Early tonnage figures show a strong start for the 66th navigation season on the St. Lawrence Seaway, according to Canadian and U.S. managers.

Early fleet positioning due to low winter ice coverage on the Great Lakes jump-started grain and potash traffic, with Canadian and U.S. grain totals increased by 39,000 metric tons over the previous year, totaling approximately 1.21 million metric tons to date.  

Potash traffic posted an increase of 83,000 tons, bringing the total up to 110,000 metric tons. Potash, which includes various mined and manufactured minerals that contain potassium in water-soluble form, is used in fertilizers to support plant growth, increase crop yield and disease resistance, and enhance water preservation.  

"Our dedication to investing in infrastructure renewal lays the foundation for the Seaway’s exceptional reliability. This is critical because marine transportation is the most fuel-efficient and cost-effective method to transport goods,” said Terence Bowles, president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “A recent study showed the marine industry in the Great Lakes/St. Lawrence Seaway region supports almost 360,000 jobs and generates $66.1 billion dollars (CAD) in economic activity.”  

Ongoing winter maintenance investments on the part of the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC), and the U.S. Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (GLS) assure a state of readiness and reliability.  

The SLSMC invested approximately $379 million Canadian from 2019 to 2024 on infrastructure renewal projects on Canadian-held assets, while GLS made comparable investments on U.S.-held assets totaling $225 million U.S. in projects since 2009. 

In addition to operating a safe, reliable, and efficient binational waterway and lock system, the SLSMC and GLS are also working together, in partnership with industry stakeholders, to develop a Green Shipping Corridor Network Initiative, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability, driving collaborative efforts on decarbonization, and shaping a sustainable future for the marine sector.

 “The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway System is vital to the health of the North American economy, the strength of our supply chains, and the quality of our very way of life,” said Adam Tindall-Schlicht, administrator of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation.

 “We appreciate the tremendous responsibility that comes with the operation of this vital infrastructure, and meet it every day with planning, dedication, and ongoing investment to surpass the expectations of businesses and consumers who rely on us every day.  I thank our team and our partners for their continuous efforts and wish all users of the Seaway a successful shipping season.”

Officials say tonnage statistics for the month of May will be issued shortly “and are expected to demonstrate positive trends leading into the first part of the navigation season on the St. Lawrence Seaway.”