(Detailed PDF map)
Container Traffic Handled at the Main Ports Around the Strait of Gibraltar
The Strait of Gibraltar is a natural bottleneck at the junction of Mediterranean, North Atlantic and West African shipping routes. The growth of the Europe / Asia trade has led to the increasing use of the strait for transshipment. Most of this transshipment takes the form of a dual competition between the established hub of Algeciras (on the Spanish side of the strait) and the new hub of Tanger Med (on the Moroccan side). When it opened in the late 2000s, Tanger Med saw the relocation of some of the transshipment activities taking place in Algeciras, but both hubs resumed their growth afterwards, a trend that appears to be leveling off. Both are pure transshipment hubs since more than 90% of their volume concerns transshipment cargoes that do not leave the port. Valencia has also been an active transshipment hub in spite of involving a higher level of deviation from the main shipping lanes since it provides hinterland cargoes as well. The port of Sines in Portugal is also vying for a share of the transshipment business and recently overtook Las Palmas that has been a transshipment hub focusing on the West African trade, a role that has been eroded by Tanger Med.