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Maine Port Authority chief pushes for ‘short-sea’ shipping to N.Y., N.J.

PortandTerminal.com, November 6, 2019

PORTLAND, MAINE – Jonathan Nass, CEO of the Maine Port Authority, is pushing for the launch of a short-sea cargo shipping route between Maine and New York and New Jersey — and wants to promote it on the national stage.

In 2017 in Europe 32 million TEUs were moved by Short-Sea Shipping. Rotterdam remained the largest EU port for short sea shipping, handling a total of 202 million tonnes of short sea shipped goods in 2017

“We are continuing to meet with New York and New Jersey on a regular basis, and I believe there is a future for it,” he told Mainebiz in an interview at Portland’s International Marine Terminal last week.

He said that while some freight is transported on the water, it tends to be mainly bulk energy products and that waterborne container shipping is not really done in the United States, where most heavy cargo is moved by truck.

To ease congestion and wear and tear on roads other infrastructure, he suggests short-sea shipping as an alternative and believes that quick access to the interstate highway is a strong selling point.

If all parties are willing, he said a route could start “in a matter of months.””We have the equipment, we have the pier, so it’s a matter of the cargo being there,” Nass said

The plan would be to start a typical tug-and-tow service with existing vessels, and later to have so-called articulated tug barges built once the business takes off.

“It’s a matter of the cargo being there,” he said.

‘More to transportation than highways’

Nass also touted the benefits of domestic short-sea shipping to federal lawmakers in June when he testified before the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

“By not making alternative freight transportation systems a national
priority, especially short sea shipping alternatives, I believe that we are
misusing our surface transportation system.”

“There is more to the transportation equation than highways,” he told lawmakers, suggesting the establishment of a well-utilized marine highway “as functional as roads and bridges but without the cost of pavement and steel,” or potholes and traffic jams.

“That’s exactly what the Maritime Administration’s Marine Highway program is designed to do,” he said, “and it should be a top priority when fixing the entire system.”

“The Maritime Administration is awesome,” he added, “but the whole game needs to get kicked up a couple of notches if this is what we want to do as a nation.”

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