The initial Blue Accounting maritime transportation website presents an updated inventory of maritime assets and cargo volumes moving through the system. In 2018, the Blue Accounting team will work with the Regional Maritime Entity and leaders from the maritime industry to identify and track additional economic and environmental indicators that show progress toward goals laid out in the Strategy for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Maritime Transportation System.
Our goal is to double maritime trade, shrink the environmental impact of our transportation network, and support the region’s industrial core through policies, programs and projects designed to:
- Increase efficiency and reduce costs
- Build new markets
- Grow economic activity around the maritime system
- Deliver results while managing for the future
A strategy to strengthen our regional maritime transportation system
The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River form the longest deep-draft inland navigation system in the world, stretching 2,300 miles into the North American heartland. It links more than 100 U.S. and Canadian ports to the world economy, moves 181 million tons of cargo annually, generates more than 225,000 jobs and $34 billion in business revenue, and supports industries such as manufacturing, steel production, agriculture and power generation. The system is vital for our national economy as well, with nearly all of the iron ore needed for U.S. steel production passing through the Soo Locks, which connect Lake Superior to the other four Great Lakes. To ensure the continued viability of commercial navigation, we must maintain and invest in harbors, ports, shipping channels, locks and related infrastructure throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River system, including regular dredging.
In June 2016, the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers released their Strategy for the Great Lakes- St. Lawrence River Maritime Transportation System, which established shared priorities and recommended policies, programs and projects to invigorate the regional maritime transportation system. The strategy’s objectives are to double maritime trade, shrink the system’s environmental impact, and support the region’s industrial core. Blue Accounting is working to establish metrics, collect data, and track progress toward achieving the goals set in the regional maritime strategy. Initial elements include an updated and expanded inventory of maritime assets and tracking cargo volumes moving in the system.
Why It Matters
Satellite Image of Great Lakes
The Great Lakes maritime transportation system extends 2,300 miles into the North American heartland and links more than 100 U.S. and Canadian ports to the world economy.
Source: Google Earth
Aerial image of the Soo Locks
Nearly all of the iron ore used in U.S. steel production must pass through the Soo Locks, which connect Lake Superior to the other four Great Lakes. Approximately 10,000 ships use the locks each year.
Photo of ship
On average, shipping is 14% more fuel efficient than rail, nearly 600% more fuel efficient than trucking, and saves consumers $3.6 billion over other transportation modes. The largest Great Lakes ships can carry as much cargo as 700 rail cars or 2,800 trucks, reducing congestion on railroads and highways.·
Source: Port of Green Bay
In 2016, the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers called for better tracking of maritime shipping data in the region. In response, Blue Accounting is working with state and provincial leaders, academia, and private organizations to collect, analyze, and present regional maritime data.
The Great Lakes Commission is collaborating with the Conference of Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Governors and Premiers to implement the 2016 Strategy for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Maritime Transportation System. The strategy recommends actions to maintain and expand the maritime transportation system and establishes a Regional Maritime Entity to coordinate state and provincial actions.
How We Work
The Blue Accounting maritime team is working with key, binational stakeholders to collect and present data and information to gauge progress toward the goals laid out in the regional maritime strategy. The initial elements to be presented include an updated and expanded inventory of maritime assets and tracking cargo volumes.
The maritime asset inventory includes ports, harbors, terminals, and other critical infrastructure in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system. Each state and province collected asset information and approved the inventory. The inventory will be updated over time to show the investments made to improve maritime infrastructure of the region.
Blue Accounting is also tracking cargo volumes moving through ports in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River region. The maritime cargo data is being collected from each jurisdiction and, where available, is being compared with data from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This data will be updated annually to track progress toward the goal of doubling maritime trade in the system.
Blue Accounting’s online platform will make the data and information open and accessible to decision-makers and stakeholders across the basin. This will increase understanding of the economic, social, and ecological impact of investments in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system. Looking forward, Blue Accounting has the potential to track economic indicators, environmental outcomes and other measures of the system’s performance.
Where We Work
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Ports
Commercial shipping serves more than 100 individual ports in the eight Great Lakes states and the provinces of Ontario and Québec. These ports range in size and configuration. The simplest ports feature a single dock where ships tie-up to load or unload cargo for a single facility. Other ports are complex with multiple docks serving a variety of industries. In each case, a port serves as an interface between land-based modes of transportation (highway and rail) and waterborne transportation.
Source: Great Lakes Commission
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Maritime Traffic
Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Infrastructure
The St. Lawrence Seaway includes the Welland Canal, which cuts across the Niagara Peninsula connecting lakes Ontario and Erie, with eight locks that lift ships 326 feet bypassing Niagara Falls; and the Montreal-Lake Ontario section that enables navigation along this route, with seven navigation locks that lift ships 243 feet.
Source: St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation