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Québec’s marine transport and port industry comprises 262 establishments involved in merchandise shipping and receiving or passenger transportation and service. In 2009, 110 million tonnes of cargo, 116,300 cruise ship passengers and more than 5.6 million ferry passengers used the industry’s services.

Marine industry players include:

Ship owners and operators

Primarily, ship owners and operators provide cargo transport services although some specialize in services such as dredging and towing. Ship owners and operators specializing on cargo transport use different types of vessels: bulkers>, self-unloaders, multipurpose vessels, barges, etc. Many offer bulk transportation of natural resources to supply industries with raw materials from various regions. Others carry general cargo, containerized or not (breakbulk), and serve outlying communities. For more information on the different types of vessels, click here.


Many ship owners and operators also provide ferry services, which are very important for Québec since they take passengers and freight from one bank to another. In addition to the Société des traversiers du Québec-the largest organization offering this type of service on the St. Lawrence-a number of private ship owners and operators offer ferry services.

Tour boats

The tour boat category groups together carriers offering excursion services lasting from a few hours to several days. Admiring landscapes and observing natural resources on the St. Lawrence constitute tour boats’ main activities. In Québec, some 80 companies offer tour boat excursion services.


Ports group together all of the infrastructures and facilities required to receive ships. Québec has some 20 commercial ports where more than 100,000 tons of merchandise are transhipped every year. The biggest--Montréal, Québec City and Sept-Îles—handle up 30 million tons annually.

Stevedores and terminals

Stevedores and terminals, the land-sea transport link, are responsible for loading and unloading ships and storing cargo in the port. Stevedores lease and/or own handling facilities and equipment in the port. They are the ones who hire dock workers (materials handling personnel).

Marine services

Marine services include shipping agencies, ship brokers, fuel and lubricant distributors, equipment repair and supply companies, insurance, inspection and standard-compliance services, towing, dredging and pilot services.

Support services

Various organizations offer their services to support the industry-government agencies, port service establishments, marine services establishments and associations. Each of these organizations has a very specific mandate, such as human resources development, training, pilotage, ice-breaking, search and rescue, navigation aids, etc.

For more information on these organizations, see the Useful links section

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