Shipping

The Great Lakes are often referred to as the "fourth seacoast."  U.S. and Canadian lake fleets annually haul upwards of 125 million tons of cargo, including iron ore, limestone and coal.

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Elizabeth Miller

This week marks the start of a break in the Great Lakes shipping season.  A time when lakes freeze over, the locks at Sault St. Marie shut down, and crews on big freighters go home to their families.  

But not everyone stops working.

 

Elizabeth Miller/ideastream

Most shipping on the Great Lakes comes to a close with the Soo Locks shutdown on Sunday.  It’s the end of a rough year for cargo companies.

According to the Lake Carriers Association, Great Lakes freighters transported over 83 million tons of cargo in 2016. That was a 4.5 percent decline compared to 2015.

The association’s Glen Nekvasil says shipments rose in only one category.  “Iron ore was the one cargo that increased. It was up about 8 percent, and our grain cargoes were down almost 30 percent.”

Veronica Volk / Great Lakes Today

For the first time in over 50 years, the U.S. and Canada are changing the way they regulate water levels on Lake Ontario. It’s an attempt to meet the changing needs of people who use the lake – from the shipping industry to environmentalists.

But homeowners fear the change may mean more flooding.


In Oswego, a massive, rust-covered container ship glided across Lake Ontario Wednesday morning. It eased toward the Port of Oswego and abruptly came to rest after bumping against the dock.

The 24-foot-tall ship was carrying equipment from Germany that will head to a brewery in Rochester. The port is expecting another shipment of similar equipment next year for a brewery in Fulton. Port director Zelko Kirincich wants to see more container ships visit the port because he says it's more cost efficient for businesses that are importing and exporting by ship. 

Joe deSousa, Flickr

Officials in the United States and Canada have approved a plan to allow the level of Lake Ontario to fluctuate more -- a change that has been opposed by some residents. 


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