The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) announced a toll rate increase of 2.5 per cent for the 2014 navigation season. The new revised tariff is available on its website.

The Corporation also announced that the Seaway closed for the season on January 1, 2014. The Seaway was open for 286 days, given an opening date of March 22.

Separately, The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation announced traffic results for the period ended December 31, 2013. For the year to date, the Seaway carried 2.1 million fewer tonnes of cargo, compared with the same period in 2012, representing a loss of 5.3 per cent, to 37.0 million tonnes. The smallest cargo loss was in the carriage of coal, which product category lost 2.7 per cent in tonnage. General cargo losses represented 20.4 per cent. The only category to gain cargo was liquid bulk, which advanced by 11.9 per cent. Iron ore, the single most important commodity carried by the Seaway, lost 412,000 tonnes to 9.9 million tonnes.

A relatively late harvest in the Prairies producing record breaking volumes led to a delay in the movement of grain. Once the grain began to move, the Seaway played a key role in enabling farmers to move their crops to market, contributing to a surge in Seaway cargo during the month of December. Despite the cold snap enveloping much of North America, a total of 4.4 million tonnes of cargo moved through the Seaway in December, exceeding last year’s December volume by 130,000 tonnes, and eclipsing the five year December average by some 20 per cent. Nevertheless, the late surge could not prevent total grain volumes through the Seaway to decline by 3.2 per cent for the year, to 8.4 million tonnes.

“The record breaking crop proved to be both a bounty for farmers and a logistical challenge for the grain handling industry” said Terence Bowles, President and CEO of SLSMC. “Once again, marine carriers moving grain through the Seaway proved to be an invaluable part of the transportation network, enabling farmers to reach markets that they may otherwise not have been able to profit from. While we had planned to close the season on December 30, the unusually cold weather brought about transit delays, necessitating two additional days of operation. We are particularly proud of our employees who worked tirelessly during late December’s frigid conditions, to enable vessels to finish their transits.”

The influx of new state-of-the art vessels, purpose built for Seaway use, continued during the 2013 navigation season.  Boasting sharp increases in fuel efficiency and reductions in emission levels, these new vessels are part of a billion-dollar fleet renewal effort being undertaken by both domestic and ocean carriers. Combined with a $400 million program underway at SLSMC to renew infrastructure, these investments testify to the Seaway’s enduring value and the faith of both carriers and the government in its future.