Panama, May 23, 2001. Panamax vessel traffic continues its upward trend at the Panama Canal, with 2,687 transits by Panamax vessels registered in the first seven months of fiscal year 2001 (October 2000 to April 2001), representing 36.2 percent of total oceangoing transits.

According to Panama Canal Administrator Alberto Aleman Zubieta, who released the figures during a Panama Canal Authority (ACP) Board of Directors meeting Tuesday, cargo tonnage rose to 116.1 million long tons, a 2.6 percent increase over the 113.1 million long tons recorded during the same period in fiscal year 2000. Major commodities contributing to the increase included petroleum products and containerized cargo, both of which have displayed sustained growth, as well as grains, ores and metals, refrigerated foods, fertilizers and machinery and equipment.

Regarding the Canal’s ongoing improvement program, Aleman Zubieta reported that the Culebra Cut widening project remains on track and is scheduled for completion by December 2001. He also emphasized the growing importance of Canal watershed conservation plans, with the welfare of watershed residents being a core objective. Watershed community members and leaders have participated in a series of meetings and seminars to discuss ACP watershed programs. Aleman Zubieta explained that this ongoing dialogue will continue in an effort to keep community members informed.

The ACP Board of Directors is chaired by Ricardo Martinelli, who is also Minister for Canal Affairs, and consists of the following members: Adolfo Ahumada, Luis Anderson, Roberto Roy, Alfredo Ramirez, Jr., Moises Mizrachi, Raul Montenegro Vallarino, Emanuel Gonzalez-Revilla, Samuel Lewis Navarro, Abel Rodriguez and Eloy Alfaro.