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Citing climate change, Panama Canal institutes $10,000 fresh water surcharge

Acknowledging the climate crisis, the Panama Canal Authority is adding a $10,000 fresh water surcharge for all transits of vessels that are longer than 38.1 m, effective February 15. In addition, a variable fee ranging from a minimum of 1% to a maximum of 10% of the vessel’s toll will be applied. The percentage to be applied will depend on Gatun Lake’s level at the time of transit. The lake is a key part of the waterway, where water levels have dropped alarmingly over the last 12 months. The official lake level will be published daily, as well as forecasted for the following two months.

The Central American nation has battled enormous droughts of late, which saw the canal’s watershed being approximately 20% below normal levels last year and stark images of previously submerged trees reemerging along the edges of the expanded canal.

In other measures announced this week the Panama Canal will cut its daily slot reservations from 32 to 27.

Canal administrator Ricaurte Vasquez told a news conference that these measures were needed to tackle the impact of climate change.

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Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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