PALMETTO, Florida – SeaPort Manatee cargo activity in the just-ended fiscal year remained strong, sustaining levels at or near record volumes posted in fiscal 2022, according to figures released by the Southwest and Central Florida maritime trade hub.
“At a time when some seaports are failing to keep pace with the unprecedented cargo boom that followed the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, activity at SeaPort Manatee is continuing to flourish,” said James Satcher, chairman of the Manatee County Port Authority.
For the 12-month period ended Sept. 30, SeaPort Manatee reported total cargo tonnage of 11,017,670 tons, making it the second-busiest fiscal year in the Manatee County port’s 53-year history.
“While numerous U.S. ports are experiencing significant downturns of as much as 20 percent or more in tonnage compared with fiscal 2022 volumes, SeaPort Manatee is staying the course, maintaining its role as a preferred gateway for a broad range of key commodities,” said Carlos Buqueras, SeaPort Manatee’s executive director. “In fact, new cargos for the port, such as imports of yachts, plus gains in traditional construction-related goods, are propelling an overall increase in noncontainerized tonnage moving across our docks.”
Imports of Aquila power catamaran yachts for Clearwater, Florida-based MarineMax Inc., the world’s largest recreational boat and yacht retailer, totaled 237,122 tons in fiscal 2023, up from 1,548 tons in fiscal 2022, making yachts the year’s biggest gainer among SeaPort Manatee commodities. The value of the fiscal 2023 yacht shipments totaled $73 million.
Other noncontainerized goods enjoying substantial advances at SeaPort Manatee in the past year include phosphate rock, fly ash and construction aggregate, while an 11 percent increase in moves of fruits and vegetables helped keep the port’s containerized cargo tonnage similar to that in the preceding record fiscal year at 1,341,149 tons. Measured in 20-foot-equivalent container units, SeaPort Manatee’s containerized cargo throughput of 167,385 TEUs remained nearly double the port’s fiscal 2020 TEU count.
SeaPort Manatee’s breakbulk cargo sector saw the largest increase in fiscal 2023, up 26.7 percent, to 1,023,307 tons, while dry bulk activity rose 14.2 percent, to 2,558,515 tons.
Located “Where Tampa Bay Meets the Gulf of Mexico,” SeaPort Manatee is a dynamic global trade hub, serving as the vibrant ships-to-shelves gateway for burgeoning Southwest and Central Florida markets, with convenient rail and roadway links, including to the distribution-center-filled Tampa/Orlando Interstate 4 corridor. The closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, SeaPort Manatee offers 10 deep-draft berths, proficiently fulfilling diverse demands of container, liquid and dry bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The self-sustaining port generates more than $5.1 billion in annual economic impacts while providing for more than 37,000 direct and indirect jobs – all without benefit of local property tax support.