Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods

Data from February 2017. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database. Planned update of the article: March 2018.

This article presents recent short sea shipping (SSS) statistics of the European Union (EU), covering the transport of goods between main ports in the EU-28 member states and ports situated in geographical Europe or in non-European countries on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea. In addition to the EU Member States, short sea shipping statistics is also available for main ports in the EFTA country Norway and the candidate country Turkey. The results are broken down by country, sea region, type of cargo and top ports. Please note that the 2009-2015 figures for France are provisional estimates which are likely to be revised.

Table 1: Short Sea Shipping (SSS) of goods by reporting country and direction, 2005-2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cwd)
Figure 1: Share of Short Sea Shipping (SSS) of goods in total sea transport in 2015 (in % of total gross weight of goods transported)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cw)
Figure 2: EU-28 Short Sea Shipping (SSS) of goods by sea region of partner ports in 2015 (in % of total gross weight of goods transported)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cws)
Table 2: Short Sea Shipping (SSS) of goods by reporting country and sea region of partner ports in 2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cws)
Table 3: Short Sea Shipping (SSS) of goods by reporting country and type of cargo in 2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cwk)
Figure 3: EU-28 Short Sea Shipping (SSS) of goods by type of cargo for each sea region of partner ports in 2015 (in % of total gross weight of goods transported)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_ewx)
Table 4: EU-28 Top 20 Short Sea Shipping (SSS) ports in 2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pw)
Figure 4: Share of Short Sea Shipping (SSS) in total maritime transport for EU-28 top 20 SSS ports in 2015 (in % of total gross weight of goods transported)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pw)
Table 5: Liquid bulk - EU-28 Top 5 Short Sea Shipping (SSS) ports in 2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwl)
Table 6: Dry bulk - EU-28 Top 5 Short Sea Shipping (SSS) ports in 2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwb)
Table 7: Containers - EU-28 Top 5 Short Sea Shipping (SSS) ports in 2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwc)
Table 8: Roll-on_Roll-off units - EU-28 Top 5 Short Sea Shipping (SSS) ports in 2015 (gross weight of goods in Mio tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwr)
Table 9: Short Sea Shipping (SSS) of containers by reporting country, 2005-2015 (volume of containers in 1000 TEUs)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cv)

Main statistical findings

The total gross weight of goods transported as part of EU short sea shipping is estimated at 1.8 billion tonnes of goods in 2015, an increase of 0.9 % from the previous year. The overall increase in short sea shipping recorded by the main EU ports seemed to consolidate the gradual recovery seen in EU short sea shipping following the economic downturn in Europe in 2009. Even so, the 2015 level of EU short sea shipping still remained below the levels recorded in the years immediately preceding the economic downturn (Table 1).

Short sea shipping made up close to 59 % of the total maritime transport of goods to and from the main EU ports in 2015, about the same as in 2014. However, the share of short sea shipping in total maritime transport varies considerably between the reporting countries. The predominance of short sea shipping of goods over deep sea shipping was particularly pronounced in Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Finland, Sweden, the UK and in the EFTA country Norway, all with short sea shipping shares of 70 % or more in their main ports (Figure 1).

Geographical considerations, such as long coast lines or a large number of inhabited islands, will play a part in explaining the high share of short sea shipping in most of these countries. A large volume of feeder services to or from hub ports will also explain the high degree of short sea shipping transport in countries which function as regional transshipment points. In contrast, the share of short sea shipping is lower than 50 % in countries with major ports focused on intercontinental trade, such as Spain and the Netherlands.

Short sea shipping by sea region and country

The United Kingdom (UK) remained the major short sea shipping country in Europe in 2015, with a share of more than 14 % of the total tonnages of EU short sea shipping in 2015 (313 million tonnes). The UK was followed by the Netherlands with 286 million tonnes and Italy with 272 million tonnes of short shipped goods recorded in their main ports (Table 1).

Malta recorded the largest relative increase in short sea shipping between 2014 and 2015 (+16.7 % from a low base), followed by Slovenia (+15.2 %), Croatia (+14.2 %) and Denmark (+9.7 %). In contrast, Estonia recorded the largest relative fall in short sea shipping of goods (-20.7 %), followed by Finland (-4.6 %) and Latvia (-3.4 %).

The short sea shipping of goods between main EU ports and ports located in the Mediterranean came to 598 million tonnes in 2015. This amounted to 29 % of the total EU short sea shipping tonnages for all sea regions in 2015. The Mediterranean was followed by the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, with shares of 26 % and 22 % of the total EU short shipping tonnages, respectively (Figure 2).

For most countries, the highest share of their short sea shipping of goods was with partner ports located in the same sea region or sea regions. There are some exceptions, like Latvia on the Baltic, where about half of the short sea shipping of goods came from or was destined to ports located in the North Sea. Romania on the Black Sea was another exception, with the largest share of short sea shipping going to or from the Mediterranean. In comparison, countries with large ports that act as hub ports or transshipment points will tend to have substantial short sea shipping with ports in several sea regions (Table 2).

Short sea shipping by type of cargo

As in previous years, liquid bulk remained the dominant type of cargo in EU short sea shipping. At 813 million tonnes, liquid bulk accounted for about 45 % of the total short sea shipping of goods to and from main EU ports in 2015. Liquid bulk was followed by dry bulk at 364 million tonnes (20 %), containers at 264 million tonnes (15 %) and roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units at 248 million tonnes (14 %).

For liquid bulk, the Netherlands had the largest volume of short sea shipping in 2015 (167 million tonnes), followed by Italy (125 million tonnes) and the UK (116 million tonnes). The UK led the EU rankings for short sea shipping of dry bulk goods (61 million tonnes) and for short sea shipping of goods on Ro-Ro units (92 million tonnes). At 50 million tonnes, Italy was the main country in terms of short sea shipping of goods in containers, followed by Germany at 49 million tonnes and Spain at 46 million tonnes (Table 3).

Short sea shipping of liquid bulk goods was dominant in all sea regions in 2015, even though the composition of the short sea shipping cargo varies among the sea regions. While liquid bulk goods accounted for more than 60 % of total short sea shipping of goods in the Black Sea, the comparable figure for the Atlantic Ocean was just about one third of the total. In contrast, the share of dry bulk goods in the short sea shipping of each sea region is more evenly distributed, with a range from 16 % in the Mediterranean to 26 % in the Black Sea (Figure 3).

Goods transported in containers accounted for 22 % of the short sea cargo in the Mediterranean in 2015, while it only made up 5 % of the short sea shipping in the Black Sea. Similarly, goods transported on Ro-Ro units accounted for 24 % of the short sea shipping in the Atlantic Ocean, due to the location of the two main Ro-Ro ports Dover in the UK and Calais in France. In contrast, short sea shipping of goods on Ro-Ro units barely registered in the Black Sea.

Top EU short sea ports

Unlike statistics presented earlier in this article, the figures in Table 4 do not estimate the seaborne transport of goods between the main European ports and their partner ports in the short sea shipping area (where double-counting of the same goods being reported as outward transport in one port and inward transport in another port is excluded), but present the handling of short sea shipped goods in the main EU ports (inward movements plus outward movements in the ports, except for transport movements within the same statistical port – see methodological notes).

The top 20 ports accounted for 37 % of the total short sea shipped goods handled in the main EU-28 ports in 2015. Rotterdam in the Netherlands remained the largest EU port for short sea shipping, handling a total of 204 million tonnes of short sea shipped goods in 2015. Among the other top three ports, Antwerpen in Belgium handled 97 million tonnes of short shipped goods in 2015 and Hamburg in Germany handled 50 million tonnes (Table 4).

A few of the main deep sea hub ports, such as Rotterdam and Hamburg, as well as Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Algeciras and Valencia in Spain, handle more deep sea shipping than short sea shipping of goods. In contrast, all the other top 20 ports for short sea shipping handled more short sea shipped goods than deep sea shipped goods (Figure 4).

At 135 million tonnes, Rotterdam handled more than 13 % of the total short sea shipped liquid bulk goods reported by the main EU ports in 2015, by far the largest volume of short sea shipped liquid bulk for any EU port. At 19 million tonnes, Riga in Latvia confirmed its position as the EU’s largest port for short sea shipping of dry bulk goods. Antwerpen remained the EU’s largest port for short sea shipped goods in containers with 43 million tonnes, while Dover remained the largest port for short shipped goods on Ro-Ro units with 27 million tonnes (Tables 5-8).

Short sea shipping of containers

Unlike for instance the dry bulk segment, short sea shipping of goods in containers is concentrated around a limited number of main hub ports. In 2015, the top 5 ports for containers handled about 35 % of the total short sea shipped container goods in main EU ports. Antwerpen alone had a share of 11 % of the total tonnages of short sea shipped goods in containers in 2015, followed by Rotterdam, Hamburg, Piraeus and Bremerhaven with shares from 8 % to 5 % of the short sea shipped container total. Except for Piraeus, however, the top containers ports recorded larger tonnages of deep sea shipped than short sea shipped goods in containers (Table 7).

In terms of number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), short sea shipping of containers in the main EU ports decreased by 1.8 % from 2014 to 2015 (to just over 30 million TEUs). However, it is also worth noting that the number of short sea shipped TEUs handled in main EU ports in 2015 was well above the levels recorded before the economic downturn in 2009, reflecting a shift towards short sea transport of goods in containers in recent years (Table 9).

Ireland, Croatia, Slovenia and the United Kingdom all recorded growth rates more than 10 % in short sea shipping of TEUs compared with 2014. In contrast, Lithuania (-22 %), Poland (-22%), Estonia (-20 %) and Malta (-13.5%) reported substantial relative decreases in the number of short sea shipped TEUs between 2014 and 2015. Compared with 2005, only Ireland, the Netherlands and Finland recorded decreases in the number of short sea shipped TEUs. Please note that the 2005-2015 figures and growth rates may be influenced by changes in data quality for certain countries (see methodological notes).

Data sources and availability

The statistics in this article are based on data collected within the framework of Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea. The relevant data on port of loading and unloading of the goods is mainly collected for main ports, passengers by sea. The relevant data on port of loading and unloading of the goods is mainly collected for main ports, which are defined as ports handling more than 1 million tonnes of goods annually. Data is collected at level of statistical ports.

The short sea shipping (SSS) statistics present seaborne transport of goods between main ports in the maritime EU Member States and partner ports situated in geographical Europe or in non-European countries on the Mediterranean and on the Black Sea. In consequence, the article covers short sea shipping of goods to and from main ports in the 23 maritime EU Member States and ports situated in the maritime EFTA countries Iceland and Norway, the maritime candidate countries Montenegro, Albania and Turkey, the maritime potential candidate country Bosnia–Herzegovina and the remaining countries with ports situated on the Baltic (Russia), on the Mediterranean ( Algeria, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian territories, Syria, and Tunisia) and on the Black Sea (Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine). In addition to the maritime EU Member States, similar short sea shipping statistics are also available for seaborne transport to and from main ports in Norway and Turkey.

The definition of short sea shipping is derived from the Communication of the Commission COM (1999) 317 on the development of Short Sea Shipping in Europe. In consequence, the concept of short sea shipping includes both regular short sea shipping and feeder services (short sea shipping between ports in order for freight to be consolidated or redistributed to or from a deep sea service in one of the ports in a network (hub ports). The category other seaborne transport in the tables and figures includes both deep sea shipping and transport with unidentified partner ports (unknown ports).

The following sea regions have been taken into account to group the short sea shipping partner ports: the Baltic, the North Sea, the Atlantic Ocean (including the English Channel and the Irish Sea), the Mediterranean and the Black Sea.

1. The Baltic:

  • Danish ports below the Helsingborg–Korsør–Nyborg–Kolding line (including Helsingor).
  • All ports of Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland as well as German and Russian ports on the Baltic.
  • The Swedish ports on the Baltic from Helsingborg (included).

2. The North Sea:

  • All ports of Norway, the Netherlands and Belgium as well as the ports of Germany on the North Sea.
  • Swedish ports on the North Sea from Helsingborg (excluded).
  • Danish ports on north of the Helsingborg–Korsor–Nyborg–Kolding line and North Denmark (excluding Helsingor). Faroe Islands.
  • United Kingdom: ports on the east coast of Great Britain from Ramsgate (included) to Cape Wrath in Scotland, the Shetland Islands and Orkney Islands.

3. The Atlantic Ocean:

  • United Kingdom: ports of Great Britain on the Channel (from Ramsgate excluded) and the west coast to Cape Wrath in Scotland; ports in Northern Ireland.
  • All ports of Ireland, Portugal (including Açores and Madeira) and Iceland.
  • French ports on the Atlantic Ocean and on the Channel, up to the Belgian border.
  • Spanish ports on the Atlantic Ocean to Tarifa (included); Canary Islands are included.

4. The Mediterranean:

  • Spanish ports on the Mediterranean from Tarifa (excluded).
  • French ports on the Mediterranean.
  • All ports of Malta, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Montenegro, Albania, Greece, Cyprus, Syria, Lebanon, Occupied Palestinian territory, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Gibraltar.
  • Ports of Morocco, Egypt and Israel on the Mediterranean.
  • Ports of Turkey on the Mediterranean (including the ports on the Bosporus).

5. The Black Sea:

  • All Black Sea ports excluding the ports on the Bosporus.

6. Others:

  • Non-identified ports of Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and Egypt; river ports of EU countries.

Please note that ports located in Morocco–West Africa, Egypt–Red Sea, Israel–Red Sea and Russia–Barents and White Seas are not part of the European short sea shipping area.

Comparability over time and between countries

Exclusion of double counting

All the results shown in this publication are calculated on the basis of the statistics declared by main ports vis-à-vis their partner ports. In order to estimate the seaborne transport of goods between the ports, any double counting of the same cargo being declared by both the port of loading as outward movements of goods and the port of unloading as inwards movements of goods has to be excluded. In cases where data is collected for both the port of loading and the port of unloading, the double counting is excluded by only taking the inwards movements in ports into account when calculating the total transport on the maritime routes in question. The algorithm for this exclusion of double counting is applied at statistical port level.

The total SSS per country excludes the double counting in the national transport declarations. The total SSS for the EU-28 excludes the double counting of national and international intra-EU transport declarations. The total aggregates per country may therefore differ from the sum of inwards and outwards declarations for the country. Similarly, the total aggregates for the EU-28 may differ from the sum of inwards and outwards declarations and also from the sum of the country totals.

Comparability over time

In 2006, data concerning transport to/from Russian ports located on the Barents Sea and the White Sea started being collected separately. Transport to/from these ports is not included in the definition of European short sea shipping. However, prior to 2006 this transport was most probably included in the reported transport to/from Russia. The impact of this structural change in the data collection could be a slight underestimation of the growth rates between 2005 and 2006. In the case of France, this structural change was implemented in 2007, which may imply a slight underestimation of the growth rates between 2006 and 2007 for the French short sea shipping.

Specific remarks for tables and figures

Figure 1: The category other seaborne transport includes both deep sea shipping and transport with unidentified partner ports (unknown ports). It should be noted that in 2015 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 4 % for all countries except Spain (11%).

Table 2: In this table, double counting has been excluded also at sea region level. In cases where data is collected for both the port of loading and the port of unloading, and where both ports belong to the same country and the same sea region, only the incoming goods declared by each port were summed up. For this reason the total obtained by summing up the figures for sea regions at country level may differ from the total figure shown in the last column (where double counting has been excluded only at country level). The same applies at EU level. As a consequence the percentages shown in Figure 2 are calculated using as denominator the sum of the figures for sea regions at EU-28 level as shown in Table 2 (instead of the total for the EU-28).

Figure 3 and Table 3: The category other cargo includes data for unknown type of cargo.

Figure 4 and Tables 4-8: The category other seaborne transport includes both deep sea shipping and transport with unidentified partner ports (unknown ports). It should be noted that in 2015 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 5 % for all the mentioned ports. The "Total handled in main EU-28 ports" aggregate is simply the sum of inward and outward movements of short sea shipping in main EU-28 ports (no elimination of double counting between ports), except for transport movements within the same statistical port (where only inward movements are used).

Special symbols used in the tables

  • ":" Not available
  • Mio Million

Country specific remarks

Germany (DE) Starting from 2013, the figures for Germany include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).

Ireland (IE) The detailed data needed for short sea shipping statistics are available for the port of Rosslare from 2009. In 2008, this port accounted for approximately 5 % of the total tonnage handled in Irish ports.

Spain (ES) Data include Ceuta and Melilla. Starting from 2011, the figures for Spain include data for a number of regional ports outside the state-controlled port system.

France (FR) Taking into account the definition of European short sea shipping, the figures do not include transport with the French overseas territories (Départements d’Outre Mer/Collectivités d’Outre Mer). The quarterly data for port activity in France have been partially estimated by Eurostat for the period 2009-2015. In consequence, the data for France contain a higher share of declarations to and from unknown ports in 2012 and 2013 (about 8 %). This share is lower than 5 % for the previous years and for 2014-2015. For container statistics (table 9), the share of unknown partner ports was significant in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2015 (5 %, 4 %, 5 % and 4 % respectively), while it fell to about 1 % in 2012, 3 % in 2013 and was close to nil in other years.

Italy (IT) Data for some ports (Napoli and Brindisi) is underestimated for the 4th quarter 2008. Starting from 2009, data for some Italian ports have better coverage than in previous years, due to a change in the data collection methodology.

Cyprus (CY) The data reported by Cyprus contain a significant share of declarations to and from unknown partner ports until 2011 (28 % in 2011, 58 % in 2010, 61 % in 2009, 60 % in 2008, 59 % in 2007, 68 % in 2006, 44 % in 2005 and 63 % in 2004). Since 2012, the share is lower than 2 %. This has several consequences: the volume of SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably underestimated in the earlier years; growth rates of SSS between consecutive years may not be reliable. The same is also applicable to container statistics (table 9), where the share of unknown partner ports is 22 % in 2011, 64 % in 2010, 68 % in 2009, 66 % in 2008, 67 % in 2007, 61 % in 2006, 58 % in 2005 and 23 % in 2004. This share felt to 7% in 2012 and 2013, 3 % in 2014 and to 2 % in 2015.

Lithuania (LT) No national maritime transport of goods reported.

Malta (MT) No national maritime transport of goods reported.

Netherlands (NL) No national maritime transport of goods reported until 2010. For container statistics (table 9), the share of unknown partner ports was significant starting from 2011: 12 % in 2011, 32 % in 2012, 36 % in 2013 and 41 % in 2014 and 2015. This has several consequences: the number of TEUs in SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably underestimated; growth rates of TEUs in SSS between consecutive years may not be reliable.

Portugal (PT) Data include Açores and Madeira. The data reported by Portugal contain a significant share of declarations to and from unknown ports in 2009 (13 %), while this percentage was close to nil in previous years. This has several consequences: the volume of SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably underestimated; growth rates of SSS between consecutives years may not be reliable.

Romania (RO) The data reported by Romania contain a significant share of declarations to and from unknown partner ports: 5 % in 2013, 6 % in 2010, 2011 and 2012, 7 % in 2009, 13 % in 2008, 27 % in 2007, 21 % in 2006, 15 % in 2005 and 10 % in 2004. This share fell to 0.1 % in 2014 and 2015. This has several consequences: the volume of SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably underestimated in the earlier years; growth rates of SSS between consecutive years may not be reliable. In particular the decrease between 2008 and 2009 is probably underestimated. The same is more specifically applicable to container statistics (table 9), where the share of unknown partner ports is 39 % in 2013, 51% in 2011 and 2012, 50 % in 2010, 48 % in 2009, 54 % in 2008, 95 % in 2007, 84 % in 2006, 73 % in 2005 and 58 % in 2004. This share felt to 1 % in 2014, and close to nil in 2015.

Sweden (SE) Starting from 2013, the figures for Sweden include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).

Context

The content of this statistical article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive (Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea), which is a recast of the original Council Directive 95/64/EC of 8 December 1995.

The basic legal act (Directive 2009/42/EC) was amended by:

The following legal acts include respectively the last official version of the list of ports and some dissemination aspects:

See also

Further Eurostat information

Publications

Database

Maritime transport (mar)
Maritime transport - main annual results (mar_m)
Maritime transport - short sea shipping - Main annual results (mar_s)
Maritime transport - passengers (mar_pa)
Maritime transport - goods (mar_go)
Maritime transport - vessel traffic (mar_tf)
Maritime transport - regional statistics (mar_rg)

Dedicated section

Methodology / Metadata

Other information

Responsible unit

  • E3 Transport