Public and private sector organizations make investments and implement policies and programs in the Great Lake-St.Lawrence maritime transportation system to improve and sustain their use. Federal money is spent to dredge harbors and channels, break up ice, and maintain critical locks and other infrastructure, ensuring the maritime system functions smoothly. States and provinces develop waterfronts for greater access to maritime shipping and boost economic development. Private organizations use resources to improve their cargo capacity and efficiency through ship and onshore investments.

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Actions to reform pilotage

 As pilotage represents a significant operational consideration for MTS users, its regulation, management and service delivery are of keen interest to the commercial maritime industry in both Canada and the United States. For its part, the Regional Maritime Strategy acknowledges the need for a new look at the pilotage delivery service structure and calls for a more open, collaborative process involving relevant governmental agencies and industry from both side of the border.

Shipowner investments in vessel fuel and technology

In order to improve fuel economy, reduce operating costs, and comply with emissions regulations, vessel operators in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Maritime Transportation System (MTS) have been investing in new vessels, new engines, and emission treatment systems. Some examples of recent emissions-related investments from MTS vessel operators include:

Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation Asset Renewal Program

When the St. Lawrence Seaway opened in 1959 it was hailed as one of the world’s most ambitious achievements in maritime infrastructure. Fifty years hence, that infrastructure has shown signs of age, prompting the U.S. Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation (SLSDC) to unveil in 2009 a forward-looking Asset Renewal Program (ARP). Similar to the Army Corps’ ARP for the Soo Locks, the SLSDC’s objectives were to identify and address pressing long-term needs for the U.S.

Ballast Water Treatment Systems

Systems capable of removing, rendering unviable, or killing live organisms in ballast water can help ensure that non-native species are not introduced to, or more quickly spread, throughout the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Maritime Transportation System (MTS). Canadian and U.S. agencies and shipowners are actively testing and evaluating ballast water treatment systems to meet the unique regulatory, environmental, and operational requirements that exist within the MTS.

U.S. Vessel Incidental Discharge Act

The Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA) became law in December 2018 attempts to resolve these issues by directing the U.S. EPA to set national standards for ballast water and directs USCG to implement and enforce the standards. The new standards are to be promulgated within two years, with the associated USCG regulations to follow within another two years. The new regulations must be at least as stringent as current standards in the VGP.

Great Lakes Seaway Partnership

The Great Lakes Seaway Partnership was created to enhance public understanding of the benefits of commercial shipping in the Great Lakes Seaway region. In particular, the Partnership seeks to highlight the positive attributes of marine transportation through an education-focused communications program, research, and engagement with maritime stakeholders.

Great Waters Research Collaborative

The Great Waters Research Collaborative (GWRC) is a project of the University of Wisconsin-Lake Superior Research Institute devoted to objective, third-party research to support sustainable industrial, commercial and public use of the nation’s Great Waters, particularly via green shipping. Its primary focus is on preventing new ballast water introductions of invasive species in the Great Lakes. The GWRC executes type approval tests of ballast water management systems for U.S. Coast Guard type approval.

Canadian Ballast Water Regulations

Transport Canada (TC) is proposing updated ballast water regulations that will implement Canada’s obligations under the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships’ Ballast Water and Sediments. The proposed regulations would apply to Canadian vessels everywhere and vessels in waters under Canadian jurisdiction. Subject vessels would be required to develop and implement a ballast water management plan and comply with a performance standard that would limit the number of organisms discharged by 2024.