Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods
From Statistics Explained
- Data from April 2014. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents recent short sea shipping statistics of the European Union (EU), covering the transport of goods between ports in the EU-28 on the one hand, and ports situated in geographical Europe, on the Mediterranean and Black Sea on the other hand. Data is also available for Iceland, Norway and Turkey. The results are broken down by sea regions (Atlantic Ocean, Baltic Sea, etc.) and by type of cargo. The figures presented are for maritime transport of goods reported by main ports.
- 1 Main statistical findings
- 2 Data sources and availability
- 3 Context
- 4 See also
- 5 Further Eurostat information
Main statistical findings
In 2012, the short sea shipping (SSS) in the EU-28 was close to 1.8 billion tonnes of freight. Short sea shipping volumes in the main ports of the United Kingdom (UK) came to 311 million tonnes of cargo in 2012, accounting for 14% of total short sea shipping in the EU-28 countries. The UK was followed by Italy and the Netherlands, with 13% and 12% of the EU-28 total, respectively.
Short sea shipping represented 60% of total EU-28 maritime transport of goods in 2012, about the same as in 2011. However, the share of short sea shipping in total maritime transport varies widely between countries. The predominance of short sea shipping of goods over other seaborne transport ("deep sea shipping") was particularly pronounced (more than 80%) in Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Finland and Sweden, as well as in the EEA country Norway.
Geographical considerations will play a part in explaining the high share of short sea shipping in most of these countries. A large volume of feeder services may also explain the high degree of short sea shipping transport in countries which function as transhipment points, such as Malta. In contrast, the share of short sea shipping is lower than 60% in countries with major ports concentrating on intercontinental trade (such as Belgium, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia).
Short sea shipping of goods between main EU-28 ports and ports located in the Mediterranean was 577 million tonnes in 2012. This accounts for about 29% of the total short sea shipping tonnages declared by the main EU-28 ports. Short sea shipping with the North Sea and the Baltic Sea followed, with 506 and 421 million tonnes, respectively (25% and 21% of the total).
For most countries, the highest share of their short sea shipping of goods was with partner ports located in the same sea region as their own coastline. There are some exceptions, like Latvia, where about half of the short sea shipping of goods came from or was destined to ports located in the North Sea. Romania ant the Netherlands are two other exceptions, with the Mediterranean taking the largest share of short sea shipping for Romania and the Baltic Sea taking the largest part for the Netherlands.
The total tonnage of short sea shipping in main EU ports declined 0.7% from 2011 to 2012, reversing the gradual recovery seen in European short sea shipping after the economic downturn in 2009. Consequently, the 2012 level of European short sea shipping remained below the level recorded 7 years earlier, in 2005.
Estonia recorded the largest fall in short sea shipping of goods in 2012 (-19%), followed by France (-12%) and Croatia (-8%). Please note that the 2012 figures for France are Eurostat estimates based on partial data for French ports. Please also note that the substantial increase observed in the short sea shipping tonnages for Cyprus in 2012 (+28%) may largely reflect an improvement in data quality (see methodological notes).
Transport by type of cargo
At 816 million tonnes, liquid bulk accounted for 46% of the total short sea shipping of goods to and from the EU-28 in 2012, followed by dry bulk at 358 million tonnes (20%). Containers accounted for 238 million tonnes of goods in 2012 and Roll on - roll off (Ro-Ro) units accounted for 234 million tonnes of goods in 2011 and containers a total of 231 million tonnes (both cargo types accounted for about 13 % of the total tonnages).
For liquid bulk, the Netherlands had the largest volume of short sea shipping in 2012 (155 million tonnes), followed by Italy (142 million tonnes) and the UK (130 million tonnes). The UK had by far the largest short sea shipping of Ro-Ro units in 2012 (83 million tonnes). The UK also led the EU-28 ranking for short sea shipping of dry bulk goods, with 62 million tonnes. At 48 million tonnes, Germany was the main country in terms of short sea shipping of containers in 2012, followed by Spain at 43 million tonnes and Belgium at 41 million tonnes.
As in previous years, liquid bulk remained the largest cargo type in all sea regions in 2012. However, while liquid bulk goods accounted for almost two thirds of total short sea shipping of goods in the Black Sea, the comparable figure for the Atlantic Ocean was 34%. There was variation in the share of dry bulk goods between the sea regions, with a range from 15% in the Mediterranean to 25% in the Black Sea. At 19%, the Mediterranean had the largest share of short sea shipping of containers in 2012. For Ro-Ro units, the Atlantic Ocean (where the two main Ro-Ro ports, Dover and Calais, are located) accounted for 21% of the total.
Top EU-28 ports
The top-20 ports accounted for 35% of the total short sea shipping of goods in the EU in 2012. Rotterdam in the Netherlands remained the largest EU port also for short sea shipping, with a total of 174 million tonnes shipped in 2012. With Antwerpen in Belgium handling the second largest tonnages of short sea shipping in 2012 (87 million tonnes) and Marseille on the Mediterranean coast of France handling 53 million tonnes, the top three ports were left unchanged.
Except for the main deep sea hub ports – Rotterdam, Antwerpen, Hamburg, Amsterdam, Le Havre, Algeciras, Bremerhaven and Valencia – the top 20 ports had shares of short sea shipping in total seaborne transport of goods well above 60%. At 123 million tonnes, Rotterdam accounted for 12% of total short sea shipping of liquid bulk declared by the main EU-28 ports in 2012, by far the largest volumes of short sea shipping of liquid bulk goods for any EU port. However, Riga in Latvia overtook Rotterdam to become the largest port for short sea shipping of dry bulk goods in 2012, at 18 million tonnes.
Antwerpen was the largest EU port for short sea shipping of containers in 2012, with a share of 11% of the total for this type of cargo. Unlike dry bulk, the market for ports handling short sea shipping of containers is very concentrated. The top-5 ports accounted for 38% of the total short sea shipping of containers in the main EU-28 ports in 2012.
Overall, however, deep sea shipping of goods in containers has a larger volume in terms of tonnages in the main EU-28 ports than short sea shipping of goods in containers. In contrast, shipping of Ro-Ro units is almost exclusively a short distance activity, with Dover and Calais at each side of the Channel handling the largest tonnages of goods (at 22 million tonnes and 15 million tonnes, respectively).
Short sea shipping of containers
In terms in terms of the number of twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs),movements of containers in short sea shipping in EU-28 ports increased by 2% from 2011 to 2012 (to 28 million TEUs). Bulgaria, Estonia, Greece, Italy, Latvia and Poland all reported growth rates of more than 15% in short sea shipping of TEUs compared with 2011, while the Netherlands and Portugal reported large falls in TEU terms in 2012 (-27% and -17% respectively).
Please note that the increase in number of TEUs observed for Cyprus in 2011 may largely reflect an improvement in data quality (see methodological notes).
Data sources and availability
Short sea shipping (SSS), as covered in this article, deals with the transport of goods between ports in the EU-28 on one hand, and ports situated in geographical Europe, on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea on the other, i.e. ports in EU-28 countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Estonia, Ireland, Greece, Spain, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, Sweden and the United Kingdom), candidate countries (Montenegro, Iceland, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia and Turkey), EEA countries (Iceland and Norway), Baltic (Russia), Mediterranean (Albania, Algeria, Bosnia–Herzegovina, Egypt, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Occupied Palestinian territory, Syria, and Tunisia) and Black Sea (Georgia, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine).
This definition is derived from the Communication of the Commission COM (1999) 317 final of 29.06.1999 on the development of SSS in Europe (page 2). As a result SSS includes "feeder services": a short sea network between ports in order for the freight to be consolidated or redistributed to or from a deep sea service in one of these ports ("hub ports").
The “other seaborne transport” includes “deep sea shipping” and transport with unidentified partner ports (“unknown ports”). According to the definition, SSS includes “feeder services”.
The content of this article is based on data collected within the framework of the EU maritime transport statistics Directive, i.e. 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 results shown are calculated on the basis of dataset A1 (C1 for statistics on containers in volume terms): this means that data refer, in principle, only to main ports (ports handling more than 1 million tonnes of goods annually).
Data are collected at level of statistical ports.
In some countries, the sometimes numerous very small ports are grouped for practical statistical reasons under a notional statistical port ("other ports").
"Gross weight of goods" means the tonnage of goods carried, including packaging but excluding the tare weight of containers or Ro-Ro units.
Ro-Ro units as presented in this article include both "self-propelled roll-on/roll-off units" and "non-self-propelled roll-on/roll-off units".
The following sea regions have been taken into account to group the SSS partner ports: Baltic Sea; North Sea; Atlantic Ocean (including the English Channel and the Irish Sea); Mediterranean Sea; Black Sea.
Ports located in Morocco–West Africa, Egypt–Red Sea, Israel–Red Sea and Russia–Barents and White Seas are not part of SSS.
1. Baltic Sea:
- 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. 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. 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. Mediterranean Sea:
- 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. Black Sea:
- The Black Sea ports excluding the ports on the Bosporus.
- Non-identified ports of Denmark, Germany, Spain, France, the United Kingdom, Israel, Morocco, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and Egypt; river ports of EU countries.
Other seaborne transport includes “deep sea shipping” and transport with unidentified partner ports (“unknown”) – see specific notes for Cyprus and Romania.
EU-28 figures refer to a total of 23 Member States. Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no seaports.
No specific remarks for Belgium (BE), Bulgaria (BG), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Greece (EL), Latvia (LV), Poland (PL), Slovenia (SI), Finland (FI), Sweden (SE), Croatia (HR), Norway (NO) and Turkey (TR).
Detailed data to be used for this publication (datasets A1 and C1) are available for Rosslare starting from 2009. In 2008, this port accounted for approximately 5 % of the total tonnage handled in Irish ports.
Data include Ceuta and Melilla. Only data for the "central government ports" (Puertos del Estado) are reported: data for ports under the control of “regional governments” are missing. As a consequence the share of SSS in total transport may be under-estimated.
Taking into account the definition of SSS, data do not include the French overseas territories (Départements d’Outre Mer/Collectivités d’Outre Mer). Please note that the 2012 figures for France are Eurostat estimates based on partial data for French ports.
In 2005, data collection methods were partly modified. Data for 2009 for some Italian ports have a better coverage than in previous periods, due to a change in data checking and compilation, including the integration of additional results, based also on the use of supplementary sources of information; and to the gradual introduction of a new methodology in data collection. In addition, data for some ports (for ex. Napoli and Brindisi) are under-estimated for the 4th quarter 2008.
The data reported by Cyprus contain a significant share of declarations to and from unknown 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). In 2012, the share is only of 2%. This has several consequences: the volume of SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably underestimated; 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 locations" 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.
No national maritime data reported.
No national maritime data reported.
No national maritime data reported until 2010.
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 lower in previous years (0 % in 2008). This has several consequences: the volume of SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably under estimated, growth rates of SSS between consecutive years may not be reliable.
The data reported by Romania contain a significant share of declarations to and from unknown ports: 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 has several consequences: the volume of SSS and its share in total seaborne transport are probably underestimated, 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 locations" is 51% in 2011 and 2012, 50 % in 2010, 46 % in 2009, 53 % in 2008, 95 % in 2007, 84 % in 2006, 73 % in 2005 and 58 % in 2004.
United Kingdom (UK)
Port installations located on the Tees estuary report as ‘Tees & Hartlepool’. Both are located on the east coast (North Sea) of the United Kingdom. Forth refers to port installations located in the Firth of Forth, close to Edinburgh.
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 transport of goods by sea (between ports), the problem of "double counting" (the transport of the same cargo of goods is declared by both the port of loading – as outwards – and the port of unloading – as inwards) has to be addressed.
Where both the port of loading and the port of unloading provided data, only the incoming goods declared by ports were added together to determine the total transport on the maritime route in question ("elimination of double counting"). The algorithm for the elimination of double counting is applied at statistical port level.
The total SSS per country excludes the double counting of national transport declarations. The total SSS for the EU-28 excludes the double counting of national and international intra-EU transport declarations. The aggregates ("total") per country may therefore differ from the sum of inwards and outwards declarations. The aggregates for the EU-28 may therefore differ from the sum of inwards and outwards declarations and also from the sum of the countries' figures.
For this reason, for example in Table 1, the figures for EU-28 may differ from the sum of the countries' figures. As a consequence, in order to estimate the share of each country in the total EU-28 SSS, the sum of the countries' figures is used as denominator (instead of the figure for the EU-28 aggregate).
Figure 1: The "other seaborne transport" includes the data for which the ports of loading or unloading are unknown. It should be noticed that in 2012 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 4 % for all countries except Romania (6 %), the EU-28 average being 1.5 %.
Table 1: In this table double counting has been treated also at sea region level. Where both the port of origin and the port of destination provided data, and where both ports belong to the same country and the same sea region, only the incoming goods declared by each were added. For this reason the total obtained in Table 1 by adding the figures for sea regions at country level may differ from the "total" shown in the last column (where double counting has been treated 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 1 (instead of the "total" for the EU-28).
Figure 3 and Table 3: "Other cargo" also includes "type of cargo unknown".
Tables 4 to 8: The "other seaborne transport" includes the data for which the ports of loading or unloading are unknown. It should be noted that in 2012 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 5 % for all the mentioned ports. The "Total EU-28 ports" aggregate is simply the sum of inwards and outwards declarations of individual ports (no elimination of double counting), except transport movements within the same statistical port.
Special symbols used in the tables
- ":" Not available
- Mio Million
Some structural changes in data collection implemented in 2006 may have an impact on the comparability of data between 2005 and 2006.
In 2006, data concerning transport to/from Russian ports located on the Barents and White Seas started being collected separately. Transport to/from these ports is not included in the definition of SSS. In 2005 (and previous years), in some cases, these data had probably been included in Russian maritime coastal areas, which are part of the definition of SSS. The impact of this structural change would be an under estimation of the SSS growth rates between 2005 and 2006, that could be roughly estimated as follows: BE 1.3, DE 0.3, NL 3.0, EU-28 0.5 percentage points. This means that, if the assumptions and estimates above are correct, for example, the growth rate for the EU-28 SSS would be about +2.0 % (instead of +1.5 %) between 2005 and 2006.
This structural change has been applied by France only in 2007 and may imply an under estimation of the SSS growth rates between 2006 and 2007, that could be roughly estimated as follows: FR 0.6 and EU-28 0.1 percentage point. This means that, if the assumptions and estimates above are correct, for example the growth rate of SSS between 2006 and 2007 would be about +0.1 % (instead of -0.5 %, as shown in Table 2) for FR and +1.8 % (instead of +1.7 %) for EU-28.
Eurostat is the source of all the figures included in this publication. The figures reflect the data available in Eurostat’s reference database as of April 2014.
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:
- Commission Decision 2010/216/EC of the EP and of the Council of 14 April 2010 OJ L 94 of 15.4.2010 pp. 33-40
- Regulation 1090/2010 of the EP and of the Council of 24 November 2010 OJ L 325 of 09.12.2010 pp. 1-3
- Commission Delegated Decision 2012/186/EU of 3 February 2012 OJ L 101 of 11.4.2012 pp. 5-14.
The following legal acts include respectively the last official version of the list of ports and some dissemination aspects:
- Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea (Recast)
- Commission Decision 2008/861/EC of 29 October 2008 (codified version) (Port list) OJ L 306 of 15.11.2008 pp. 66-97
- Coastal region statistics
- Freight transport statistics
- Maritime ports freight and passenger statistics
- Maritime transport of goods - quarterly data
- Passenger transport statistics
Further Eurostat information
- Transport, see:
- 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 - data aggregated at standard regional levels (NUTS) (mar_rg)
Methodology / Metadata
- Maritime transport (ESMS metadata file - mar_esms)