Chamber of Marine Commerce criticizes Seaway later opening dates than last year

La Chambre de commerce maritime critique la date d'ouverture tardive de la Voie maritime



Due to the evolution of water levels on Lake Ontario, the Canadian and U.S. St. Lawrence Seaway authorities announced later opening dates in 2020 than 2019 for commercial navigation on the Welland Canal and the Montreal-Lake Ontario section. The decision drew rapid criticism from the Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC).

The opening dates are respectively March 24 (versus March 22) for the Welland Canal and April 1 (versus March 26) for the MLO section. Opening of the Sault Ste. Marie Locks and Canals is currently scheduled for March 25. The North American waterway handled 38 million metric tons of cargo in 2019, compared with 41 million tons in 2018.

The opening of the navigation season in the Montreal-Lake Ontario (MLO) section of the St. Lawrence Seaway has been delayed to April 1 to allow more outflow from Moses-Saunders dam to lower Lake Ontario water levels, remarked the CMC. With little ice coverage, the MLO section of the St. Lawrence Seaway could have opened as early as March 20.  As many as 100 ship transits could have moved during that 12 days, the CMC asserted.

"We're very disappointed with this delay.  It's time for politicians to start working with all the affected residents, businesses and shipping stakeholders on smart, effective solutions for high water levels.  Delaying, shutting down or interrupting American, Canadian and international trade on the St. Lawrence Seaway and further damaging the economy and our nations' global trading reputation should never be an option," said Bruce Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.  "This dam is a very limited tool that does not solve this problem.  We need to work together to develop a much broader, holistic resiliency plan that looks at every avenue including flood zoning, shoreline resiliency and infrastructure investments."


Industry executives seek high water solution to protect Seaway trade corridor

Les dirigeants de l'industrie recherchent une solution pour protéger le couloir commercial de la Voie maritime de la crue élevée



Ottawa, ON - Marine shipping executives are calling on government officials to protect the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway trade corridor by working with stakeholders to develop solutions that do not rely on one ineffective dam to solve high water levels across the Great Lakes. The issue, which has already cost the economy millions of dollars, was a top priority as representatives across Canada's business sectors met today with federal government officials during Marine Day on the Hill, organized by the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

High water levels have been negatively impacting shoreline residents and businesses, including those that depend on Seaway shipping.

"Going forward, we need to get together to develop a much broader, holistic resiliency plan that can address stakeholder needs and deliver actual, real results. It's time for politicians to start working with all the affected residents, businesses and shipping stakeholders on smart, effective solutions for high water levels," said Bruce Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce.

The CMC understands the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River board (ILORB) is currently considering raising outflows at the Moses-Saunders dam to a level that would lead to delaying the opening of navigation through the Montreal-Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway - an unprecedented move.  With little ice coverage being experienced this year, typically the shipping season would open around March 20.

"Shutting down or interrupting Canadian, American and international trade on the St. Lawrence Seaway and further damaging the economy and our nation's global trading reputation should never be an option," said Mr. Burrows. "Given the current disruption impacting Canada's national railways, we certainly do not need any delays of transportation of critical supplies and products along this important trade corridor."



Transportation paralysis spreading across Canada as Indigenous protests escalate



Container pile-ups at the key ports of Vancouver, Montreal and Halifax were reaching critical dimensions Tuesday as anti-pipeline protests and demonstrations in solidarity with Wet'suwet' hereditary chiefs spread across Canada. In the vicinity of the Port of Vancouver alone, more than 50 ships are sitting at anchor, while some carriers are diverting their vessels from the Port of Halifax.

In northern British Columbia, members of the Gitxsan Nation resurrected a blockade Monday night near New Hazelton, disrupting CN rail service to the Port of Prince Rupert. But RCMP broke up the demonstration and made arrests.

And in Vancouver police were moving to enforce an injunction on a blockade at the entrance of the Port of Vancouver by protesters at the intersection of Hastings and Clark streets.

"While we respect the right to a peaceful protest, the port authority has a federal responsibility to ensure the safe and efficient movement of Canada's trade through the port," said Danielle Jang, spokesperson for the Port of Vancouver, which handles the great bulk of Canada's trade with Asia.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that confidential talks brokered by the federal government led to CN and CP Rail co-operating to bypass the critical Tyendinaga blockade site near Belleville, Ontario in order to transport vital supplies to communities. (photo Port of Vancouver)


IMO working group recommends ban on heavy fuel oil in Arctic shipping

Le groupe de travail de l'OMI recommande l'interdiction du mazout lourd dans le transport maritime dans l'Arctique



In a landmark decision reached at the end of last week in London, a working group of the International Maritime Organization has recommended a global ban on the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) by ships sailing in Arctic waters, with some notable exceptions, beginning on July 1, 2024. The decision by the Sub-Committee on Pollution Prevention and Response now moves for consideration and approval by the IMO's Marine Environmental Protection Committee 76 this autumn.

Earlier last week, Canada had confirmed it would end its opposition to banning HFO (drawing sharp criticism from NEAS, a major Canadian provider of Arctic sealift services). This had left Russia as the sole holdout among the eight Arctic states. But the draft document allows Arctic states to waive the ban for vessels flying their own national flags while traveling in their domestic waters until July 1, 2029.

This was a significant concession to secure Russian support. Shipping volume along Russia's Northern Sea Route (NSR) has multiplied ten-fold in the past decade.
In addition, all double-hulled vessels - ships that have two layers of watertight hull - are also exempt from the ban until the middle of 2029.



ACL diverts calls from Halifax



With Indigenous rail blockades on the CN network entering a third week, the cascading effect on cargo flows at the Port of Halifax has prompted Atlantic Container Line (ACL), the port's longest standing customer, to provisionally re-route its calls to New York or Baltimore on the US East Coast - starting this weekend. This follows the announcement that Hapag-Lloyd, another major container customer, is exploring options "to move/divert cargo out of Halifax."

Meanwhile, an estimated 4,000 containers are parked at the docks of the Port of Montreal and the line-up of ships in Vancouver has attained four dozen.

"For two weeks now, it's come to a grinding halt, so a lot of our customers are just fed up," said Andrew Abbott, President and CEO of the New Jersey-based carrier. For five decades, ACL vessels have been calling at the Nova Scotia port which handles some 500,000 TEUs annually via two container terminals. CN is the sole rail service linking Halifax with Central Canada and the US Midwest.

"All inbound cargo is piling up on our docks, and cargo destined for export is unable to get here," Lane Farguson, Communications Advisor of the Halifax Port Authority, told Maritime Magazine. "The cascading effect is building up daily."

"We are a rail-line port, with 60% of cargo railed to and from Ontario and the U.S. Midwest," Mr. Farguson added.

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