Northumberland Strait - Environmental Monitoring Partnership (NorST-EMP) 

NORST EMP fishingThe Northumberland Strait separates Prince Edward Island from New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence. The strait extends 225 km and has a width ranging between 13 km and 43 km. There are many plants, fish and invertebrates in the Northumberland Strait, as well as seals, leatherback turtles and lobsters. The Strait is also known for having warm water temperatures during the summer due to its shallow depths.

Challenges related to water management in this watershed

In the late 1990's, there were reported negative effects in the water that coincided with the timing of the development of the Confederation Bridge. These effects included a decline in lobsters and herring in the central strait, which were not reported in other parts of the southern Gulf. The Strait has seen declines in fish stocks and environmental degradation in its rivers, estuaries and the Strait itself over the past two decades.

The main challenge in this watershed is to better understand human activities on land to effects found in estuaries, and how this all affects the Northumberland Strait.

CWN-funded work and who is involved

NORST EMP in a boatThe work being node in the Northumberland Strait will identify biological monitoring endpoints and techniques to examine the effects of land-based nutrients, sediments and contaminants along the Northumberland Strait to develop a monitoring framework for the region.

The Northumberland Strait Environmental Monitoring Partnership (NorSt–EMP), a partnership of government, industry and non-governmental organizations, was formed in 2011 to address the need for a monitoring framework to support cumulative effects assessment in the region. The highest priority concerns for monitoring are the influx of sediments, contaminants and nutrients from land-based activities that degrade the rivers, estuaries and the coastal regions of the Strait. The priority valued ecosystem components identified were the region’s estuarine biota, particularly its submerged aquatic plants, invertebrates and fish — all of which directly or indirectly support coastal fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and recreation in the Strait.

NorSt-EMP requires not only a better understanding of the links between human activities and the environmental changes that have been observed in the Northumberland Strait, but also a better understanding of expected changes because of climate change and rising sea levels.

The following researchers are conducting research through CWN's NorSt-EMP:

  • Dr. Michael van den Heuvel, University of Prince Edward Island
  • Dr. Kerry MacQuarrie, University of New Brunswick
  • Dr. André St-Hilaire, INRS, Université du Québec
  • Mr. Gary Budgen, Bedford Institute of Oceanography
  • Dr. Herb Vandermeulen, Bedford Institute of Oceanography
  • Dr. Yefang Jiang, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada
  • Dr. Siu O’Young, Memorial University 

NORST EMP presentation


(5-page report)

CWN EN NorthumberlandStrait 2016