CLAYTON, N.Y. -- A ship on its way to pick up a load of grain will be the first to pass through the St. Lawrence Seaway this year.

The seaway opened for it's 59th season Monday.

It's coming off one of it's slowest cargo seasons in a decade. There is an expectation that it will improve, but by how much is the question.

Seaway officials, however. say last year was one of its safest. While that may be good news for the economy, environmentalists worry that the season opens too soon and despite ice not being an issue this year, it's still a concern.

"Ice breaking, particularly down near the dams near the Mohawk territories, can be very damaging because the shore is so close and they're scowering the bottoms. I guess nature has given the seaway better conditions to open in," said Lee Willbanks, executive director of Save the River.

The Seaway administration says that last year, the system supported 227,000 jobs in the U.S. and Canada and pumped $35 billion into the economy.