Seaway is too vital to even think about
By Albert S. Jacquez and Richard Corfe
For the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Posted November 7, 2005
Missing from the Nov. 2 Journal Sentinel editorial "Control
the Seaway" is any sense of just how vital the St.
Lawrence Seaway is to the Great Lakes region and to Milwaukee,
Indeed, the notion that the region would somehow be better
off without the jobs, goods and money the Seaway pours
into the region is, simply put, misguided, misinformed
The Great Lakes Seaway contributes $5 billion annually
to the regional economy, provides tens of thousands of
diverse jobs and serves as a vital connection to national
and international transportation networks. Closer to home,
the Seaway is directly responsible for at least 219 jobs
and $28 million in annual business revenue for Milwaukee.
These benefits are only likely to grow as the Seaway
takes advantage of changing trends in maritime shipping.
Last month, a Seaway delegation visited Europe on a trade
mission to recruit even more traffic to the region. There
we saw in action feeder ships carrying 100 to 1,000 containers,
ships that are Seaway-sized, moving cargo and providing
part of the solution to the growing transportation challenge.
Indeed, this growing trend toward smaller feeder ships
has the potential to boost Seaway traffic, ease congestion,
reduce our dependency on foreign oil and protect the environment.
Scientists and engineers have proved that waterborne transport
moves substantially more freight per gallon of fuel than
truck or train. Meanwhile, one Seaway vessel alone moves
as much cargo as 870 trucks or 225 rail cars.
Imagine how much quicker morning commutes would be, how
much cleaner the region's air would be and how much safer
our roads would be if we could take thousands of trucks
and hundreds of trains off already congested routes throughout
Residents of the Great Lakes region should not be led
into simplistic positions purporting to solve complex
ballast water challenges. Closing the Seaway or Welland
Canal to ocean shipping as some suggest would not kill
a single zebra mussel, round goby or any other known invasive
species, nor would it prevent future introductions of
invasive species. But it would kill many jobs and drown
the local economy in lost hope and lost opportunity.
There are more practical solutions than shutting the
Seaway. The region's marine industry has built a coalition
that is aggressively addressing the challenges facing
the Great Lakes Seaway System.
Fednav, the system's largest international shipper, has
invested more than $1 million in an innovative ballast
water treatment called OceanSaver that is being tested.
It may prove efficient in killing the hitchhiking invasives
in ballast tanks by removing oxygen required for life.
The Seaway has acted as a vital economic gateway to the
Great Lakes region for almost 50 years, moving more than
2 billion tons of goods since it first opened. Government,
industry and environmentalists are working together to
solve the ballast water challenge and are making real
We may not agree on every point, but everyone, except
for the Journal Sentinel, agrees that closing the door
on the Seaway isn't an answer.
Albert S. Jacquez is administrator of the U.S. St. Lawrence
Seaway Development Corp., and Richard Corfe is president
and CEO of the Canadian St. Lawrence Seaway Management