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St. Lawrence Seaway 2023 season opens March 22


The opening date for the 2023 navigation season on the St. Lawrence Seaway has been scheduled for 0800 hours on March 22 on both the Welland Canal and Montreal-Lake Ontario sections.

Ship transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions, the Canadian and US Seaway agencies announced. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.

Opening of the Sault Ste. Marie Locks (U.S.A.) is currently scheduled for March 25, 2023.

In the Montreal / Lake Ontario Section, the maximum allowable draft will be 80.0 dm (26′ 3″). The maximum draft will be increased to 80.8 dm (26′ 6″) for all ships when the South Shore Canal is ice-free and when water levels are favorable. In the Welland Canal, a maximum allowable draft of 80.8 dm (26′ 6″) will be in effect from the start of the navigation season for all ships.

Ships equipped with an approved and operational draft information system will be permitted to transit at a draft of up to 7cm above the maximum allowable draft. There will be zero tolerance for ships to transit at drafts in excess of those specified.

Last year, Seaway cargo declined by 5% to 36.2 million tonnes. Substantial declines were recored in general cargo, coal and iron ore while potash shipments doubled as Canadian and US responded to fertilizer demand as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Seaway officials anticipate a strong start to the 2023 season thanks to a bumper 2022 harvest in Canada’s Prairie provinces.

(Photo SLSMC)