Great Lakes cargo shipments were up during the season’s first full month of shipping.

U.S.-flag ships moved a total of 7.5 million tons of cargo in April, up 23 percent compared to a year ago and almost 21 percent ahead of April’s five-year average, according to the Lake Carriers’ Association, which represents 13 U.S. companies and their 46 ships.

Shipping in March and April 2018 had been bogged down by delays caused by heavy ice, causing a 16-percent drop in shipments compared to the start of the 2017 season.

The 2019 Great Lakes shipping season started March 25 with the opening of the Soo Locks.

April 2019 iron ore cargoes for steel production totaled 4.3 million tons, an increase of more than 9 percent from last year and up 18 percent from the month’s 5-year average.

Coal shipments were up 61.3 percent to 1.2 million tons in April as limestone cargoes increased 37 percent to 1.5 million tons.

Year-to-date cargo sits at 11.8 million tons, an increase of 25 percent compared to the same point in 2018. Iron ore cargoes total 7.7 million tons, an increase of 13.6 percent. Coal shipments doubled to 1.6 million tons and limestone cargoes have also increased to 1.7 million tons.