PALMETTO — Port Manatee set several cargo records in the first six months of the fiscal year.

The Palmetto-based port said Tuesday that first-half highs were set for total tonnage and in several cargo sectors.

In the six months ending March 31, the port's short tons rose 18.2 percent to 4,495,733; containerized cargo, as measured by 20-foot-equivalents units, increased 12.6 percent to 18,894; and containerized cargo tons grew 12.2 percent to 192,679.

Also, dry bulk cargo tons were up 54.6 percent to 924,675; breakbulk cargo tons were up 24.2 percent to 311,940; and liquid bulk cargo tons were up 10.2 percent to 3,066,462.

Port executive director Carlos Buqueras attributed the containerized cargo growth to expansion of World Direct Shipping’s Mexico services and Del Monte Fresh Produce's ongoing transition to containers from breakbulk, or non-container, shipping.

The dry bulk increase was due to strong volumes of such commodities as phosphate rock, granite and sulphur, Buqueras said. Higher forest-product volumes helped propel breakbulk gains, and increases in handling of gasoline, bunker fuels and citrus concentrates were key factors in the rise in liquid bulk cargo.

“The diverse growth strategy we are advancing at Port Manatee is facilitating burgeoning commerce on all fronts,” Buqueras said. “All signs point to Port Manatee’s achievement of a number of full-year records for fiscal 2018, which ends Sept. 30.”

The port is the closest U.S. deepwater seaport to the expanded Panama Canal, with 10 40-foot-draft berths serving container, bulk, breakbulk, heavylift, project and general cargo customers. The port says it generates more than $2.3 billion in annual economic impact and supports 24,000 jobs.