Poole is an established port ranked fourteenth in terms of national trade, and has grown continuously during the last twenty years. over that time the total cargo handled has more than doubled to the current level of 2.3 million tonnes per annum. Ferry services were first set up in 1973 and the Cross Channel and Channel islands trades now carry 850,000 passengers per year. The port imports a significant amount of steel, amounting to over half of the total cargo handled, with rail distribution to U.K. steel stockholders and customers. The other imports are timber, bricks, fertilizer, grain, aggregates and palletised cargo, while the exports are clay, sand, grain and scrap metal and steel. The main constraint to port activity remains the limited draft of six metres, as well as the narrow harbour mouth and the distance from the harbour mouth to the quays.
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