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Panama Canal imposes depth restrictions amid droughts

Posted on April 24, 2023

The Panama Canal Authority (PCA) has enforced lower draft restrictions on the largest ships voyaging across the trade route.

The restrictions were introduced on 19 April.

The new measures are due to recent drought conditions that have led to falling water levels at nearby lakes that form part of the waterway, the canal authority said.

The circumstances have thus prompted the fifth adjustment of its kind since the start of the year as reported by Reuters.

The restrictions necessitate that neo-Panamax containerships comply with a maximum depth of 47.5 feet, down from 50 feet, in order to cross the canal connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

This therefore requires vessels to weigh less or otherwise handle less goods onboard.

The interim measure was outlined by officials without a deadline, but they expressed optimism that it might “be lifted as soon as possible” once the Central American rainy season starts.

Last month, the PCA forecasted a decline in cargo volume for the 2023 fiscal year due to a combination of geopolitical tensions and changes in shipping routes.


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