Great Lakes shipping industry rebounding from recession

Published On: Feb 13 2013 10:47:20 AM EST   Updated On: Feb 13 2013 12:41:49 PM EST

The shipping industry in the Great Lakes region is recovering from the extreme lows experienced in 2009, according to a report released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Maritime Administration.

The report says the Great Lakes maritime industry is healthy and providing safe and environmentally friendly transportation services. It also said the industry is competitive with railways and trucks and, it is an essential part of the regional and national economies.

"This study shows that the recovery happening in communities all across the country is also happening right here in the Great Lakes, with cargos rebounding from the low levels reached in 2009," said U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood.  "It confirms what we’ve long known – that the Great Lakes fleet provides efficient, safe and environmentally sound transportation services that remain competitive with other modes of freight transportation."

The study looked at a broad range of issues relevant to the water transportation industry. 

It provided information on U.S. vessels, ports, shipyards, cargo markets, emissions and ballast water regulations, dredging, regional planning, and other factors, with a focus on large dry bulk vessels, known as "Lakers." 

The report notes that in 2009, the Great Lakes maritime industry suffered from several challenging conditions, including a 33 percent drop in cargos due to the recession. 

The moderate recovery in waterborne cargoes since that time, aided by the recovery of the automobile and steel industries, is providing support to the water transportation industry. 

Precious Cargo:

Iron ore, the single most important cargo for U.S.-flag Lakers, has almost fully recovered to pre-recession levels. 

With the exception of coal, the major cargos of iron ore and limestone on the Great Lakes are projected to grow with the economy over the next several years. 

Coal cargos have not recovered since the recession.

"The Department of Transportation is committed to a strong future for the maritime industry, and the Great Lakes fleet is an extremely important part of that future," said Maritime Administrator David Matsuda.  "This study helps the Agency and our industry partners better understand what we need to do to needed to keep Great Lakes shipping competitive and responsive to regional needs."

The Maritime Administration works to strengthen the maritime transportation system in the U.S. to meet the economic and security needs of the country.

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