The St. John’s Port Authority’s annual general meeting highlighted what a busy year 2013 was for harbour activity. According to a speech made by the federal agency’s vice-president of development, there’s plenty of optimism about the future.
“All indications are that port activity will continue to increase in the coming years, and whether that means further growth in the cargo or energy sectors or increased demand in the seafood industry, the port is internally keeping a steady course towards continued success,” Bob McCarthy said Monday afternoon at the Murray Premises.
Port activity increased substantially, with 1,601 vessels arriving in 2013 versus 1,316 the previous year — a 21.7 per cent increase. Most of that increase can be attributed to the offshore sector, where 1,027 vessel arrivals were reported last year. In 2012, there were 823 arrivals.
All figures mentioned for 2013 were the port’s highest within a five-year period.
In terms of cargo, the port experienced a 20 per cent increase over 2012 — 1.7-million metric tonnes of cargo was handled in 2013. The offshore energy sector was again the driving force behind that increase, as the 718,232 metric tonnes of liquid bulk material handled at the port resulted in a 47.5 per cent increase over the previous year’s total.
Cruise ship activity held steady in 2013. The 13,111 passengers who visited St. John’s via cruise ships was down slighty from the 2012 figure of 13,222.
“Last year, we did lose a couple of large ships due to some wind,” said McCarthy. “It’s regrettable, but they come late in the season when they transit and then the weather can play a factor.”
However, McCarthy said that with 23 vessels expected this year, it’s estimated anywhere from 27,000 to 28,000 passengers will visit the city in 2014.
New wharf for harvesters
More fish was landed in 2013 than in any other year within the last five, with 7,642 metric tonnes of product handled in St. John’s. The Pier 20 wharf that accommodates most fishing vessels on the south side of the harbour is now in the process of being rebuilt. McCarthy said after the meeting that work will hopefully conclude in November.
A review of the proposed reconstruction project took place after bids from last year exceeded the project estimate by $1 million.
“What will happen is that we will have a new state-of-the-art facility for the fishing industry in place,” said McCarthy. The reconstruction project is expected to cost a little more than $4 million.
The wharf was acquired by the former national harbours board in the 1960s and has never been replaced in the years since then.
“In this case, we had to remove the structure. It just wasn’t salvageable.”