WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Optimism is being felt by leaders of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway System.

The over 300-mile freshwater system that includes both Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River has seen a steady increase in traffic since the start of its 2022 navigation season.

However, according to Seaway Development Corporation Deputy Administrator Craig Middlebrook, the Seaway was down 8% overall in June. He said this is due to a drop in grain exports in the Canadian Great Plains.

“That’s been an issue. That’s the major commodity,” Middlebrook explained. “That influences the movement of vessels coming into the system.”

Increases so far have been logged in wind energy, petroleum and container shipping.

Compared to coastal ports and water systems, the Seaway has not experienced huge deficits due to supply chain issues. This is because the Seaway primarily ships bulk commodities including grain, iron ore and oil.

“Given the composition of our cargo we have no happily experienced the disruptions that have impacted locations elsewhere,” Middlebrook said.

He added that increasing container shipping through the Seaway is also helping to combat supply chain issues, highlighting the Seaway’s overall reliability and efficiency.

“People, for the first time in many years are looking at moving containerized cargo through the Seaway as opposed to coastal ports,” he shared. “They know that those containers are going to get there on schedule.”

Although rates are always subject to change, Middlebrook concluded by saying he has high hopes as the Seaway is now halfway through its shipping season.

“I remain optimistic that we will remain close to our numbers last year, hopefully, a little above. I think we’ll be there at the end of the season,” Middlebrook stated.

Monthly shipping updates will be posted on the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation website.