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Shortsea Shipping: 136.9 million tonnes handled in the Flemish ports – a new record

Date: 13/03/2014

Shortsea Shipping has picked up strongly after the crisis year 2012. In 2013 the four Flemish ports handled 2.7 million tonnes more than in the previous year. Moreover, with 1.6 million more cargo handled, the tonnage record of 2011 has been swept off the tables.

This appears from the following data released by the Shortsea Promotion Centre Flanders:

· With 136,890,712 tonnes, shortsea traffic in the Flemish ports has increased in 2013 by just over 2% compared to 2012 (134,115,483 tonnes).

· The tonnage exceeded that of the previous record year 2011 by 1.21%.

· The share of shortsea transport in the overall traffic in the Flemish ports amounts to 52.36%.

· SSS traffic rose in Antwerp, Ghent and Zeebrugge.

· Ostend lost traffic following the abolition of the link to the UK.

 In absolute numbers the end of December 2013 was reached with a total of 136,890,712 tonnes of handled shortsea cargo for the 4 ports taken together. 

- With 89,013,336 tonnes of shortsea cargo Antwerp claimed the largest share. Compared to 2012 there was a strong increase of 3,004,211 tonnes (+3,5%).

- With 17,261,437 tonnes of shortsea cargo the port of Ghent witnessed a slight growth of 189,569 tonnes (+1,1%) compared to 2012.

- Zeebrugge handled 957,533 tonnes or almost 3.5% more cargo, totalling 28,812,609 tonnes.

- The port of Ostend’s shortsea traffic dropped back to 1,803,330 tonnes, due to the discontinuation of the TransEuropeFerries link in April 2012 (-56.7%).

The percentage share of shortsea in the overall cargo handled (shortsea and deep sea) obviously differs from port to port. Ostend scores almost 100%. Antwerp, situated further inland, has 46.6% of shortsea freight. Ghent and Zeebrugge obtain 66.5 % and 67.2% respectively. The major importance of shortsea shipping for the four Flemish ports is illustrated by its share of no less than 52,36% in the total maritime tonnage handled. Both in tonnage and in percentage it is therefore more important than the deep sea traffic. In the 2011 record year it amounted to exactly 51%. All this means that shortsea is increasingly embedding itself in our ports.

The promotion office has been gathering shortsea figures from 1999 onward. Since that year the evolution has shown a solid growth of 54.7% from 88.5m to 136.9 million tonnes. This sturdy growth clearly shows that shortsea has become a durable part of Europe’s global co-modal or synchro-modal transport chain.

Shortsea on the canals and inland waterways (sea-river) presents two facets. On the Brussels-Scheldt maritime canal 876,134 tonnes of shortsea freight were transported (a drop of 330,658 tonnes or 27% compared to 2012). As far as the Albert Canal is concerned, 300,152 tonnes were registered (an increase of 78,299 tonnes or +35% compared to 2012). It is striking that on the Brussels-Scheldt maritime canal 84% concerns import freight. On the Albert Canal almost 2/3 is export cargo.

The sea-river vessels have a distinct advantage: they carry the cargo far inland, often to a loading or unloading facility in the vicinity of the customer.

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