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St. Lawrence Seaway cargo down 6 percent, Great Lakes traffic up

Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio

Weather rocked a few Great Lakes ships last month, making for a so-so November for cargo deliveries.

The St. Lawrence Seaway closes to ocean traffic at the end of the month, while Great Lakes ships will keep going until the middle of next month. St. Lawrence Seaway Corporation Administrator Betty Sutton says even though cargo figures are down 6 percent through November, she says the seaway traffic is making a year-end push.

“We are still seeing a lot of activity in the seaway and on the lakes,” says Sutton. “As long as the weather holds out and they can keep moving in a safe, effective and efficient way, we will continue to see that movement right up until the final moment.”

Sutton says one reason for the off-year is less steel and iron ore demand from China.

U.S.-flagged ships are holding their own. Lake Carriers Association Vice President Glen Nekvasil says numbers are up a bit, reflecting national trends.

“The steel industry isn’t hitting on all cylinders, but the steel mills are running at a pretty good clip here,” says Nekvasil. “The construction industry in the Great Lakes basin has not returned to pre-recession levels but it is doing better.”

The largest Great Lakes port, Duluth-Superior, is keeping pace with last year, while the Port of Milwaukee is having a strong year, with tonnage up close to 40 percent.

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