Erin Krall / WWNO

The Port of New Orleans says workers are preparing for Tropical Storm Karen, but cargo operations are continuing uninterrupted, despite the closure of Southwest Pass at the mouth of the Mississippi River.

However, Carnival Cruise Line ships scheduled to arrive at the port this weekend may be delayed until Monday, the port and the cruise company are saying. Guests aboard the Carnival Elation and the Carnival Conquest are being kept apprised of the storm, and both vessels are said to be sailing a safe distance from the storm.

Traffic at the mouth of the Mississippi stopped Friday as coastal Louisiana prepares for a possible strike by Tropical Storm Karen, which is churning in the Gulf of Mexico.

Karen is forecast to hit the northern Gulf Coast over the weekend as a weak hurricane or tropical storm. A hurricane watch was in effect from Grand Isle to west of Destin, Fla. A tropical storm warning was issued from Grand Isle to the mouth of the Pearl River, including the New Orleans area.

The Port of South Louisiana and the National Port Authority of Haiti have signed a cooperative endeavor agreement, the first with a Caribbean nation for the Louisiana port.

The Haitian port hopes to take advantage of its location near the expanding Panama Canal to gain more shipping business.

The two ports will cooperate on sharing trade practices and developing business relationships.

The Haitian port authority is under the supervision of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

Erin Krall / WWNO

The president of the Port of New Orleans says in the annual State of the Port address that business has been good this year. Officials expect that good news to continue.

The U.S. Department of Commerce has awarded a $1 million grant to the Port of Greater Baton Rouge to rebuild a rail line at the marine terminal which was damaged by Mississippi River flooding in spring 2011.

The Advocate reports the money was part of a $200 million appropriation Congress made to help communities that received a major disaster designation in fiscal 2011.

Capt. James "Jimmy" Cramond has been elected president of the Crescent River Port Pilots' Association.

Cramond is Coast Guard-licensed as a master of steam or motor vessels for inland waters. He replaces Capt. Allen J. Gibbs, who served as president for the past 11 years.

Named to the board of directors were Capt. E. Michael Bopp, vice president; Capt. Eric Short, secretary; Capt. Craig Clasen, director; and Capt. Richard Ducros II, director.

A German shipping company has added the Port of New Orleans to a weekly service connecting the city with several Latin American countries.

The port said Thursday that Hamburg Sud will provide the container service through a space charter agreement with Hapag-Lloyd.

The new service will connect New Orleans to ports in the Dominican Republic, Argentina, Uruguay, Mexico and Brazil.

Port president and CEO Gary LaGrange said in a statement that the new service gives customers better access and more frequent service to Latin American markets.

Erin Krall / WWNO

Low water levels in the upper Mississippi River have not affected operations so far at the Port of New Orleans. Port officials say no traffic restrictions are expected.

An 11-mile stretch of the Mississippi River was closed today because of low waters levels.

The AP reports:

"Coast Guard spokesman Ryan Tippets told The Associated Press on Monday that the stretch of river near Greenville, Miss., has been closed intermittently since Aug. 11, when a vessel ran aground.

Authorities say there are no signs of shoreline or wildlife being affected by the discharge of fuel oil from a tanker on the Mississippi River.

The Coast Guard said the discharge from a ballast pipe on the tanker Overseas Beryl was reported shortly after 10 p.m. Monday and it was plugged around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Cleanup has begun at the site downriver from New Orleans. The amount of fuel oil spilled remained unclear at midmorning.