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Great Lakes-Seaway Shipping Adds $16 billion to Canadian Economy


Ottawa, Ontario (October 18, 2011)— Cargo shipments to ports on the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway navigation system generate $34.6 billion of economic activity and 227,000 jobs in Canada and the U.S., according to a new study released today. That breaks down to 98,000 jobs and $15.9 billion in economic activity in Ontario and Quebec. 

The study, which is the first to reveal the economic value of the entire bi-national Great Lakes-Seaway System and its more than 100 ports, was simultaneously unveiled today by the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation in Ottawa and by U.S. Deputy Secretary of Transportation John D. Porcari in Washington, D.C.

Terrence Bowles, president and CEO of the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, said: “The economic benefits of Great Lakes-Seaway shipping are far-reaching.  Not only is marine shipping creating jobs in Canadian communities, but marine-related industries and employees are contributing significantly to the general prosperity of Canadian society by providing $4.6 billion in personal income. In addition, North American farmers, steel producers, construction firms, food manufacturers and power generators depend on the 164 million metric tons of iron ore, coal, stone, salt, sugar, grain, steel, wind turbines and machinery that are delivered by ships every year to keep their businesses running.”

Canadian shipping executives said that the new data would help inform government policymakers, particularly New York State regulators that will in 14 months’ time be enforcing stringent new ballast water treatment standards for ships transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway that scientists have said are currently technologically unachievable. The study shows that New York State’s incoming ballast water regulations for ships transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway could impact 72,000 jobs and $10.7 billion of economic activity in the two countries. Canada would be the most severely affected with the potential loss of 55,000 of those jobs and $8.5 billion of those business revenues in Ontario and Quebec. 

For the past year, the Canadian government and the marine industry have been working together to discuss their concerns with U.S. officials.

“Canada and the United States share a mandate to protect our waters from invasive species while facilitating safe and clean marine transportation,” said Mr. Pierre Poilievre, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities and for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario. “This study underscores the importance of an internationally compatible approach to managing ballast water discharges in the waters we share with the United States.”

Despite the Great Lakes-Seaway having the most stringent regulations in the world to prevent introductions of invasive species, New York State’s regulations will require all ships transiting its waters to install treatment equipment to sterilize its ballast water to a standard that is 100 to 1000 times international standards. Scientists working for the U.S. government and the State of Wisconsin have both concluded that no technology currently exists to achieve this standard.  As all ships must sail through New York waters to pass though the St. Lawrence Seaway to the Great Lakes, the regulations would effectively choke off all trade through the St. Lawrence Seaway.

Greg Wight, chief executive of Algoma Central Corporation, the largest Canadian ship operator on the Great Lakes-Seaway system, said: “The Canadian government has been very supportive in helping industry discuss these concerns with U.S. regulators. And politicians from other Great Lakes states that would be harmed by New York’s rules have also been campaigning against them.  We also know that the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will in November be coming out with a proposed national standard for ballast water treatment. We are hopeful that recent scientific evidence and today’s economic numbers will convince New York to rethink its legislation and work with industry and U.S. and Canadian governments to come up with harmonized, science-based regulations that will protect the environment and the economy.”

St. Catharines-based Algoma Central and Montreal-based Fednav Limited are among a number of domestic and international shipowners that have recently committed more than $1 billion to bring a new generation of super-efficient, environmentally-friendly vessels to the Great Lakes-Seaway System over the next three years.

Paul Pathy, president and co-CEO of Fednav Limited, the largest ocean-going ship operator on the Great Lakes-Seaway system, said:  “We believe that the Great Lakes-Seaway has a strong future.  Business has recovered significantly from the recession-driven lows of 2009 and opportunities are arising from changes in global trade patterns.  The marine shipping industry is investing heavily in new technologies to reduce our environmental footprint and we have been following ballast water management practices that have been very successful.  No new invasive species due to ballast water have been discovered since 2006.  The shipping industry would like to see bi-national harmonized regulations that are both practical and protective.”

About the Study

The study, which uses 2010 data, was carried out by respected economic consultants Martin Associates of Lancaster, Pennsylvania and peer reviewed in Canada by Dr. John Lawson, Research Associate of the University of British Columbia Centre for Transport Studies. The peer review process in Canada was overseen by Transport Canada. To ensure the most accurate measurement of Great Lakes-Seaway system impacts, the study excludes impacts created by international or domestic maritime commerce through St. Lawrence River ports in Quebec, where cargo does not transit the St. Lawrence Seaway lock system to and from the upper lakes. For example, trade between European ports and the Port of Montreal is not included in the impact analysis. The full executive summary and study is available at




About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) is a bi-national association that represents diverse marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as Canadian domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system's significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.

Media Contact:
Jason Card
Chamber of Marine Commerce
(613) 447 5401