Chamber of Marine Commerce 2022 Tonnage Report Released

The latest system-wide report from the Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC) shows that ships traversing the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Waterway carried an estimated 143.0 million metric tonnes of diverse cargo to and from domestic ports and overseas markets during the 2022 shipping season.  This volume of traffic was achieved against a backdrop of challenges that included rapidly increasing interest rates, ongoing diversification in the types of cargo transiting the waterway, global unrest, industry-specific supply chain challenges, and the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The fact that total annual tonnage was only down 4% compared to 2021 is evidence that domestic marine shipping remains the resilient heartbeat of the North American economy.

“This report captures the pivotal role played by domestic marine shipping on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence waterway with respect to maintaining economic momentum throughout North America,” said Bruce Burrows, President and CEO of the Chamber of Marine Commerce. “Despite the unique challenges experienced in 2022, we still saw diverse cargo traffic throughout the waterway, new services and innovations introduced by ports and ship owners to power shipper effectiveness, and shippers utilizing the most efficient and sustainable mode of transport to power their business success. While economic conditions and geo-political influences continue to shift unpredictably, domestic marine shipping remains constant in its ability to deliver for consumers and the business community.”

The 2022 Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway Waterway Tonnage Activity report is the only data resource of its kind.  Compiled by CMC, this annually-issued report collects and analyzes Canadian-flag, U.S.-flag and foreign-flag tonnage for the bi-national navigation system, provides an overview of the key cargo commodities and their underlying economic and business drivers.

The findings of the report show:

  • Overall, cargo shipments on the binational navigation system (143 million metric tons in total) were down -4% compared to 2021. The results represent a stall in the system’s post-pandemic recovery — with tonnage totaling about 92% of 3-year pre pandemic average.
  • Despite a -2.9% drop in iron ore tonnage, it continues to be the most traded commodity on the system, accounting for roughly a third of total cargo tonnage on the GLSLW. Construction related commodities such as stone, cement, steel, and other dry bulk commodities account for another third of tonnage cargo.
  • Canadian-flag ships carried 62.1 million metric tons of cargo, a slight decrease of -1.8% compared to 2021. Total cargo tonnage was roughly 96% of the five-year average. While commodities like coal, stone, steel, and petroleum products posted increases – these were offset by decreases in shipments of cement, iron ore, grain, other dry bulk, and liquid bulk products. Upon the relaxation of travel restrictions, petroleum product shipments rose by 9.2% (after a -5.7% decline in 2021 due to restrictions in place through 2021.
  • S.-flag ships experienced decreases in key cargo sectors, carrying a total of 69.3 million metric tons (76.4 million net tons) – down -6.6% over 2021. Total tonnage fell to 93% of its five-year average, after recovering to about 98% in 2021. Iron ore and coal shipments were both down at -10.2% respectively.
  • Foreign-flag ships transported 11.7 million metric tons of cargo through the St. Lawrence Seaway to and from overseas destinations — slightly surpassing 2021’s performance (+0.3%). Ocean-going vessels played an important role in exporting Canadian and U.S. grain, potash for fertilizer, and other dry bulk products to overseas markets.

Read the full report here.

2022 Tonnage Report

Note: Canadian-flag vessel tonnage data was sourced from the major Canadian domestic ship owners, while the foreign-flag vessel tonnage and U.S.-flag vessel tonnage data was provided by The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation and the Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), respectively.

Note:  The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway System (GLSLS) connects Canada to the United States and connects inland North America to other parts of the world through the Atlantic Ocean. Stretching west from Lake Superior to the end of the St. Lawrence Seaway, this bi-national trade corridor facilitates billions of dollars of economic activity annually and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Note: This also includes upbound and downbound cargo carried by Canadian-flag vessels in the lower St. Lawrence River and beyond Anticosti Island and into the Atlantic and Arctic Regions. It also includes cargo carried by foreign-flag vessels that at some point passes through the Canadian portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway lock system.

Flickr – Download photos of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence shipping industry

About the Chamber of Marine Commerce

The Chamber of Marine Commerce is a bi-national association that represents more than 100 marine industry stakeholders including major Canadian and American shippers, ports, terminals and marine service providers, as well as domestic and international ship owners. The Chamber advocates for safe, sustainable, harmonized and competitive policy and regulation that recognizes the marine transportation system’s significant advantages in the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence, Coastal and Arctic regions.

Media Contact:

Jason Card

Chamber of Marine Commerce

(613) 447 5401