SEAWAY OFFICIALLY OPENS 48th NAVIGATION SEASON TODAY
(St. Lambert, Québec, March 23, 2006) — The Montreal/Lake Ontario section of the St. Lawrence Seaway officially opened today for its 48th shipping season with the transit of the M/V Beluga Emotion at the St. Lambert Lock. Destined for Valleyfield where the vessel will take on a load of cement pipe, the 9,611 deadweight tonne multi-purpose cargo vessel has a complement of 16 sailors. Today’s ceremonies followed the opening of the Welland Canal on March 21st, the earliest start ever for the Canal, which marked the commencement of its 75th year of operation.
Having completed a successful season in 2005 with 43.3 million tonnes of traffic, the Seaway is pressing ahead with a number of initiatives in 2006. “In 2005, we consolidated the gains we made in 2004, while moving into a number of new markets” noted Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation. “Given the steep growth in cargo volumes straining land based arteries, we see real potential to use our Hwy H2O for short sea shipping operations as a means to complement existing intermodal connections.”
The flexible toll structure introduced in 2005 to encourage smaller shipments via the Welland Canal resulted in over 215,000 tonnes of new cargo coming into our system. In 2006, we have expanded this program to cover our entire Seaway system by eliminating the Gross Registered Tonnage charge for new cargo on the Montreal/Lake Ontario section. Our Hwy H2O campaign will feature a series of workshops on cargo and a conference focusing on, amongst other topics, the means to finance construction of new vessels and infrastructure within the system. In addition, a trade mission to China will explore avenues to route freight via East Coast ports and the Seaway to complement the existing routes that are plagued by congestion.
At the ceremony, Richard Corfe was joined by his U.S. counterpart, Albert Jacquez, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, in marking the Seaway’s participation in the Green Marine initiative. “Quality of life should be an important aspect within every policy decision, and our marine highway can make a major contribution to lessening the chronic congestion on our roads and border crossings, improving air quality, and reducing energy consumption, as the marine mode is the most fuel efficient mode of transportation” emphasized Mr. Corfe.