Cargo moving closer to normal at Montreal and Halifax

Le fret se rapproche de la normale à Montréal et à Halifax



With CN freight services on the East Coast restored last week following the lifting of key Indigenous blockades lasting more than two weeks, the ports of Montreal and Halifax are making progress in reducing cargo backlogs and recapturing normal traffic flows.

"We are seeing improvements and are concentrating now on restoring full fluidity with CN and our terminal operators," said Lane Farguson, Communications of the Port of Halifax.

He also confirmed than an ACL vessel, he Atlantic Star, called Halifax last week. Previously, the port's longest-standing customer had provisionally diverted its vessels to New York and Baltimore.

"Freight trains have been entering and departing from Montreal normally since February 26," said Mélanie Nadeau, spokesperson for the Port of Montreal. "Trains carrying goods from the West (notably grain) are now entering in normal fashion."

Some 2,500 containers still parked in the port areas are expected to shipped out within a few days, Ms. Nadeau said.

"The recovery is moving along nicely," indicated Michael Fratianni, President and CEO of Montreal Gateway Terminals Partnership (MGTP), biggest terminal operator at the Port of Montreal with two facilities.


Port of Vancouver posts small cargo decline in 2019



The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority announced that overall cargo through the port was 144 million metric tonnes in 2019, down 2% from the 2018 record of 147 million metric tonnes but the second highest in port history. Sectors that experienced declines, including foreign petroleum products and domestic forest products, were offset by record growth in other sectors including potash, grain and containers.

"We saw strong trade growth through the port during the first half of 2019 that reached record levels, and a softening in the back half due to various issues affecting global markets," said Robin Silvester, president and chief executive officer of the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority. "Despite these challenges, and during one of the most uncertain years for global trade, we still saw the second highest volume of cargo through the Port of Vancouver to date. This speaks strongly to the diverse number of trading partners and range of cargo handled by terminals at the Port of Vancouver, which ensures the entire port remains resilient, regardless of variations in any one sector or commodity."

Strong global demand for Canadian grain resulted in a new record of 28.3 million metric tonnes for both containerized and bulk cargo, a 3.5% increase over 2018. Increases in wheat, up by 16%, and specialty crops, up by 14%, offset the 19% decrease in canola exports, which was largely due to a 62% decrease in canola exports to China.

While grain products reached record levels in 2019, this sector was the most significantly impacted by tariffs and trade challenges with China, resulting in a 37.3% decrease in grain exports to this economy. In fertilizers, potash exports increased by 2% to a record amount of 9.4 million metric tonnes.


Ottawa unveils 2020 North Atlantic right whale protection measures

Ottawa dévoile les mesures de protection des baleines noires de l'Atlantique Nord pour 2020



Canada's federal government today announced enhanced 2020 measures designed to reduce the risks to North Atlantic right whales from interactions with vessels and fishing gear between April and November. There are some 400 left in the world of the endangered iconic marine mammal.

"For the past several years, the Government of Canada has been working with Canadians and Indigenous peoples through the Oceans Protection Plan to protect our coasts and waterways, while growing the economy," said Transport Minister Marc Garneau. "The North Atlantic right whale can directly benefit from our enhanced protection measures, and we are appreciative of all industries' active participation in their development and with their compliance."

To help prevent whale collisions with vessels, Transport Canada will: re-implement the mandatory speed limit to 10 knots in the western Gulf of St. Lawrence; continue to allow vessels to travel at safe operational speeds in parts of the shipping lanes north and south of Anticosti Island when no North Atlantic right whales are detected in the area.


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."


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