Drought Threatens Shipping on the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal is responsible for facilitating trade as 40 percent of worldwide cargo ship traffic uses it to move between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Marine Insight says almost two-thirds of the canal’s traffic load is either heading to or leaving the United States. The group managing the Canal restricted the number of ships passing through each day, as well as the amount of cargo they could carry. They made the decision because of the decreasing water supply caused by the ongoing drought due to El Niño conditions.

That will mean fewer than 34 ships can move through the canal in both directions every day. That’s compared to the 34 to 42 it can handle at peak capacity. The new restrictions could force companies to find alternative routes. The canal system depends on lakes whose levels are now close to their minimum points.