St. Lawrence Seaway opens March 22

CORNWALL — The 2023 navigation season on the St. Lawrence-Seaway opens March 22 at 8am.

Ship Seaway Management Corporation (CNW Group/The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation).

Both sections of the Seaway, the Montreal-Lake Ontario section, and the Welland Canal, are set to open at the same time this season.

Due to water and ice conditions this spring, ships in the Montreal-Lake Ontario section will have a maximum draft of eight metres (26 feet, 3 inches).

Once the South Shore Canal is free of ice, and water levels are high enough to support it, the allowable draft will increase by eight centimetres or three inches.

This year, there are four voluntary speed reduction zones through sensitive areas. Zone 1 runs from Cameron’s Point to St. Regis Island on Lake St. Francis; Zone 2 is from Broder Island to Mariatown in Lake St. Lawrence; Zone 3 is through the Brockville Narrows section of the St. Lawrence River from Skelton Island to Fernbank; and Zone 4 is the American Narrows — from Alexandria Bay to Fineview.

Participants in this speed reduction program will reduce their vessel speed to lessen the wake to minimize shoreline property impact. An eight knot speed restriction is in place past Galop Island for upbound ships that draft more than 7.8 metres is also in place.

Yearly tonnage shipped through the Seaway decreased by five per cent but overall vessel traffic increased by 2.4 per cent between 2021 and 2022.

In January, St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation President and CEO Terence Bowles said that the expectation is for an increase in tonnage via the waterway due to higher wheat yields in Western Canada.

This is the 65th season for the international shipping waterway.