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(St. Catharines, Ont., March 23, 2005) — Captain Feroze Irani of the MV Pineglen was presented with the ceremonial top hat at Lock 3 this morning, when the Welland Canal, the westernmost part of the St. Lawrence Seaway, officially opened for its 176th consecutive year of service. The Montreal-Lake Ontario section will open Good Friday, March 25. The Seaway has opened on or before March 31 in 20 of the last 26 years and is now in its 47th navigation season.

Captain Feroze Irani Dick Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation, declared the Welland Canal officially open. “Last year, traffic though the Seaway increased by 6.5%, during what was our longest navigation season ever – 281 days,” said Corfe, who expects heavier traffic this year as well. The Seaway will maintain the new operating draft of 26'6" for a second year, and has plans to attract new business. A major incentive announced at the ceremony is a reduction in lockage fees for new cargo on the Welland Canal, a collaborative effort with Transport Canada to encourage short-sea shipping.

Corfe also reported on other SLSMC initiatives now in progress, among them a branding project based on the Highway H2O logo that experienced a successful run last year as the focus of a multi-media advertising campaign. “The strength of our waterway is in the whole, not the sum of its parts,” said Corfe. “Using Hwy H2O as the brand for the whole system, we are enlisting the St. Lawrence River and Great Lakes Ports as partners to advocate the benefits of the system to the public, politicians, users and shippers. Already, 18 major ports have signed on, and the prospects are exciting. You will see the Hwy H2O logo showing up with increasing prominence, on port facilities and at trade events.”

Increased market research, cargo workshops, a container conference, a one-stop-shopping workshop with institutional and modal partners, and a short-sea-shipping centre of excellence in partnership with the University of Windsor are some of the other projects Corfe mentioned in his address. The Seaway will also be adopting a more proactive stance on environmental matters, said Corfe. “In promoting a busier Seaway, I am convinced we are helping to build a transportation system for central North America that is sustainable in all three critical areas – economical, social and environmental. I’ve mentioned often that the marine mode has clear environmental benefits. We recognize that marine transportation has some environmental challenges as well, and we are implementing a proactive approach to dealing with them.”

At the ceremony, Mr. Corfe was joined by his U.S. counterpart Albert Jacquez, local elected officials and representatives from Canada Steamship Lines, owners of the first vessel to pass through the Welland Canal locks this year.

(From left to right, Albert Jacquez, Administrator of the Saint Lawrence Seaway Development Corporation, Gerald Carter, President of Canada Steamship Lines, Captain Feroze Irani, and Richard Corfe, President and CEO of The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation)