One week ago today, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corp. (SLSMC) marked the opening of the Seaway’s 64th navigation season. The Canada Steamship Lines’ Trillium Class bulk carrier CSL Welland was the first ship to transit through the Welland Canal.
Over the past decade, with investments to modernize and optimize operations, the Seaway has firmed up its position as an essential transportation corridor, helping move products to markets and grow the economy. Its vital contribution was highlighted by dignitaries participating in the opening ceremony, including Omar Alghabra, Canada’s Minister of Transport, Jim Bradley, Niagara Regional Chair and Louis Martel, president and CEO, CSL Group.
“Our government’s top priority is keeping our supply chains moving,” Alghabra said during the opening day ceremony. “The St. Lawrence Seaway is critical to Canada’s economy, supporting over 92,000 jobs and moving $17 billion in trade activity each year. With the end of the winter season, we look forward to once again welcoming ships from around the world back to Canadian waters. As we enter a phase of recovery following the Covid-19 pandemic, we are committed to keeping our economy strong and will continue investing in projects along this essential transportation corridor.”
In 2021, some 38 million tonnes of cargo transited the St. Lawrence Seaway. The SLSMC and the U.S. Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corp. (GLS) are optimistic that the economy will continue to improve. However, the Seaway is ready to adapt to fluctuations in cargo movements which could result from the uncertainty created by how the pandemic, consumer habits and the conflict in Ukraine will evolve in the coming months.
“As the world navigates towards a post-pandemic reality, the SLSMC is ready to do its part to help reinvigorate trade, rebuild Canadian and American industries and create a resilient and more stable supply chain,” said Terence Bowles, president and CEO of the SLSMC.
“Our performance continues to highlight the resiliency of the Great Lakes Seaway maritime supply chain,” said GLS deputy administrator Craig H. Middlebrook. “We look forward to building on last year’s accomplishments.”
The SLSMC contributes to “green transportation” by fostering an increased use of vessels versus other less environmentally efficient modes of transport. “We are also actively working to help further drive sustainability through such activities as producing hydroelectric power and modernizing Seaway equipment,” said Bowles. “As a result of these efforts, the SLSMC has reduced its Green House Gas Emission levels, well ahead of the targets set by the Federal Government for the year 2030. We will continue to support investments and collaborate with the maritime industry to help further reduce Green House Gas emissions.”
Moving forward, a more efficient, sustainable, and resilient maritime industry will emerge as stakeholders, within the maritime industry and from other sectors, work together to further:
- Connect marine infrastructures, cargo shippers, and vessels, making maritime shipping even more integrated in the global supply chain.
- Increase throughput and shipping of goods via waterways by promoting green marine shipping corridors.
- Engage with communities and local governments, including with regard to adapting to water levels and flows affected by climate change, along with supporting industrial development and job-creation along our waterway.