Maritime transport statistics - short sea shipping of goods
From Statistics Explained
- Data from April 2013. Most recent data: Further Eurostat information, Main tables and Database.
This article presents recent short sea shipping (SSS) statistics of the European Union (EU), covering the transport of goods between ports in the EU-27 on the one hand, and ports situated in geographical Europe, on the Mediterranean and Black Seas on the other hand. Data is also available for Norway, Croatia 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 Further Eurostat information
- 5 See also
Main statistical findings
In 2011, total short sea shipping (SSS) in the EU-27 was above 1.7 billion tonnes of freight. Short sea shipping represented about 60% of EU-27 maritime transport of goods, slightly less than in 2010 (62%). However, the share of short sea shipping in total maritime transport varied widely from one country to another.
The preponderance of short sea shipping of goods over the other seaborne transport (deep sea shipping) was particularly pronounced (more than 80 %) in Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Greece, Latvia, Malta, Poland, Finland and Sweden, as well as in the acceding state of Croatia. Geographical considerations may partly explain this predominance of short sea shipping. 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, Estonia, the Netherlands, Portugal and Slovenia).
Short sea shipping volumes in the main ports of the United Kingdom (UK) came to 320 million tonnes of cargo in 2011, accounting for almost 15% of total short sea shipping in the EU-27 countries. The UK was followed by Italy and the Netherlands, with 14% and 10% of the EU-27 total, respectively.
Short sea shipping of goods between main EU-27 ports and ports located in the Mediterranean was 546 million tonnes in 2011. This accounts for about 28% of the total short sea shipping tonnages declared by the main EU-27 ports. Short sea shipping with the North Sea and the Baltic Sea followed, with 525 and 420 million tonnes, respectively (27% 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. One exception was Latvia, where about half of the short sea shipping of goods came from or was destined for ports located in the North Sea. Romania was another exception, with the Mediterranean region taking the largest share.
The total short sea shipping of goods in the main EU-27 ports declined by 1.2% from 2010 to 2011, following the recovery in European short sea shipping between 2009 and 2010. As a consequence, the 2011 level of European short sea shipping was still lower than the level recorded 6 years earlier (in 2005).
The Netherlands recorded the largest fall in short sea shipping of goods in 2011 (-20%), followed by Malta and the acceding state of Croatia (both -15%). Please note that the substantial increase observed in the short sea shipping tonnages for Cyprus in 2011 (+68%) may largely reflect an improvement in data quality (see methodological notes).
Transport by type of cargo
At 802 million tonnes, liquid bulk accounted for 46% of the total short sea shipping of goods to and from the EU-27 in 2011, followed by dry bulk at 348 million tonnes (20%). 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).
In terms of short sea shipping of liquid bulk, Italy had the largest share in 2011 (149 million tonnes), followed by the UK (138 million tonnes) and the Netherlands (127 million tonnes). The UK had by far the largest short sea shipping of Ro-Ro units in 2011 (86 million tonnes). The UK also led the EU-27 ranking for short sea shipping of dry bulk goods, with 59 million tonnes. Germany with 46 million tonnes overtook Belgium at 43 million tonnes in short sea shipping of goods in containers in 2011.
As in previous years, liquid bulk remained the largest cargo type in all sea regions in 2011, particularly in the Black Sea where liquid bulk goods accounted for two thirds of total short sea shipping of goods. The share of dry bulk goods varied the least between the sea regions, ranging from 15% in the Mediterranean to 23% in both the North Sea and the Baltic Sea. The Mediterranean had the largest share of short sea shipping of goods in containers in 2011 with 19%. For Ro-Ro units, the Atlantic Ocean (where both the two main Ro-Ro ports in the EU-27 are located) accounted for 21% of the total.
Top EU-27 ports
The top-20 ports accounted for 35% of the total short sea shipping of goods in the EU-27 in 2011. Rotterdam in the Netherlands remained the largest EU-27 port by far, with a total of 162 million shipped in 2011. The top 5 ports were unchanged with Antwerpen in Belgium handling the second largest tonnages of short sea shipping in 2011 (86 million tonnes), followed by Marseille handling 58 million tonnes, Hamburg handling 45 million tonnes and Immingham 42 million tonnes.
Except for the main deep sea hub ports – Rotterdam, Antwerpen, Hamburg, Amsterdam and Algeciras – the top 20 ports had shares of short sea shipping in total seaborne transport of goods well above 50%.
At 101 million tonnes, Rotterdam accounted for some 10% of total short sea shipping of liquid bulk declared by main EU-27 ports in 2011 and is by far the main EU-27 port for short sea shipping of liquid bulk goods. However, Riga overtook Rotterdam to become the largest port for short sea shipping of dry bulk in 2011 (at 16 million tonnes). With a top-5 ports share of 13 %, dry bulk was the least "concentrated" of the short sea shipping market segments.
Antwerpen accounted for 12% of total short sea shipping of goods in containers and remained the largest EU-27 port (at 40 million tonnes). Unlike dry bulk, the market for ports handling short sea shipping of containers is very concentrated. The top-5 ports accounted for 40% of the total container handling in the EU-27 ports in 2011 for short sea shipping. Overall, the deep sea container business handles larger tonnages of goods than the corresponding movement of containers in EU-27 ports in short sea shipping.
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 transported in Ro-Ro units (at 24 million tonnes and 18 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-27 ports increased by 15% from 2010 to 2011 (to 28 million TEUs).
Germany, Estonia, Greece, Lithuania, Poland and Portugal all reported growth rates of more than 20% in short sea shipping of TEUs compared with 2010, while Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Ireland, Italy and Finland were the only countries reporting decreases in TEU terms in 2011.
Please note that the substantial 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-27 on one hand, and ports situated in geographical Europe, on the Mediterranean and the Black Sea on the other, i.e. ports in EU-27 countries (Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom), the acceding state Croatia, 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-27 figures refer to a total of 22 Member States. Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary, Austria and Slovakia have no seaports.
No specific remarks for Bulgaria (BG), Denmark (DK), Germany (DE), Estonia (EE), Greece (EL), Slovenia (SI), Finland (FI), Sweden (SE), Croatia (HR), Norway (NO) and Turkey (TR).
Data provided by Antwerpen on number of containers were under-estimated until the 2nd quarter of 2004. As a consequence the Belgium data on volume of containers (Table 9) are also under-estimated until the 2nd quarter of 2004. According to the methodology, data for the port of Antwerpen include only the Lo-Lo (Lift-on/Lift-off) containers and exclude containers on Ro-Ro units.
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).
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: 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. 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.
No detailed data reported on partner ports for 2002 and 2003.
No national maritime data reported.
No national maritime data reported.
No national maritime data reported until 2010.
Poland did not report detailed data on partner ports for 2003 and the first two quarters of 2004: the volume of Polish SSS for 2004 is thus under-estimated by about 50 % and the 2004–2005 growth rate is over estimated.
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 and 2011, 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, 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-27 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-27 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-27 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-27 SSS, the sum of the countries' figures is used as denominator (instead of the figure for the EU-27 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 2010 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 4 % for all countries except Cyprus (58 %) and Romania (6 %), the EU-27 average being 1.4 % (it was 1.9 % in 2009).
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-27 level as shown in Table 1 (instead of the "total" for the EU-27).
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 2011 the share of unknown partner ports in the total seaborne transport is less than 2 % for all the mentioned ports. The "Total EU-27 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-27 0.5 percentage points. This means that, if the assumptions and estimates above are correct, for example, the growth rate for the EU-27 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-27 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 +1.6 % (instead of +1.5 %) for EU-27.
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 March 2012.
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
Further Eurostat information
- All transport publications on line
- Continued recovery in volume of goods handled in EU ports - Statistics in focus 7/2013
- 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)
Source data for tables, figures and maps on this page (MS Excel)
- Commission Decision 2008/861/EC of 29 October 2008 on rules for implementing Council Directive 95/64/EC (notified under document number C(2008) 6203) (Codified version)
- Commission Decision 2010/216/EC of 14 April amending Directive 2009/42/EC
- Directive 2009/42/EC of 6 May 2009 on statistical returns in respect of carriage of goods and passengers by sea (Recast)
- Illustrated Glossary for Transport Statistics - 4th edition
- Regulation 1090/2010 of 24 November 2010 amending Directive 2009/42/EC
- Commission Delegated Decision 2012/186/EU of 3 February 2012 amending Directive 2009/42/EC