Blue Accounting releases data tracking progress toward stronger Great Lakes maritime transportation system

Jun 14, 2019 | News and Announcements

Ann Arbor, Mich. – The Blue Accounting initiative today released data to track progress toward a more robust, efficient and sustainable maritime transportation system in the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River Basin. Blue Accounting is providing elected officials and resource managers with a first-ever system wide view of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system, including maritime transportation strategies and investments made by U.S., Canadian, and private sector sources. The system links more than 100 U.S. and Canadian ports to the world economy, moves approximately 200 million tons of cargo annually, and generates more than 325,000 jobs and $45 billion in economic activity in the U.S. and Canada.

Jim Weakley, president of the Lake Carriers’ Association and Great Lakes Commissioner, emphasized that “maritime transportation is vital for the economic health of our eight-state, two-province region, particularly for key industries such as steel production. Blue Accounting provides an important new resource to illustrate the impact of maritime transportation and help our elected leaders understand the strategies and investments needed to maximize this critical component of our regional economic infrastructure.”

With guidance from a work group of U.S. and Canadian maritime leaders, Blue Accounting is now tracking progress toward three goals established by the region’s governors and premiers in a 2016 strategy: 1) increasing maritime traffic and trade; 2) increasing efficiency and performance; and 3) continuing to improve environmental performance. Blue Accounting assembled data for six key metrics for the goals: cargo volume, cargo value, container cargo volume, cruise tourism, navigation lock reliability, and participation in the Green Marine environmental performance certification program. Blue Accounting also summarizes strategies for strengthening the maritime transportation system and associated investments from federal and state/provincial agencies and the private sector. This context will help decision-makers understand the “how” and “why” behind the performance of the system.

Bruce Burrows, president of the binational Chamber of Marine Commerce, noted that “the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River maritime transportation system is the safest, most efficient and environmentally smart method for shipping cargo within North America and with the global economy, and provides a significant competitive advantage for Canadian and U.S. industries.” He welcomed the Blue Accounting maritime transportation project, noting that “Blue Accounting will help us track progress toward our common goals for the maritime transportation system and showcase the policies, programs and investments that are vital for maintaining and growing maritime commerce in our region in the future.”

Blue Accounting’s information hub makes key data and information open and accessible to decision-makers and stakeholders across the Great Lakes Basin. Blue Accounting expects to expand the maritime transportation metrics it tracks in the future. In addition to maritime transportation, Blue Accounting is also tracking progress toward regional goals related to coastal wetland restoration and protection; aquatic invasive species prevention and control; nutrient reduction in Lake Erie; and drinking water protection.

The Great Lakes Commission and The Nature Conservancy co-lead Blue Accounting, in partnership with federal, state, provincial, local and private sector organizations. Blue Accounting receives funding support from the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation, the Joyce Foundation, and the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Foundation.

The Great Lakes Commission, led by chair John Linc Stine, former commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, is an interstate compact agency established under state and U.S. federal law and dedicated to promoting a strong economy, healthy environment and high quality of life for the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence region and its residents. The Commission consists of governors’ appointees, state legislators, and agency officials from its eight member states. Associate membership for Ontario and Québec was established through the signing of a “Declaration of Partnership.” The Commission maintains a formal Observer program involving U.S. and Canadian federal agencies, tribal authorities, binational agencies and other regional interests. The Commission office is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Learn more at


For media inquiries, please contact Hannah Reynolds, [email protected].

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