Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ice Delays Ships on Great Lakes, Seaway; More Icebreakers Needed: Ship Owners

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ice Delays Ships on Great Lakes, Seaway; More Icebreakers Needed: Ship Owners

Article excerpt

Great Lake ice delays trade shipping

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The Canadian Shipowners Association wants more icebreakers to open up the frozen Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway for shipments of Canadian grain and other commodities.

Association president Robert Lewis-Manning says the worst winter in 20 years has clogged the important trade route with a broad cover of thick ice that is suppressing freighter traffic.

"Concerns over ice conditions and the ability of the Canadian Coast Guard to provide sufficient icebreaking has delayed the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway past opening dates achieved in recent years," Lewis-Manning said Tuesday.

"Despite Canadian government efforts to encourage the movement of Canadian grain, it will remain stored in ports such as Thunder Bay until icebreakers open ports and support ship movements."

The association represents six companies that control a fleet of 83 freight vessels.

It warns the ice also threatens to delay shipments of iron ore, construction materials, salt and petroleum products.

Lewis-Manning said a few freighters are moving on some of the middle Great Lakes, but very slowly, and they must be escorted by either Canadian or U.S. icebreakers.

Officials with the coast guard could not immediately be reached for comment. Information posted on its website says it's been a challenging year.

"The Canadian Coast Guard's fleet of icebreakers is working hard to meet the increased demand for assistance this year as the result of severe weather conditions in many parts of the country in recent months," reads the website.

"The last time the Canadian Coast Guard encountered similar ice conditions was in 1994."

The website says the coast guard planned to start icebreaking operations in Thunder Bay on Monday with the help of a U.S. Coast Guard ship.

Lewis-Manning said normal shipments on the Great Lakes may not be achieved until the first or second week of April, depending on the weather. …

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