LCA president: Enhanced icebreaking services 'critical' for Great Lakes

The following is text of a news release from the Lake Carriers' Association (LCA):

(CLEVELAND) — Jim Weakley, president of Lake Carriers’ Association (LCA), the trade association representing U.S.-flag vessel operators on the Great Lakes, on Monday testified before the House of Commons’ Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities at its hearing in Niagara Falls, Ontario. This appearance was in relation to the committee’s study regarding a Canadian Transportation and Logistics Strategy (Trade Corridors). 

Weakley told the committee that “the words ‘harmonization’ and ‘interoperability’ are frequently used when discussing Canada-U.S. trade.  The only way to fully enable the incredible economic potential of trade and commerce between our two nations, particularly here in the Great Lakes region, is to ensure that decisions are made with these two key tenets in mind.”

To illustrate how interwoven the Great Lakes trade corridor is, Weakley noted that when a U.S.-flag laker transits the Detroit/St. Clair River system, it crosses the border between the two nations 17 times.

Cargo movement on the Lakes between the U.S. and Canada is significant. It can annually total more than 40 million tons. Total Great Lakes commerce can top 160 million tons.

Weakley told the committee that in terms of capital investment, “a new transportation and logistics strategy should take into account critical capability needs such as enhanced and more reliable icebreaking services, and deploy strategic capital accordingly.” During the winter of 2017-2018, lack of adequate icebreaking recourses in both the U.S. and Canadian Coast Guards resulted in LCA members having nearly 6.5 million tons of cargo delayed or canceled.

“In terms of regulation, taking a bi-national approach to air emissions, ballast water, and protection of species at risk, through the lens of cross-border integration and harmonization, adds to our ability to generate economic development and good-paying jobs on both sides of the border.”

Weakley concluded his testimony by pledging to work with Canadian parliamentarians and government officials to keep Great Lakes shipping a benefit to both nations.

By Professional Mariner Staff