAT
ON THE FLOODPLAIN.
THE EASIEST WAY TO INCREASE
SPAWNING HABITAT,
IS TO MAKE IT POSSIBLE FOR FISH
TO ACCESS EXISTING HABITAT,
THAT FOR VARIOUS REASONS
IS CUT OFF FROM THE LAKE.
THAT'S WHAT
THE ABENAKI HAVE DONE
NEAR THEIR COMMUNITY OF ODANAK,
WHERE A LARGE WETLAND
WAS INACCESSIBLE TO
SPAWNING PERCH DUE TO A ROAD
AND A MISPLACED CULVERT.

The map shows how close to the wetland the road is located.

The caption changes to "Samuel Dufour-Pelletier. Biologist, The Abenaki Council of Odanak."

Samuel is in his early thirties, with short brown hair and wears a black windbreaker and a gray knitted hat.

He says "When there was a low spring flood, fish couldn't access this habitat to spawn. We realized the culvert was too high. We lowered it and increased its diameter. And then we reshaped the watercourse to reduce the current speed and make it easier for yellow perch to access the marsh."

The narrator says THE IMPROVEMENTS
WERE MADE LAST FALL,
AND NOW THE ODANAK
FISHERIES TEAM IS MONITORING
TO SEE IF THE PERCH
ARE ABLE TO ACCESS
THE HABITAT FOR SPAWNING.
THEY START BY TEMPORARILY
CATCHING THE FISH
THAT ARE MAKING THEIR WAY
INTO THE MARSH TO SPAWN.
THE FISH ARE MARKED
WITH A PLASTIC DYE,
BEFORE BEING PUT BACK
INTO THE WATER.
THEY ALSO INSTALLED
A SECOND NET
AFTER THE STREAM
MODIFICATIONS.
IF THEY CATCH FISH
HERE MARKED WITH DYE,
IT MEANS THE PERCH ARE ABLE
TO MAKE IT ALL THE WAY
THE RESULTS SO FAR,
ARE PROMISING.

Samuel says "So far, the results indicate that fish are indeed able to pass through our modified course. And these were fish that had obvious signs of early spawning. So, it's safe to say the improvements are working for spawning yellow perch."

The narrator says FOR FIELD ASSISTANT,
CHRIS COUGHLIN,
SEEING THE PERCH RETURN TO
THIS WETLAND SO QUICKLY,
IS VERY ENCOURAGING.

The caption changes to "Chris Coughlin. Technician, The Abenaki Council of Odanak."

Chris is in his thirties, and wears a camouflage hoodie and a dark green windbreaker.

He says IT'S ALREADY HELPING THE PERCH,
AND IT'S NOT EVEN A YEAR
THIS HAS BEEN DONE.
SO, IN THE FUTURE,
I GOT A FEELING THE PERCH
WILL BE BACK
AND THEY'LL BE STRONG.

The narrator says THE WORK THE ODANAK
FISHERIES TEAM HAS DONE HERE,
AND IN ANOTHER
NEARBY WETLAND,
PROVES EVEN SMALL CHANGES
CAN HELP THE PERCH.
IT ALSO MEANS THAT, THANKS TO
THE PERCH FISHING MORATORIUM,
THERE ARE ADULT FISH
READY TO SPAWN
WHEN NEW HABITAT
IS MADE AVAILABLE.
THE ABENAKI HOPE
THEIR SUCCESS SPAWNS OTHER,
SIMILAR PROJECTS.

Suzie says WE ARE CHALLENGING
ALL THE PARTNERS
TO DO SUCH PROJECTS ALSO.
IF OTHER PARTNERS
DON'T HAVE KNOWLEDGE,
WE CAN SHARE OUR KNOWLEDGE,
AND MAKE SURE THEY
ARE REALLY POSITIVE
FOR THE YELLOW PERCH
AT THE END.

The narrator says UP ON THEIR OFFER,
IT COULD HAVE
A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT
ON PERCH RECOVERY.
BUT RECONNECTING HABITAT
CAN ONLY GO SO FAR,
BECAUSE ABOUT 5000 HECTARES OF
THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE FLOODPLAIN
HAS NOT ONLY BEEN
CUT OFF FROM THE LAKE,
IT'S BEEN CONVERTED
TO CROPLAND
NOT SUITABLE
FOR PERCH SPAWNING.
THE CONSERVATION GROUP,
DUCKS UNLIMITED,
IS WORKING TO
UNDO ITS PART
IN UNINTENTIONALLY
CREATING THIS PROBLEM.

The caption changes to "Bernard Filion. Manager of Operations for Quebec Ducks Unlimited."

Bernard is in his fifties, with short gray hair and wears a blue plaid shirt, a gray jacket and a blue cap hat.

He says THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE IS ONE
OF OUR MOST IMPORTANT SECTORS,
BECAUSE IT'S VERY GOOD
HABITAT FOR THE DUCKS.
WE DID MANY,
MANY PROJECTS
AND WE INVEST
MILLIONS OF DOLLARS
AROUND THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE.

The narrator says DUCKS UNLIMITED'S INVOLVEMENT
IN LAC SAINT-PIERRE
BEGAN IN THE 1980S.
AT THE TIME,
THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC
HAD AN AGGRESSIVE PROGRAM
TO DRAIN WETLANDS
AND SALT MARSHES TO MAKE LAND
AVAILABLE FOR CROP FARMING.
THEY STARTED FURTHER DOWN
THE ST. LAWRENCE,
BUT EVENTUALLY SET THEIR
SIGHTS ON A BIG PRIZE:
THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE
FLOODPLAIN.

Bernard says THEY HAD A PLAN
TO BUILD THE DIKE,
TO STOP THE FLOODPLAIN
AND TO ALLOW
THE FARM ACTIVITY
IN THE FLOODPLAIN.
AND THEN AT THE END OF THE 80S,
WE HAD A VERY STRONG CONFLICT
BETWEEN
THE FARMING COMMUNITY
AND THE CONSERVATION
COMMUNITY.
WE HAD TO MAKE A CHOICE.
HOW TO PROTECT SOME
PART OF THE FLOODPLAIN
AND KEEP THE FARMING IN PLACE?

The narrator says THE QUEBEC GOVERNMENT
NEGOTIATED A COMPROMISE BETWEEN
THOUGHT TO BE GOOD
FOR BOTH AGRICULTURE
AND WILDLIFE.
FARMERS SOLD THEIR FLOODPLAIN
LAND TO DUCKS UNLIMITED,
WITH THE UNDERSTANDING
THAT DUCKS
WOULD DIKE THE LAND
TO CUT IT OFF FROM
THE LAKE'S NATURAL
FLOOD CYCLE.
THE LAND WAS THEN LEASED BACK
TO THE FAMERS FOR CULTIVATION.
DUCKS UNLIMITED WAS ALLOWED
TO KEEP MELT WATERS
ON THEIR LAND
DURING THE SPRING,
GIVING MIGRATORY BIRDS
A PLACE TO GATHER,
BEFORE PUMPING
THE WATER OUT IN MAY
SO FARMERS
COULD PLANT CROPS.
THE SYSTEM WORKS WELL
FOR MIGRATORY BIRDS.
UP TO ONE MILLION
SNOW GEESE
COME TO FEED
ON THE LEFTOVER CROPS
IN THE FLOODED
FIELDS EVERY SPRING.
UNFORTUNATELY, IT DOESN'T
WORK SO WELL FOR FISH.

Bernard says WE DEVELOPED THAT WITH
THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE TIME.
WE THOUGHT IT'S A GOOD, GREAT,
PERFECT PROJECT.
BUT WITH TIME, WE DISCOVER
IT WAS NOT REALLY PERFECT.

The narrator says THE COMPROMISE
TURNED OUT TO BE REALLY BAD
FOR THE YELLOW PERCH.
THE DIKES USUALLY
BLOCK PERCH
FROM ACCESSING
THEIR SPAWNING GROUNDS.
IF THEY DO MAKE IT,
THEY FIND THE GRASSES
WHERE THEY USED TO LAY
THEIR EGGS ARE BARE FIELDS,
AND WHEN THEY TRY TO LEAVE,
TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE,
WHEN THE FIELDS ARE
PUMPED OUT IN MAY,
THEY DEPOSIT
AGRICULTURAL SEDIMENTS
AND PESTICIDES
INTO THE LAKE.

Bernard says WE REALIZED
THIS TYPE OF ACTIVITY
WAS NOT WHAT THIS
LAC SAINT-PIERRE NEEDS.
AND THAT'S WHY WE MOVED
TO LET THE WATER OPERATE
LIKE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO DO.

The narrator says NOW IN CRISIS,
DUCKS UNLIMITED
IS SLOWLY BUYING BACK
THE FARMING RIGHTS TO THE LANDS
THEY OWN AROUND THE LAKE,
AND RESTORING THEM
TO NATURAL COVER.
THEY'VE STARTED AT THEIR
SAINT-BARTHELEMY PROPERTY
NORTH OF THE LAKE.
THEY'VE SEEDED
NATIVE VEGETATION
KNOWN TO BE GOOD PERCH
SPAWNING HABITAT,
AND OPENED THE DIKES
TO ALLOW FOR FISH ACCESS.

Bernard says THIS SPRING WAS THE FIRST YEAR
THEY DID SURVEYS ABOUT
"IS THIS AFFECTING
THE FISH POPULATION?"
AND THEY SHOW, YES,
THE PERCH WAS SPAWNING,
BACK AS NATURE WAS
30 YEARS AGO!

The narrator says FOLLOWING THE SUCCESS
AT SAINT-BARTHELEMY,
DUCKS UNLIMITED IS PLANNING
TO ALSO RE-NATURALIZE
THE 540 HECTARES THEY OWN
SOUTH OF THE LAKE,
WHEN THE FARMING LEASES
THERE EXPIRE.
BUT EVEN IF ALL
OF THE DUCKS UNLIMITED LAND
ON THE FLOODPLAIN IS RESTORED
TO NATURAL HABITAT,
IT ONLY REPRESENTS
ABOUT TWENTY PERCENT
OF THE 5000 HECTARES
UNDER CULTIVATION.
THERE'S A GROWING UNDERSTANDING
THAT TO HELP THE PERCH,
FARMING PRACTICES
ON THE FLOODPLAIN
CAN'T CONTINUE
AS THEY ARE.

Bernard says IT'S TOUGH TO SAY,
"WE HAVE TO STOP TO DO THAT."
BUT SOMETIMES IT'S IMPORTANT
TO GO BACK TO THE HISTORIC.

The narrator says BEFORE THE SHIFT
TO ANNUAL CROPS,
THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE FLOODPLAIN
WAS FOR CENTURIES
A PLACE TO GROW HAY
AND PASTURE CATTLE.
SO, ONE WAY TO
RESTORE THE PERCH,
MIGHT BE FOR FARMERS
TO RETURN TO THEIR ROOTS.
LIKE DUCKS UNLIMITED,
HAS HAD AN INTEREST
THEY CONSERVE
ABOUT 1,200 HECTARES
IN THE BIOSPHERE RESERVE,
MAINLY ON THE ISLANDS
NEAR SOREL.

The caption changes to "Julien Poisson. Program Director, Southern Quebec Nature Conservancy of Canada."

Julien is in his forties, with short wavy gray hair and a stubble. He wears a black sweater and a navy blue zip-up vest.

He says "The goal of the Nature Conservancy of Canada at Lac Saint-Pierre is to maintain the ecosystem services of the properties we protect. Maintain quality habitats for the species we protect. All of that while striking a balance with the traditional activities on the islands."

The narrator says ON ÎLE DE GRÂCE,
GROWING HAY IS A TRADITION,
SO WHEN THE NCC CONSERVED
A LARGE PROPERTY HERE,
THEY BEGAN WORKING WITH
LOCAL CATTLE FARMER,
YANNICK BERGERON,
TO CONTINUE THE PRACTICE.
UNLIKE A CORN
OR SOYBEAN FIELD,
A HAY FIELD CAN BE GOOD
PERCH SPAWNING HABITAT,
SO LONG AS THE HAY
ISN'T CUT TOO CLOSE
TO THE GROUND IN THE FALL.

Julien says "In the floodplain of Lac Saint- Pierre, it's good to have fields of hay and fodder like this. It helps to maintain a vegetation cover in the fall and spring. And what's interesting is that in the spring, when these fields are flooded, fish can come here and attach their eggs to this vegetation. If this was a field of corn or soybeans, it would be bare ground. So, this way, we combine agricultural activity with a quality habitat for fish reproduction."

The narrator says UNTIL HE STARTED
WORKING WITH THE NCC,
YANNICK DIDN'T KNOW FARMING HAY
GIVES PERCH A PLACE TO SPAWN
IN THE SPRING,
AS THIS INFORMATION
ISN'T COMMON KNOWLEDGE
AMONG FARMERS.
BUT HE KNOWS THE PERCH
IS IN TROUBLE,
AND HE'S EAGER TO HELP.

The caption changes to "Yannick Bergeron. Farmer."

Yannick is in his forties, with slightly long wavy brown hair and a beard. He wears jeans, a green sweater, an unbuttoned plaid shirt and a cap.

He says "While I know all about agriculture, other people know more about nature. I rely on them. With yellow perch, I was raised from age three to go fishing in the summer. We have seen the decrease in size, the decrease in quantity. I hope to see it increase, so that I can take my children perch fishing, which is essentially the "national sport" of the islands."

The narrator says A FEW KILOMETERS
FROM ÎLE DE GRÂCE,
IS THE NCC'S CROWN JEWEL
IN LAC SAINT-PIERRE,
THE 500-HECTARE
ÎLE DU MOINE.
ON THE ISLAND'S GRASSLANDS,
THEY'VE ESTABLISHED ANOTHER
PERCH-COMPATIBLE
FARMING PROJECT.
THERE'S A HISTORY OF RAISING
CATTLE ON THE ISLAND
THAT GOES BACK
THREE CENTURIES,
BUT IN RECENT YEARS,
THE COWS HAVE BEEN ABSENT.
LOCAL PEOPLE MISSED
HAVING COWS ON THE ISLAND.
SO, IN 2018, THE NCC
PARTNERED WITH FARMERS
TO BRING THEM BACK FOR BOTH
PEOPLE, AND NATURE.

The caption changes to "Yves Gaudette. Agricultural producer."

Yves is in his sixties, with short white hair and wears a red plaid shirt, a black overall and a gray cap hat.

He says "Grazing lands are very important, and in our region they are disappearing. Our island is just like the Creator made it. It's a little piece of heaven for us and for animals."

The narrator says LIKE HAY FIELDS,
GRASSLAND PASTURES
ARE GOOD PLACES FOR PERCH
TO LAY THEIR EGGS
DURING THE SPRING FLOOD,
PROVIDED THEY ARE
NOT OVER-GRAZED.
WHEN THE FLOODS RECEDE,
PASTURES BECOME EXCELLENT
HABITAT FOR GRASSLAND BIRDS,
WHO ARE ALSO FACING SERIOUS
DECLINES IN THE REGION.

Julien says "Experts from Québecoiseaux explained that bringing back pastures would lead to the return of birds in decline to Île du Moine."

The caption changes to "Stéphane Lamoureux. Biologist and Conservation Manager, Québecoiseaux."

Stéphane is in his late forties, bald and with a graying beard. He wears a black sweater and a navy blue zip up jacket.

He says "Cows produce dung, and dung attracts insects. Then birds feed on the insects while they are nesting. So, they can breed and feed here."

Julien says "In my opinion, there was a very good balance between a project wanted by the community, and a conservation project."

The narrator says TO MANAGE THE COWS
AND AVOID OVER-GRAZING,
THE NCC HAS PAID
FOR THE INSTALLATION
OF TEMPORARY, MOVABLE
ELECTRIC FENCES.
THE FENCES MAKE IT
EASY TO CREATE
AN AMPLE 100-METER BUFFER
BETWEEN THE COWS AND THE LAKE,
ENSURING COW DUNG AND URINE
FERTILIZE THE GRASSLANDS
INSTEAD OF ENDING UP
IN THE WATER.

Yves says "I am convinced that our farming practices do not harm the fish in Lac Saint-Pierre, because we don't use any chemical fertilizers or pesticides. We've even created retention ponds to prevent our manure from going into the St. Lawrence River."

The narrator says RESTORING GRASSLANDS,
AND RETURNING TO TRADITIONAL
AGRICULTURAL PRACTICES,
ARE WAYS TO INCREASE
THE SPAWNING HABITAT
AVAILABLE TO YELLOW PERCH
IN THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE
FLOODPLAIN.
BUT THIS MAY NOT BE
THE BIGGEST BENEFIT
WHEN GRASSLANDS
AND HAYFIELDS ARE FLOODED,
THE VEGETATION HOLDS
THE SOIL IN PLACE,
SO IT DOESN'T ERODE
INTO THE LAKE.
WITH ROTATIONAL CROPS,
SUCH AS CORN AND SOY,
THE GROUND IS USUALLY LEFT BARE
AFTER HARVEST IN THE FALL.
WITHOUT GRASSES TO
HOLD IT IN PLACE,
THE TOP LAYER OF SOIL
CAN ERODE INTO THE LAKE
DURING SPRING FLOODS,
TAKING WITH IT AGRICULTURAL
NUTRIENTS AND PESTICIDES.
THERE'S GROWING EVIDENCE
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM
FACING LAC SAINT-PIERRE,
MAY BE WATER QUALITY.

Philippe Brodeur says "Water quality often leaves something to be desired. When we look at the quality parameters, in terms of pesticides, contaminants, solids in suspension, criteria for the protection of aquatic life are very often not met."

The narrator says ABENAKI ELDER, YVON PANADIS,
AGREES WITH THE SCIENTISTS.
HE'S NOTICED A BIG CHANGE IN

Yvon says WHEN I WAS YOUNG,
YOU COULD SEE THE BOTTOM.
YOU COULD DRINK IT.
IT WAS CLEAN.
BUT NOW, DO YOU THINK I WOULD
TAKE A SIP OUT OF THAT WATER?
NO WAY.
SO, DO YOU THINK THAT THE PERCH
WOULD GROW UP? NO.
NO.

The narrator says THE BIGGEST PROBLEM
WITH REDUCED WATER QUALITY,
ISN'T THAT FISH CAN'T SEE,
OR THAT THEY ARE
POISONED BY CHEMICALS.
IT'S THAT
THE AGRICULTURAL RUNOFF
IS CHANGING
THE UNDERWATER ENVIRONMENT.

Philippe says "Historically, the aquatic plant beds in Lac Saint-Pierre were extremely productive feeding habitats for a multitude of fish species. But there has been a documented decline in these submerged aquatic beds in Lac Saint-Pierre over the past fifteen years."

The animated map shows the dramatic reduction in aquatic vegetation abundance from 2007 to 2016.

The narrator says THE WATER QUALITY PROBLEM
MAKES RESTORING THE PERCH
MUCH MORE DIFFICULT,
BECAUSE THE ISSUE DOESN'T LIE
JUST WITH THE 5,000 HECTARES
OF CROPLAND ON
THE PROBLEM ALSO INVOLVES
THE HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS
OF HECTARES OF FARMLAND
THE RIVERS ENTERING
LAC SAINT-PIERRE FLOW THROUGH.

Philippe says "The lake is made up of different rivers that flow side by side. And the water quality of these rivers has deteriorated."

The narrator says IMPROVING
WATER QUALITY ON THIS SCALE
MIGHT SEEM LIKE
AN INSURMOUNTABLE PROBLEM.
EXCEPT THAT PEOPLE HERE,
HAVE DONE IT BEFORE.
THE ST. LAWRENCE RIVER
USED TO BE HIGHLY POLLUTED,
BUT THERE'S BEEN IMPROVEMENTS
IN WASTEWATER MANAGEMENT
FROM COMMUNITIES
AND INDUSTRY ON THE RIVER,
AND THE GREAT LAKES
THAT FEED INTO IT.

Anne-Marie says "When the area was becoming a biosphere reserve, major changes took place. It remained an industrial sector but there was a decrease in the amount of pollutants being released into the river."

Philippe says "Actions have been taken throughout Quebec over the past 30 years. There's been a vast water clean-up program, particularly in urban areas. That has been successful. So, we've recorded decreases, especially in phosphorus levels, in the waters that reach Lac Saint-Pierre."

The narrator says OCCASIONAL SEWAGE DISCHARGES
FROM MONTREAL
NOTWITHSTANDING,
THE WATER FROM
THE ST. LAWRENCE
IS NOW SOME
OF THE CLEANEST WATER
FLOWING INTO
LAC SAINT-PIERRE.
THE PROBLEM OF AGRICULTURAL
RUN-OFF IS A LITTLE DIFFERENT,
AS IT'S NOT AS EASY
TO CAPTURE AND CLEAN
AS WASTEWATER COMING OUT
OF A HOUSE OR A FACTORY.
BUT THERE ARE FARMING PRACTICES
THAT REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF SOIL
AND CHEMICALS ERODING
OFF CROPLANDS.
FARMERS CAN PLANT
GRASSLAND STRIPS,
TO CATCH RUNOFF BEFORE IT
GOES INTO THE WATER SYSTEM.
THEY CAN ALSO PLANT A
SO THERE'S ALWAYS
SOME VEGETATION
HOLDING THE SOIL IN PLACE.
FARMERS CAN BENEFIT
FROM THESE SOLUTIONS,
BECAUSE THEY RESULT
IN FEWER EROSION PROBLEMS,
AND HEALTHIER SOIL.
BUT THEY DO TAKE TIME,
COST MONEY,
AND CAN RESULT
IN A REDUCTION
IN THE AMOUNT
OF LAND AVAILABLE
FOR PLANTING CROPS.
FARMERS LIKE YANNICK KNOW
THINGS WILL NEED TO CHANGE,
BUT THERE IS CONSIDERABLE WORRY
ABOUT THE ECONOMIC IMPACT
AMONG FARMERS,
MOST OF WHOM
OPERATE ON
VERY THIN MARGINS.

Yannick says "We know there'll be change. We know it'll be necessary. But, to be able to deal with it, we'll have no other choice but to receive some assistance. Farmers are under a lot of stress around Lac Saint-Pierre."

The narrator says RESTTORING
THE PERCH WITHOUT HURTING FARMERS,
WILL BE A MAJOR
CHALLENGE.BUT THERE ARE SIGNS
THAT AN EQUITABLE SOLUTION
MAY BE ON THE HORIZON.
BY CONCERNED SCIENTISTS,
ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS
AND LOCAL RESIDENTS,
THE GOVERNMENT OF QUEBEC
ANNOUNCED A 14 MILLION-DOLLAR
FUND FOR LAC SAINT-PIERRE.

Philippe Brodeur says "These never-before seen financial resources around Lac Saint-Pierre will make it possible to put in place solutions to restore ecological functions."

The narrator says SOME OF THE FUNDS
WILL BE USED TO RESEARCH
WHAT FARMING PRACTICES
ARE TRULY COMPATIBLE
WITH THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE
ECOSYSTEM.

Philippe says "The idea is to work with farmers in the region to develop a new model that will be beneficial for farmers, while also restoring some of the ecological functions of the Lac Saint-Pierre floodplain. It's going to be a major challenge. We are well aware of that. It's really a societal issue. But I am convinced that if we all work together, we will develop a model that will be sustainable."

The narrator says THE BULK OF THE FUND
WILL GO TOWARDS MAKING
THE "NEW MODEL" A REALITY.
IT'S EXPECTED TO INCLUDE
SOME COMBINATION
OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE,
AND THE PURCHASE
AND RESTORATION OF AREAS
CURRENTLY UNDER
INTENSIVE CULTIVATION.
CONSERVATION ORGANIZATIONS
ARE READY TO STEP IN AND HELP,
POTENTIALLY MULTIPLYING
THE IMPACT OF THE FUND.

Julien says "I think the government has heard the call and made money available, so now it's up to us to really work with the landowners in the floodplain to come up with either conservation agreements, or improvements to farming practices. I believe that the time has come for conservation in the Lac Saint- Pierre floodplain."

The narrator says THANKS TO THE NEW FUND,
AND COLLECTIVE ACTION
OF DIFFERENT GROUPS
ALL AROUND THE LAKE,
THERE'S A SENSE OF CAUTIOUS
OPTIMISM FOR THE LITTLE PERCH,
AND EVERYTHING
IT REPRESENTS,
IN THE LAC SAINT-PIERRE
BIOSPHERE RESERVE.

Bernard says WE PUSHED TOO HARD
AGAINST THE NATURE,
AND TODAY WE HAVE
A PROBLEM TO SOLVE.
AND WE ARE MOVING
ON A SOLUTION.

Philippe says "Lac Saint-Pierre is truly a jewel because of its rich biodiversity. The yellow perch is an indicator that reflects the health of this ecosystem. So, in my opinion, the ultimate result would be the return of a sustainable yellow perch fishery to Lac Saint-Pierre."

Paul Messier says "I continue commercial fishing because it's in my blood. But I'm still holding out hope that the yellow perch will return... so that I may live again."

A caption reads "For more on the Biosphere of Striking Balance go to www.strikingbalance.ca."

Music plays as the end credits roll.

Director, writer and editor, Zach Melnick.

Producer and graphics, Yvonne Drebert.

Executive producer, Doctor Maureen Reed.

The caption changes to "Major funding for this series has been provided by the Nature Conservancy of Canada."

Copyright 2020, Striking Balance 2 Inc.

Watch: Striking Balance - Lac Saint-Pierre Biosphere Reserve