St. Lawrence Seaway shipping down in 2019

(Newswatch Group/File)

CORNWALL, Ont. – The number of ships and the cargo they were carrying on the St. Lawrence Seaway was down in 2019.

Numbers from the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation show ships carried 38.3 million metric tons of cargo last year – down about seven per cent compared to 2018.

The big losses were in general cargo (33 per cent) and grain (15 per cent).

The number of ships on the waterway was also down nearly six per cent. There were 4,131 transits in 2019 – 258 fewer trips compared to the year before.

The corporation says the shipping season was “very challenging” with high water levels but ended on schedule with few interruptions. It says the results “reflect the more challenging conditions…compared to 2018, in which seaway tonnage was at a 10 year high.”

Lower grain shipments are blamed on trade tensions, water flows and weather conditions affecting the grain harvest.

The St. Lawrence Seaway closed on Dec. 31, 2019, marking the end of its 60th anniversary.