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Greater Adirondack Region Economic Development Forum

Best Practices for Economic Development
St. Lawrence Seaway: Shut It Down?

Ocean freighters represent only 5% of St. Lawrence Seaway traffic, and it has been argued the Seaway could be closed to international ships. Despite the loss of jobs at places like the locks and operations center in Massena, closing the Seaway to ocean-going vessels might actually create more jobs (loading and unloading dock jobs, trucking, etc.) while reducing invasive species, according to an interview on North Country Public Radio.

Possible consequences to shutting it down: jobs, carbon emissions, additional road traffic, etc.

Blog update 2/6/10:

An expert panel at the National Academy of Sciences actually reviewed the issue of invasive species in 2008 and concluded that improvements in ballast management practices would be a more appropriate response rather than shutting down the St. Lawrence Seaway to ocean traffic. The full NAS report is here.

While commercial interests and local communities argue to save Seaway jobs in places like Massena that would suffer if the Seaway was shut to ocean traffic, certainly all groups can agree that the Seaway has not created the boon for Seaway communities that was once promised. Here, an Ogdensburg native explains the history and rapid obsolescense of the St. Lawrence Seaway. The limited international shipping in the St. Lawrence Seaway that we see today appears to be due to the container revolution that began right as the St. Lawrence Seaway was being built.

Much of the shipping on the Seaway today is US-Canada shipping of bulk cargo like iron ore and grain, which are cyclical commodity products, instead of container cargo. With much of the world in recession, St. Lawrence Seaway shipping was down 25% in 2009.

This blog post is sponsored by:

New York Land Man Blog

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