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Stockton Port's Activity Dropped in 2009

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  • Pacific Merchant Marine Council
    Ship Visits and Maritime Tonnage decline last year at the Port of Stockton Recession cut deeply into shipping levels By Reed Fujii Recordnet.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 7, 2010
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      Ship Visits and Maritime Tonnage decline last year at the Port of Stockton

      Recession cut deeply into shipping levels
      Stockton Record Staff Writer
      January 07, 2010 12:01 AM

      The construction industry collapse and last fall's credit crisis sharply cut into shipping activity at the Port of Stockton, its director reported Wednesday.

      "We saw a decrease in construction-oriented shipping, such as cement and steel, and you also saw a decrease in the latter half of last year in the windmill segments we were handling," Port Director Richard Aschieris said.

      Maritime shipments in 2009 totaled more than 1.3 million metric tons, he said Wednesday, down 22.6 percent from the 1.7 million metric tons tallied the year before. A metric ton is 2,200 pounds.

      The port counted 102 ships and 13 barges delivering or receiving cargo at the port last year, compared with 149 ships and 21 barges in 2008.

      Construction material shipments are directly tied to the recession and the building industry's decline, Aschieris said. The port also was busy handling windmill tower segments - built mostly in Asia and being moved to wind energy projects in the Midwest - until the global credit crunch brought those developments to a halt.

      "A lot of other things have held steady," Aschieris said. "We've done well in the export of California bagged rice in 2009. We've also done well in fertilizer imports."

      Fertilizer volume is expected to rise further this year, as Yara North America recently completed a $30 million expansion of its terminal and distribution facility at the port.

      Also, Aschieris said he's received inquiries from another wind energy windmill manufacturer. "We are expecting windmills to start to return in the spring," he said.

      An economic report released Wednesday by the Business Forecasting Center at University of the Pacific cited a number of factors that would contribute to the long-term recovery of the California economy. Among them are increased exports and investment in new energy technologies, which will almost certainly benefit the Port of Stockton.

      Aschieris said he would expect a resurgence of cement and steel shipments as well.

      "In the medium to the long term, the population of the state of California is going to increase, and therefore, that increased population will need places to live and work and go to school," he said. "So there will be more construction at some point."

      Exports of agricultural commodities, such as cotton, hay and rice, also should remain strong in the future, Aschieris said.

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