國際時事跟讀 Ep.K643: Panama Canal Faces Ship Traffic Limits Amid Drought Impact
The Panama Canal, a crucial maritime passage connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, is confronting a significant challenge as its water levels drop due to an ongoing drought. This environmental concern has compelled officials to implement restrictions on the number of ships that can navigate through the canal on a daily basis.
Ricaurte Vásquez Morales, the canal's administrator, disclosed that the operating team has made the difficult decision to limit the passage of ships to a maximum of 32 per day. This marks a reduction of approximately 14% from the usual average of 36 to 38 daily ship transits. The rationale behind this measure lies in the canal's reliance on freshwater rather than seawater. Insufficient rainfall during the summer season has adversely affected the canal's water supply, leading to a diminished capacity to accommodate regular traffic.
巴拿馬運河的總管Ricaurte Vásquez Morales透露，運河的營運團隊已經做出了艱難的決定，將每天通過運河的船隻數量限制為最多32艘。這表示了每天船舶過境數量從平常的36到38艘左右減少了約14％。這項措施背後的理由在於，運河依賴的是淡水而不是海水。夏季期間降雨不足對運河的水供應造成了不利影響，導致運河容納常規交通的能力減弱。
As a direct consequence of the constrained ship traffic, the Panama Canal is also bracing for a potential financial setback. Vásquez expressed concerns that the canal's earnings could plunge by a staggering $200 million in the upcoming year. This sharp decline in revenue is primarily attributed to the projected loss of income resulting from reduced ship movements.
Notably, the Panama Canal's unique reliance on freshwater sets it apart from other maritime routes that utilize seawater for their operations. Vásquez highlighted this distinction, emphasizing the challenges posed by the current drought. In light of these difficulties, he stressed the necessity of adaptation to ensure the canal's viability as an indispensable international trade route.
The situation is further compounded by meteorological projections indicating the possible exacerbation of the drought. The El Niño climate pattern, known for causing both drought and flooding in the Pacific Ocean, could potentially worsen the already precarious water supply situation of the canal.
In response to these challenges, Vásquez emphasized the urgency of finding alternative solutions to maintain the canal's relevance for global trade. He candidly stated that failure to adapt to the evolving circumstances could prove detrimental, even leading to the canal's eventual decline. Vásquez also acknowledged that continued limitations on ship traffic might prompt shipping companies to explore alternative routes, underscoring the need for prompt and effective action.
Reference article: https://www.businessinsider.com/panama-canal-drought-travel-ships-income-falling-el-nino-2023-8