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The St. Lawrence Seaway is ready to welcome marine traffic

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Dry Bulk,

The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) has announced the opening of its 63rd navigation season. The CSL Group’s Baie St. Paul, a Trillium class Laker, was the first ship through the St. Lambert Lock in a virtual opening ceremony attended by a number of dignitaries, including the Honourable Omar Alghabra, the Canadian Minister of Transport, and the Honourable Pete Buttigieg, US Secretary of Transportation.

With its impressive reliability, reduced ecological footprint and strong safety record, the Seaway is ready to partner with Canadian and US industries and communities to help the global economy recover.

Driving North American and international trade

“The St. Lawrence Seaway has been a cornerstone of Canada's economic success for more than 60 years, through the creation of thousands of middle-class jobs, and the generation of more than CAN$9 billion in Canadian economic activity,” said the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Omar Alghabra. “This valuable partnership and trade route will play a vital role in our efforts to building back better through strong economic recovery.”

“The Seaway’s consistently high level of system availability contributes to a robust, competitive Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway transportation route,” declared Terence Bowles, President and Chief Executive Officer of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “We provide convenient access to an impressive number of industries, ports, highway and rail networks.”

Moving forward, the Corporation will continue working with national and international carriers and shipping companies to maximise opportunities to diversify its cargo base and increase volumes, as well as reinforce its reputation as a leader in the North American transportation system.

“Commercial navigation on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System is an economic foundation of the US and Canadian economies,” said Craig H. Middlebrook, Deputy Administrator of the US Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation. “A ship transiting the Seaway’s 15 locks from Montreal to Lake Erie crosses the international border 27 times, and the US Department of Transportation and Transport Canada work closely together to ensure that this transit experience is as safe and seamless as possible.”

Some 38 million t of cargo transited the St. Lawrence Seaway in 2020, which closely matched the previous year’s results. The stringent protocols put in place by the Seaway and by carriers early in the pandemic resulted in no interruption in service due to COVID-19. The protocols will remain in place until the pandemic is contained.

Feeding the world and supporting industry

It is expected that there will be an uptick in global economic growth in 2021. On the heels of last year’s record harvests, grain shipments are expected to be strong early in the season. Iron ore and steel will be shipped via the Seaway to factories in Canada and abroad, and massive wind farm equipment will continue to be transported via the Seaway.

A resilient partner

More and more industries are turning to maritime transport because of its reliability, and its smaller carbon footprint makes it the greenest, most forward-looking transportation option.

The introduction of hands-free mooring systems and the remote operation of locks are examples of the Seaway’s technological innovations aimed at increasing the competitiveness of the waterway. “As a major partner in the maritime industry, the Corporation is always seeking ways to innovate and reduce the environmental impact of maritime transport, to offer improved client experience and to broaden its competitive advantage,” said Bowles, “for example the automatic identification system that tracks ships via satellite and makes it possible to manage operations remotely, the draught information system, which allows ships to carry up to 400 additional t per trip and the hands-free mooring system.”

Annually, substantial economic value is provided to the communities where the Seaway offices and structures are located through direct employment, as well as the many construction projects that employ local contractors. The Seaway also benefits individuals, businesses and municipalities, providing recreational opportunities, supplying water and hydroelectricity and helping to manage flood risk.

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