Building on the Regional Maritime Strategy, the Blue Accounting maritime transportation work group established the following high-level goals for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system:

  • Goal 1: Increase maritime traffic and trade

  • Goal 2: Increase the system’s efficiency and performance

  • Goal 3: Continue improving the environmental performance of the system

Tracking Progress

The Blue Accounting maritime transportation work group has identified metrics to track progress toward each goal. 

While there are many metrics by which maritime trade and traffic can be measure, the Blue Accounting maritime transportation work group will focus on the following:

  • Cargo Tonnage Carried on the System
  • Value of Cargo Carried on the System
  • Tons of Cargo Carried on Containers
  • Growth in Cruise Tourism

The maritime transportation work group will focus on measuring the performance of navigation locks, which are key chokepoints in the system.

  • Reliability of navigation locks. 
  • Participation in the Green Marine Environmental Performance Certification Program
Our Metrics

Cargo Volume And Value

Cargo Volume And Value

Tonnage Carried

image of pie chart -tonnage carried on maritime transportation systems

In 2017, an estimated 194 million metric tonnes worth about $73 billion USD ($95 billion CAD) were carried on the Maritime Transportation System. Bulk cargoes such as iron ore, stone, grain, and coal make up the majority of the tonnage of goods moving on the MTS. However, containers carried on the MTS make up the largest share of value.

Cargo Value

Cargo Value

pie chart of cargo volume carried on maritime transportation systems

In 2017, approximately $73 billion USD ($95 billion CAD) were carried on the Maritime Transportation System. 

Cruise Traffic

Cruise Traffic

graph -estimated passenger capacity

The Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River region’s globally unique freshwater system features vibrant coastal communities, culture, and history that make the Maritime Transportation System increasingly attractive for cruise tourism. Tourism can generate substantial economic benefits through cruise package spending, port calls, associated excursions and the purchase of support services.

Container Traffic

Container Traffic

graph showing container traffic from 2010-2018

Over the past ten years, the tonnage of containerized cargo handled at Maritime Transportation System (MTS) ports has grown by 29%. In 2018, about 14.6 million metric tonnes of containerized cargo was handled at MTS ports.

Lock Efficiency

Lock Availability

graph showing vessel transits through locks

The reliable and efficient operation of the locks on the St. Lawrence Seaway and at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan (Soo Locks) is critically important to the movement of cargo on the Maritime Transportation System (MTS).

Green Marine

Green Marine Performance

graph- participation in the green maritime program

Green Marine is a voluntary environmental certification program for the maritime industry which is endorsed by a wide range of environmental groups and governments. Blue Accounting is tracking participation and performance by Great Lakes and St. Lawrence companies participating in Green Marine.


Collaborative efforts to address environmental challenges

The U.S. and Canadian federal governments, vessel operators, academic partners and others are collaborating in a number of areas to address environmental challenges associated with maritime transportation in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. This includes investments, research, management practices, and new regulations in the following areas (see investments for additional background):

State and Provincial Maritime Plans

In addition to funding programs, some states and provinces have chosen to engage in strategic planning to identify maritime needs and issues, and guide investment in their systems. Some Maritime Transportation System (MTS) states and provinces created their own maritime-specific funding programs, which are often intended to help ports pay for infrastructure upgrades, or improve connections to highways and railroads. Currently, three states or provinces have maritime-specific plans or strategies, and all states and provinces also have more generalized freight transportation plans.