Panama Canal to restrict access to ships after El Nino drought

The canal is a leading trade route which links the Pacific Ocean with the Atlantic Ocean

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Panama Canal is to restrict the number of large ships which it allows to pass through, because of drought caused by El Nino.

Scientists have warned about the potentially devastating effects of El Nino; a phenomenon which sees above-normal temperatures in the Pacific Ocean cause extreme weather around the world. Both droughts and flash flooding are amongst the most dangerous consequences.

Speaking yesterday, canal authorities said that the decision to restrict large ships had been made as a result of El Nino-related droughts. Beginning on 8 September, the greatest draft permitted will be 39 feet, 11.89m, down from the current level of 39.5 feet, 12.04m.

It is thought that the change could affect around a fifth of ships using the route.

The Panama Canal Authority warned that if the droughts persist, they may have to reduce the draft size further to 38.5 feet, 11.7m, from 16 September.

For each ship that goes through the canal, about 52m gallons of water are required; equivalent to about 82 Olympic sized swimming pools. The Panama is one of the world’s main trade routes and connects the Atlantic Ocean with the Pacific Ocean.

With additional reporting by Reuters