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Restigouche River Estuary (NB001)


Restigouche River Estuary (NB001)

Dalhousie, New Brunswick

Latitude 48.074°N
Longitude 66.470°W
Altitude 0m
Area 150.83km²

Site Description

The Restigouche River Estuary, which is located on the south side of the Gaspe Peninsula, eventually widens into Chaleur Bay on the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The boundary between the provinces of New Brunswick and Quebec is located down its middle.

Locally, the site can be identified as the area between McLeods Siding to the west, the west wharf of Dalhousie to the east, and extending north to the Quebec shoreline. The width of this area varies from four to six km and is approximately 15 km in length.

The river estuary is generally shallow with an average depth of less than three to four metres. A deeper channel is located down the middle. Much of the substrate on the south side of the Estuary is comprised of submerged mud flats that have concentrations of mussels and other marine life. The water is of sufficient salinity to support a diversity of marine life.


The Restigouche River Estuary is identified as an Important Bird Area primarily due to the number of Black Scoters that stage there during spring migration. During the last few years over 11,000 Black Scoters have been observed in the Estuary between mid to late April and the end of May. It has been reported that the birds arrive within 24 hours of ice-out and consistent numbers remain until the end of May (i.e., there is no gradual buildup or decline). This number of birds represents between 3% and 14% of the eastern North American population (the status and size of the population is poorly known).

In addition to Black Scoters, the Estuary is also used as a staging area by Surf Scoters, Northern Gannets, Snow Geese, Red-breasted Mergansers and (to a lesser degree) Common Mergansers. During the breeding season at least five pairs of Osprey make use of the Estuary with Common Eiders also using it as a feeding area.

Conservation Issues

The Dalhousie Region previously handled oil, mining concentrates and chemical products from the local chemical plant and also used large shipments of paper products. However, the papermill and chemical were shut down in 2008 and most of the infrastructure has now been removed. Today, the paper mill site is only used for five-six yearly on-loading shipments of wood chips that are prepared off-site. The only remaining heavy industry usage of the whole lower Restigouche River and Estuary is from the Altholville Paper Mill. The paper mill ships products via the Port at Belledune which is around 80 kilometers east and downstream. Effluent from that mill was examined after concerns were expressed in 2016 and was determined to be non-toxic and biodegradable cellulose based. Overall, the IBA seen had a positive impact because of the shut-downs in the area.

IBA Criteria Habitats Land Uses Potential or Ongoing Threats Conservation Status
Black Scoter
Number Year Season
Barrow's Goldeneye
Number Year Season