Port of Duluth-Superior celebrates National Maritime DayU.S. Merchant Marine veterans, current seafarers and maritime industry stakeholders gathered for lunch at the DECC on Wednesday, May 22, to celebrate National Maritime Day.
By: Naomi Yaeger, Duluth Budgeteer News
U.S. Merchant Marine veterans, current seafarers and maritime industry stakeholders gathered for lunch at the DECC on Wednesday, May 22, to celebrate National Maritime Day.
The executive director of the American Great Lakes Ports Association, Steven A. Fisher, gave the keynote address. He spoke about the recent efforts those in the Great Lakes shipping industry have taken to help the public understand the maritime business.
While Duluth media has traditionally given positive press to the shipping industry, Fisher said press in other cities along the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Seaway hadn’t been so positive. “Bad press from major newspapers was calling for closing of the St. Lawrence Seaway,” Fisher said as he projected a slide with newspaper headlines from 2009 onto a screen. “People were questioning for the first time if we were worth it.” To counter that, industry stakeholders created the American Great lake Ports Association in order to provide the public with statistics and facts about the shipping. They hired a public relations firm to help them and conducted surveys, gather facts and help push a positive message.
Now, the association, which is based in Washington, D.C., has a unified motto, “Marine Delivers!”, which highlights facts like ships are more fuel efficient and have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than trucks or trails. They have a website at www.marinedelivers.com with interactive maps and videos and a Twitter site @MarineDelivers.
“The 85 active freight-handling ports along this waterway operate as an integrated transportation system — moving over 180 million short tons of cargo annually to destinations across North America and around the world,” Fisher said. “Ports also are an engine for job growth and economic sustainability. Across the binational Great Lakes-Seaway system, marine transport creates 227,000 jobs and generates $35 billion in business revenue each year.”
National Maritime Day
“National Maritime Day is a time-honored tradition that recognizes America’s Merchant Marine for their legacy of service and sacrifice, safeguarding our nation and its trade corridors during times of war and peace,” Adele Yorde, spokeswoman for the Duluth-Superior Seaport Authority said in a prepared statement. The date, May 22, commemorates the sailing of the first steam vessel across the Atlantic Ocean in 1819, the SS
Savannah’s voyage from Georgia to Liverpool, England. Today, National Maritime Day is observed across the country as a combined salute to merchant mariners, veterans and the entire maritime industry, focusing attention on the importance of maritime industry.