Using the goals and metrics set by the maritime work group, Blue Accounting is tracking progress in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system. We collected and synthesized data from a variety of U.S. and Canadian agencies and organizations representing the maritime industry and have presented data visualizations for the six current maritime transportation metrics.

Maritime Cargo Volume and Value

The data below tracks the total tonnage and value of commodities shipped on the Maritime Transportation System between 2012 to 2018. The Maritime Transportation System includes the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence Seaway, and St. Lawrence River downstream to Les Escoumins, QC. The figures below illustrate how this cargo tonnage and value was broken down by different commodities. Changes in commodity tonnage handled and value of cargo reflect changing global and regional economic forces. 

Cruise Traffic

In 2018, an estimated 193 different cruise itineraries and carried 177,000 cruise passenger across the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Container Traffic

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. Currently, Montreal and Cleveland have regularly-scheduled container shipping services, and Montreal is the MTS’ main container terminal, handling 99% of the system’s containerized cargo.

Lock Availability and Reliability

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). The St. Lawrence represents the system’s connection to the world and the Soo Locks control the key connection point between Lake Superior and the rest of the MTS, enabling mined commodities including taconite to reach the steel mills and manufacturing plants in the southern portions of the MTS. The three lock-controlled sections of the MTS are shown on the map below.

Green Marine Performance

Green Marine is a voluntary environmental certification program for the maritime industry which is endorsed by a wide range of environmental groups and governments, including the Nature Conservancy of Canada and Environmental Defense Fund. Program participants such as shipowners, ports, terminals, Seaway corporations, and shipyards benchmark their annual environmental performance through exhaustive self-evaluation guides, which cover 12 performance indicators.