Great Lakes shipping in 2012 good, not greatGreat Lakes cargo numbers weren’t great in the season that just ended: not bad, but not great.
By: By Mike Simonson, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
Great Lakes cargo numbers weren’t great in the season that just ended: not bad, but not great.
Salty traffic carrying cargo from overseas saw a 4 percent increase, but U.S-flagged shipping on the Great Lakes was down 4.5 percent. The largest of the Great Lakes ports, Duluth-Superior, was down about 1 percent. Port Director Adolph Ojard says iron ore continued to be their mainstay.
“We’re hoping that that stays strong in 2013,” he said. “Coal, relatively flat, as the previous year as were most of the other commodities. So all in all a good year, but not what we’re used to back prior to the 2007 downturn.”
Sixty-eight foreign vessels called on Duluth-Superior last year, about the same as 2011. Ojard says economic stability in Europe and Asia is a big part of an overall recovery.
“So you really want to see an improvement in the world economy. We’re starting to see that,” he said. “I think it will be led by the U.S. so that’s very positive.”
Cargo aside, there’s always the boat watchers. Ken Newhams edits “Duluth Shipping News.” He says tourists love the stream-lined salties and the thousand-foot lakers.
“People who visit in the summer go bonkers when they see a big ship,” he said. “Many tourists, ‘Whoa, that’s the biggest ship on the Great Lakes? I can’t believe it.’ I mean, when I take a picture of a boat, I like to get people in it and almost invariably they’re holding their phone up.”
Ice will hold ships in their winter berths for another two months. Newhams says he can use the break.