Special Message from Both Seaway Entities
April 15, 2002
Special Message from Both Seaway Entities
As the 2002 navigation season gets underway, we want to bring you up to date on some of our major projects. The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) and the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) have spent considerable time, effort, and resources over the last 12 months in areas that will deliver both immediate and long-term benefits to you, our customer. Our vision for the waterway is simple: maximize the Seaway’s current assets and plan for the Seaway’s future as a safe, efficient, reliable, and growing commercial waterway. We believe the actions we have taken and are planning to take will ensure that our vision is realized.
Experience has shown that harnessing today’s leading-edge maritime technology reaps a rich harvest of benefits tomorrow. The Seaway entities, along with the Canadian Shipowners Association, the Shipping Federation of Canada, and their members, have embraced the Automatic Identification System (AIS). Next month, AIS will become operational. The benefits of this satellite-based vessel navigation system for commercial vessels will flow to all Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System stakeholders. Reduced delays, greater safety, increased security and better logistical management of ship and dock assets are just four of these benefits, and each spells efficiency in an increasingly cost-conscious world.
We have eagerly set about using the Internet to provide business applications for our customers. This past year, we have improved the Seaway’s binational web site (www.greatlakes-seaway.com) by developing three new e-business interactive features: a cost calculator which will allow customers to estimate costs for tolls, pilotage and other charges; a cargo matching system to advertise available vessels and cargoes; and e-transaction facilities that will allow customers to submit pre-clearance forms and view their account information on-line. All three will be available in May 2002, and we are confident that they will attract new customers with their user-friendly features. In addition, a new e-mail broadcasting service sends e-mail alerts to registered users when new and timely operational information is posted to the site.
Our highest priority is ensuring the safety and reliability of our Seaway locks and channels. Last year we posted fewer traffic delays than in 2000, and the average 98.3 % system availability rate that we’ve maintained for the last five years is proof-positive that our maritime system is highly dependable for the movement of goods from opening day to season end. Keeping the system competitive is essential, and 2001 was the fourth successive year in which the SLSMC met its business plan targets – an accomplishment of universal interest, as it meant offsetting a mandatory annual 2 % toll increase with a 1.5 % rebate.
Despite low water levels in recent years, the Seaway has managed to maintain its maximum draft of 26 feet, 3 inches (8 meters). Channel maintenance, planned for this year, is a first step to enable a potential increase of 3 inches next year. This 3-inch increase in draft will allow Seaway-max ships to carry approximately 300 more metric tonnes of cargo per transit.
There are many reasons to be optimistic about the future of the Seaway. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Great Lakes Navigation Study Reconnaissance Study Phase is nearing its end. The following Feasibility Study Phase will require substantial funding, and our organizations have been busy working towards the goal of making the U.S. and Canadian Governments full partners on this project of immense importance to the Seaway’s future. We are confident that partnership will be achieved.
Commercial navigation and environmental protection need not be mutually exclusive interests. The implementation last week of a joint SLSDC-SLSMC regulatory proposal for mandatory industry ballast water management practices compliance as a prerequisite to Seaway clearance shows our determination to find, through partnering, standards that are reasonable and effective in protecting both.
At the end of the day, we know that the future of the Seaway depends on all of us: government, industry, and the millions of citizens on both sides of the U.S.-Canadian border who call North America’s industrial heartland ‘home’ and depend upon this vital System for diverse economic and recreational purposes. Never has this partnership been stronger – evidence is the development last year of a joint strategic business development plan by the Seaway entities and the close working relationship between all stakeholders in the system.
Finally, unprecedented coordination among local, state, federal and provincial officials responsible for maritime security has increased the safety and security of everyone in the aftermath of 9/11.
We believe you will agree that 2001 has laid the groundwork for exciting and potentially historic changes in the Seaway. We are committed to using technology, to improving commerce and protecting the environment, and to strengthening partnerships. Communication among all Seaway stakeholders is essential to achieve those and many other important tasks. We wish all of you a safe and prosperous 2002 navigation season, and invite you to share your ideas with us on building a better St. Lawrence Seaway.