Carriers… navigation superstars

The majority of ships travelling the St. Lawrence transport cargo. The different cargo categories are often associated with a given type of ship and a specific handling technique.

The main types of cargoes handled in the five Canadian Port Authorities (Montreal, Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Saguenay and Sept-Îles) are :

  • Dry bulk – 52,5% – mainly ore, grain, salt, potash, etc. Canada is the third biggest grain exporter worldwide.
  • Liquid cargo – 22,5% – mainly petroleum products, chemicals, animal and vegetables fats and oils.
  • Containerized  and general cargo – 23,5% – almost entirely handled at the Port of Montreal, which makes it the leading container port on the Canadian East Coast (before Halifax). Cargoes include consumer goods such as food (wine, fruits, vegetables, cheese), clothing, electronic and computer equipment, cars, etc.
  • General breakbulk cargo – 1,5% – steel, aluminum, machinery, various types of equipment, etc.

(Source: Maritime Information System, Newsletter 4, april 2017)

The transport of goods is a complex logistic chain involving a great number of actors:

  • Marine carrier or ship owner
    He is responsible for the transportation of goods from point A to B. He is in charge of financing and operating the ship (crew, supply, fuel, maintain, etc.). Ship owners operating vessels registered in Canada compose the Canadian domestic fleet.
  • Shipper or charterer
    He orders the shipping service to transport goods. He is responsible for packing and labeling the goods and pays for their transportation.
  • Ports and port authorities
    Ports operate and maintain the port facilities, control and coordinate operations and provide certain services to users. Canadian Port Authorities (19 in total, of which 5 are located in Quebec) have been designated according to the Canada Marine Act, to operate certain ports on behalf of the government of Canada. These ports are essential to national and international trade.
  • Port services
    They include :
    1) Ship supply services: stevedoring, loading, unloading, storage, ship repair and maintenance, towing, environmental services;
    2) Terminals: docks equipped and adapted to receive and store specific types of cargoes, such as containers, grains and petroleum products.
  • Marine services
    These services, essential to ensure smooth operations, are provided by private companies that have developed an expertise in the marine sector:
    – Maritime agencies
    – Maritime experts
    – Pilot corporations and authorities
    – Classification societies
    – Naval architects
    – Marine insurers
    – Maritime lawyers
    – Etc.

Many essential navigation services are supplied by federal government departments and agencies:

  • The Canadian Coast Guard is responsible for ice-breaking, buoyage and marine communications.
  • Public Works and Government Services Canada oversees maintenance dredging of the St. Lawrence navigation channel.
  • Transport Canada is in charge of enforcing many statutes and regulations governing marine activities in Canada, including those related to:
    • vessel, crew and passenger safety and security
    • environmental and marine environment protection.

(Sources: Martitime Information System Newsletters, Bottin du transport maritime courte distance, Étude sectorielle sur les effectifs maritimes au Québec)