The AZMP was implemented in 1998 with the aim of collecting and analyzing the biological, chemical, and physical data to detect and monitor seasonal and interannual variability in eastern Canadian waters. The key element of the AZMP sampling strategy is the oceanographic sampling at fixed stations (every two weeks, conditions permitting) and along sections (1–3 times per year). Field sampling and ... laboratory analyses are carried out following well-established common protocols.
AZMP Quebec region
For the St. Lawrence ecosystem, scientists from IML have developed a sampling plan that includes seven transects with a total of 46 stations to cover the Gulf and estuary. This set of stations has been sampled two to three times a year since 1996 (usually in the spring and the fall), thus giving quasi-synoptic views of the oceanographic conditions in the St. Lawrence.
IML scientists also sample two fixed stations in the Gulf of St. Lawrence off shore of Ste-Marthe de Gaspé. The station nearest the coast is the Gaspé Current station; it is located about 4 km off the south shore of the St. Lawrence, in the middle of the Gaspé Current. This station gives information on the oceanographic conditions of the water leaving the St. Lawrence estuary. A second station, called the Anticosti Gyre, is located about 60 km from the Gaspé coast and was chosen to provide information on the oceanographic conditions of the more oceanic waters of the Gulf. Due to its location, this station is not influenced by water leaving the St. Lawrence estuary or by freshwater inputs from tributaries to the St. Lawrence.
These two stations have been sampled year-round since 1996 at frequencies from 12 to 20 times per year, depending on ship availability (ship time is most often furnished by Canadian Coast Guard "ships of opportunity.")
A third fixed station is the Rimouski station, located about 20 km off shore of Rimouski. This station has been sampled one a week between May and October since 1992. The data collected from this station can also serve to complete and validate to some degree the data collected at the Gaspé Current station. In the spring, these stations are also the mooring sites of a series of instrumented buoys that transmit oceanographic data in real-time until the fall.
Temperature, salinity, chlorophyll a, nutrients, and dissolved oxygen as well as phytoplankton and zooplankton biomass are regularly sampled at all AZMP stations.
A comprehensive environmental monitoring program, building on existing monitoring activities, was designed and implemented in 1999 for the northwestern Atlantic with the aim of increasing the Department of Fisheries and Ocean's (DFO) capacity to understand, describe, and forecast the state of the ocean environment and marine ecosystem and to relate those changes to the predator-prey relationships ... of marine resources. Environmental monitoring should provide the data sets that are necessary to: (1) track and predict changes in productivity and ocean state; (2) respond to immediate questions posed by clients; (3) alert clients to short- and long-term environmental/ecosystem changes; and (4) provide adequate historical databases to address future issues. For example, environmental monitoring is needed to understand environment-fisheries interactions; to detect trends in climate changes as a basis for rational predictions; to validate oceanographic models; and to provide historical and on-line data for development and exploitation activities in fisheries, oil and gas, and marine transportation