The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation says the 2016 season has tied the record for the longest shipping season since the inland waterway was finished in 1959.
The Seaway was open from March 21 to Dec. 31, a navigation season of 286 days. This performance ties the record first established in 2008 and matched in 2013 for the longest navigation season.
The last vessel to transit the Seaway’s Montreal-to-Lake Ontario section was the G3 Marquis which cleared the Iroquois Lock on December 29 at 6:18 PM, heading for Lake Ontario.
Total cargo tonnage was down 3.1 percent for 2016 compared with 2015 figures, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation reported.
Seaway authorities recorded a total of 35 million metric tons of cargo transiting the Seaway’s locks in 2016. Grain movements posted a strong performance for a third consecutive season, contributing 11 million tons of the total and continuing to track well above the five-year average.
The largest category continues to be grain, which was up 419,000 tons from 2015, for a total of 11.278 million tons for 2016.
Down the most for 2016 was the second-largest category, iron ore, which dropped by 13.78 percent or nearly a million tons, from 7.2 million tons in 2015 to 6.2 million tons in 2016.
“The final tonnage statistics for the 2016 Seaway navigation season are a validation of the importance of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway System to the economy of North America’s ‘Opportunity Belt.’” said U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Administrator Betty Sutton.
For the future, Sutton said, “the movement of containers with high value project cargo is an area where we foresee continued growth.”