Since June 10, a one-stop window has been handling requests from everyone interested in Quebec’s marine transportation industry: the Maritime Information Bureau, or simply MIB.
How many container ships transit the St. Lawrence River channel every year? How does marine transportation contribute to the Quebec economy? What exactly is the role of marine pilots? The new Maritime Information Bureau (MIB) has an answer for all these questions, and countless more.
Created by the St. Lawrence Economic Development Council (SODES), the MIB is the result of a huge effort to gather information on the Quebec marine transportation industry and make it available in a single, easily accessible place. Since its launch on June 10, the MIB window has been open to everyone, journalist, elected officials and the public alike.
“Three weeks after the official launch, we had already received a dozen requests for information!” said Ariane Charette, Communications Coordinator at the MIB.
There was a great need in the industry for such an information tool. SODES President Nicole Trépanier explained, “In our sector, there are all kinds of organizations, so in message terms, things were a bit fragmented. Then, people think marine transportation is good for the environment yet they don’t know much about how freight transport works.” A perception confirmed by a Léger poll conducted last year among the Quebec population at the request of SODES.
For obvious security reasons, port terminals are closed and inaccessible to the public, hence the unknown nature of their operations. Back in the days of cabotage, or coastal shipping, ports were gathering points, but times have changed. “We failed to talk to the public. By tradition, we were a closed industry,” said Nicole Trépanier.
Last fall, SODES decided to change all that with an awareness campaign featuring the slogan, ”Brought to you by ship – My river, my provider!” Creating MIB is part of this strategy to make the marine industry better known.
MIB came about with the assistance of TACT Intelligence-conseil consulting agency. François Ducharme, founding partner and general manager of the Quebec City office, was directly involved in this project. “We must develop a reflex for dialogue with the community, with the stakeholders. When an event occurs, journalists want to tell people about it! If there’s no one in the marine industry to brief them, we run the risk that misinformation and half-truths might surface. That’s how the media started talking about super tankers on the St. Lawrence, when we know for a fact that there aren’t any, because they’re too large to use the river channel!”
This called for a reference body that provides someone to answer questions from the media and refer them as needed to serious, credible experts.
“We also have to talk to residents, to riverside municipalities along the St. Lawrence, who have concerns, who ask questions about the passage of merchant ships. Someone has to answer them, reassure them, explain the facts and show them that marine transportation players shoulder their responsibilities,” said François Ducharme.
That led to the creation of the MIB, to set the record straight. It provides neutral information on the marine transportation industry. It neither takes a position nor acts as a spokesperson for an industry partner. “If someone is looking for information that specifically regards the Port of Montreal, for example, I refer them to a Port representative,” said Ariane Charette.
On the MIB site, information is presented by topic based on the most frequent media requests: Economy, Environments, Marine Safety, Prevention and Intervention, and Technologies. The information is reader-friendly, in plain language and well summarized without being over-simplified. Furthermore, the MIB has a bank of marine industry experts to whom the bureau is pleased to refer information seekers.
And to ensure its live presence, the MIB provides daily social media posts.
IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS ON THE MARINE INDUSTRY IN QUEBEC, CONTACT MIB AT: