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Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods

This is the stable Version.


Data from March 2020.

Planned update of the article: March 2021.

Highlights

The total gross weight of goods transported as part of EU short sea shipping was estimated at almost 1.8 billion tonnes of goods in 2018.

Italy was the major short sea shipping country in the EU in 2018, overtaking the Netherlands, with a share of almost 15 % of the total tonnage of EU short sea shipping.


Short sea shipping of freight, EU-27, 2005-2018 (million tonnes)

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-27 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 are also available for main ports in the United Kingdom, the EFTA country Norway and the candidate countries Montenegro and Turkey. The results are broken down by country, sea region, type of cargo and top ports.

Full article


Total short sea shipping

The total gross weight of goods transported as part of EU short sea shipping is estimated at almost 1.8 billion tonnes of goods in 2018, an increase of 4.4 % from the previous year. The overall increase in short sea shipping recorded by the main EU ports consolidated the gradual recovery seen in EU short sea shipping following the economic downturn in Europe in 2009 and reached a new high in 2018 (Table 1).

Table 1: Short sea shipping of freight, 2008-2018
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cwd)

Short sea shipping made up close to 59 % of the total sea transport of goods to and from the main EU ports in 2018, about the same as compared to 2017. However, the share of short sea shipping in total sea transport varies considerably between the reporting countries. The predominance of short sea shipping of goods over deep sea shipping was particularly pronounced in Finland, Malta, Cyprus, Denmark, Sweden, Ireland, Bulgaria, Italy, Latvia, Estonia, Greece, Poland, Romania, Lithuania , as well as in the United Kingdom, the EFTA country Norway and the in the candidate countries Montenegro and Turkey, all with short sea shipping shares of 70 % or more in their main ports (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Short sea shipping of freight in total sea transport, 2018
(% share in tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cw)

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 trans-shipment 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

Italy was the major short sea shipping country in the EU in 2018, overtaking the Netherlands, with a share of almost 15 % of the total tonnages of EU short sea shipping in 2017 (313 million tonnes). The Netherlands followed with 294 million tonnes and then Spain with 213 million tonnes of short shipped goods recorded in their main ports (Table 1).

Poland recorded the largest relative increase in short sea shipping between 2017 and 2018 (+19.5 % ), followed by Lithuania (+15.9 % ), Greece and Romania (both +11.1 % ), Italy (+10.4 % ) and Finland (+10.1 % ). By contrast, Cyprus recorded the largest relative fall in short sea shipping of goods (-25.3 % ), followed by Malta[1] (-18.0 % ) and Slovenia (-9.1 % ).

The short sea shipping of goods between main EU ports and ports located in the Mediterranean Sea came to more than 601 million tonnes in 2018. This amounted to 31 % of the total EU short sea shipping tonnages for all sea regions in 2018. The Mediterranean Sea was followed by the North Sea and the Baltic Sea, with shares of 23 % and 21 % of the total EU short shipping tonnages, respectively (Figure 2).

Figure 2: Short sea shipping of freight by sea region of partner ports, EU-27, 2018
(% share based on tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cws)

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 39 % of the short sea shipping of goods came from or was destined to ports located in the North Sea. Romania and Bulgaria on the Black Sea were other exceptions, with the largest share of short sea shipping going to or from the Mediterranean Sea. By comparison, countries with large ports that act as hub ports or trans-shipment points will tend to have substantial short sea shipping with ports in several sea regions (Figure 3).

Figure 3: Short sea shipping of freight by sea region of partner ports, 2018
(million tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cws)

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 734 million tonnes, liquid bulk accounted for 41 % of the total short sea shipping of goods to and from main EU ports in 2018. Liquid bulk was followed by dry bulk at 374 million tonnes (21 % ), containers at 288 million tonnes (16 % ) and roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units at 249 million tonnes (14 % ).

For liquid bulk, the Netherlands had the largest volume of short sea shipping in 2018 (153 million tonnes), followed by Italy (130 million tonnes). Netherlands also led the EU rankings for short sea shipping of dry bulk goods (53 million tonnes). Italy was the main country in terms of short sea shipping of goods in containers (60 million tonnes) and on Ro-Ro units (62 million tonnes) (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Short sea shipping of freight by type of cargo, 2018
(% share in tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cwk)

Short sea shipping of liquid bulk goods was dominant in all sea regions in 2018, even though the composition of the short sea shipping cargo varies among the sea regions. While liquid bulk goods accounted for more than 55 % of total short sea shipping of goods in the Black Sea, the comparable figure for the Atlantic Ocean was almost one third of the total. By contrast, the share of dry bulk goods in the short sea shipping of each sea region is more evenly distributed, with a range from 17 % in the Mediterranean Sea to 34 % in the Black Sea (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Short sea shipping of freight by type of cargo for each sea region of partner ports, EU-27, 2018
(% share in tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_ewx)

Goods transported in containers accounted for 23 % of the short sea cargo in the Mediterranean Sea in 2018, 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 main Ro-Ro ports. By contrast, short sea shipping of goods on Ro-Ro units barely registered in the Black Sea (less than 1 %).

Top EU ports in short sea shipping

Unlike statistics presented earlier in this article, the figures in Table 2 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 more than 40 % of the total short sea shipped goods handled in the main EU ports in 2018. Rotterdam remained the largest EU port for short sea shipping, handling a total of 207 million tonnes of short sea shipped goods in 2018. Among the other top three ports, Antwerpen handled 97 million tonnes of short shipped goods in 2018 and Hamburg handled 50 million tonnes (Table 2).

Table 2: Top 20 short sea shipping EU-27 ports, 2018
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pw)

Seven of the main deep sea hub ports, Rotterdam, Antwerpen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Algeciras, Valencia and Le Havre, handled more deep sea shipping than short sea shipping of goods. By contrast, all the other top 20 ports for short sea shipping handled more short sea shipped goods than deep sea shipped goods (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Short sea shipping of freight in total sea transport for top 20 short sea shipping EU-27 ports, 2018
(% share based on tonnes)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pw)

At 119 million tonnes, Rotterdam handled 14 % of the total short sea shipped liquid bulk goods reported by the main EU ports in 2018, by far the largest volume of short sea shipped liquid bulk for any EU port. At almost 21 million tonnes in 2018, Rotterdam overtook Amsterdam to become the EU’s largest port for short sea shipping of dry bulk goods after an increase of 18.4 % of the gross weight of goods in 2018 compared to the previous year. Rotterdam remained the EU’s largest port for short sea shipped goods in containers with 43 million tonnes in 2018, while Calais remained the largest port for short sea shipped goods on Ro-Ro units with 18 million tonnes in 2018 (Tables 3-6).

Table 3: Top 5 short sea shipping EU-27 ports for liquid bulk, 2018
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwl)


Table 4: Top 5 short sea shipping EU-27 ports for dry bulk, 2018
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwb)


Table 5: Top 5 short sea shipping EU-27 ports for containers, 2018
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwc)


Table 6: Top 5 short sea shipping EU-27 ports for roll-on and roll-off units, 2018
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_pwr)

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 2018, the top 5 ports for containers handled 38 % of the total short sea shipped container goods in main EU ports (Table 5).

In terms of number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), short sea shipping of containers in the main EU ports increased by 9.6 % from 2017 to 2018 (to over 33 million TEUs) (Table 7).

Table 7: Short sea shipping of containers, 2008-2018
(thousand TEUs)
Source: Eurostat (mar_sg_am_cv)

Decreases in 2018 compared with 2017 were observed only for 6 EU Member States. The most noticeable decrease was observed for Slovenia (-17.2 % ), followed by Spain (-8.8 % ) and Romania (-7.0 % ). By contrast, Lithuania, Italy, Poland, Belgium and Greece all recorded growth rates of more than 14 % in short sea shipping of TEUs compared with 2017. Compared with 2008, only 6 countries recorded decreases in the number of short sea shipped TEUs, the most noticeable being for the Netherlands (-19.0 % ) and Finland (-11.7 % ). Please note that the 2008-2018 figures and growth rates may be influenced by changes in data quality for certain countries (see methodological notes).

Source data for tables and graphs

Data sources

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 22 maritime EU Member States (Czechia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no maritime ports), and ports situated in the United Kingdom, 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 the United Kingdom, Norway, Montenegro 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).

Sea regions

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:

  • 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.
  • 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.

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, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Israel, Morocco, Russia, 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-27 excludes the double counting of national and international intra-EU-27 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-27 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. 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 2018 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 6 % for all countries except Spain (11%).


Figures 4 and 5:

  • Liquid bulk: liquefied gas, crude oil, oil products, other liquid bulk goods.
  • Dry bulk: ores, coal, agricultural products (e.g. grain, soya, tapioca), other dry bulk goods.
  • Large containers: 20 ft freight units, 40 ft freight units, freight units > 20 ft and < 40 ft, freight units > 40 ft.
  • Ro-Ro mobile units:

a) Mobile self-propelled units: road goods vehicles and accompanying trailers, passenger cars, motorcycles and accompanying trailers/caravans, passenger buses, trade vehicles (including import/export motor vehicles), live animals on the hoof, other mobile self-propelled units.

b) Mobile non-self-propelled units: unaccompanied road goods trailers and semi-trailers, unaccompanied caravans and other road, agricultural and industrial vehicles, rail wagons, shipborne port-to-port trailers and shipborne barges engaged in goods transport, other mobile non-self-propelled units

  • Other cargo: forestry products, iron and steel products, other general cargo. The category other cargo includes data for unknown type of cargo.

Figure 6 and Tables 2-6: The category other seaborne transport includes both deep sea shipping and transport with unidentified partner ports (unknown ports). It should be noted that in 2018 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 5 % for all the mentioned ports. When looking at each type of cargo, this share is lower than 4 % for all ports, except Rotterdam for containers (8 % ). The "Total handled in main EU-27 ports" aggregate is simply the sum of inward and outward movements of short sea shipping in main EU-27 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. The data reported by Spain contain a significant share of declarations to and from unknown ports in 2015 (10 % ), 2016 (11 % ), 2017 (15 % ) and 2018 (11 % ), while this percentage was only 4 % in 2014 and close to nil in previous years. For container statistics, the share of unknown partner ports was 8 % in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 9 % in 2011, 7 % in 2013, 2014, 6 % in 2015 and 2018 and 5 % in 2016 and 2017.

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 2009-2016. In consequence, the data for France contain a higher share of declarations to and from unknown ports in 2012 (7 % ), in 2013 (8 % ) and in 2009, 2011 and 2016 (5 % ). This share is lower than 5 % for the other years. For container statistics, the share of unknown partner ports was 5 % in 2010, 2014 and 2017, 4 % in 2011 and 2015, 8 % in 2016 and 7 % in , 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 in 2011 (28 %), in 2010 (58 %), in 2009 (61 %), in 2008 (60 %), in 2007 (59 % ), in 2006 (68 % ), in 2005 (44 % ). Between 2012 and 2015, the share is lower than 2 % . In 2016, the share rose up to 9 % . In 2018 and 2017, the share was below 2 % . This has several consequences: the volume of SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably underestimated in the earlier years and in 2016; growth rates of SSS between consecutive years may not be reliable. The same is similarly applicable to container statistics, where the share of unknown partner ports is 22 % in 2011, 64 % in 2010, 68 % in 2009 and 66 % in 2008. This share fell to 7% in 2012 and 2013, 3 % in 2014, 2 % in 2015, close to nil in 2016 and 2018. In 2017, the share was 2 % .

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

Malta (MT) 2018 data are provisional. No national maritime transport of goods reported.

Netherlands (NL) No national maritime transport of goods reported until 2010. For container statistics, the share of unknown partner ports was significant starting from 2011: 12 % in 2011, 32 % in 2012, 36 % in 2013, 41 % in 2014 and 42 % in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018. 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 the other 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. Starting from 2018, figures for Portugal include data for all national ports (both main ports and minor ports).

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 and 15 % in 2005. This share fell to almost nil since 2014. 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 more specifically applicable to container statistics, where the share of unknown partner ports is 39 % in 2013, 51% in 2011 and 2012, 50 % in 2010, 48 % in 2009 and 54 % in 2008. This share fell to 1 % in 2014, and close to nil since 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:

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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)

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Notes

  1. Data are provisional.