Short Sea Shipping's Costs Weighed

Short Sea Shipping’s Costs Weighed

Report examines the harmful impacts of short sea shipping in California and proposes ways to reduce them

San Francisco, CA—Friends of the Earth today released a report detailing the environmental challenges associated with short sea shipping—the regional transportation of goods by ship, rather than by truck or railcar.

Domestic freight transportation is projected to increase rapidly within the next decade, and short sea shipping has been championed as an economical and environmentally friendly alternative to land transportation.

However, Friends of the Earth has found in the new report, “Expanding Short Sea Shipping in California: Environmental Impacts and Recommended Best Practices,” that the environmental consequences of short sea shipping have received insufficient scrutiny. The report delves into detail about the potentially harmful health and environmental impacts of increased shipping and ways to mitigate them.

“Short sea shipping has the potential to be greener than other types of freight transport.  However, major threats related to expanded operations — such as air pollution, ocean noise, and strikes of marine mammals — have yet to be thoroughly addressed; until they are, claims about its environmental superiority will ring hollow,” said John Kaltenstein of Friends of the Earth, who authored the report.

“We have found that adopting the most environmentally advanced technologies is crucial to minimizing the negative impacts of short sea shipping,” Kaltenstein said. “Industry leaders should adopt best practices and use low-emissions fuel, plug into electric shore power at berth, conduct regular equipment maintenance, and slow ship speeds. Where industry leaders fail to act, policymakers should step in to protect the public.”

The report also recommends that the Maritime Administration (MARAD) facilitate a comprehensive, transparent review of short sea shipping’s impact on public health and the environment, and share the review’s conclusions with the public.

The report can be viewed at: /news/archives/2011-01-new-report-recommends-best-practices-for-expanding-s.

Contact: Kelly Trout, 202-222-0722, [email protected]; Nick Berning, 202-222-0748, [email protected]


Friends of the Earth and our network of grassroots groups in 76 countries fight to create a more healthy, just world. Our current campaigns focus on clean energy and solutions to climate change, keeping toxic and risky technologies out of the food we eat and products we use, and protecting marine ecosystems and the people who live and work near them.

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