There are many laws that dictate what can and cannot be done on U.S. waterways, including in New York. Some of them are looked upon favorably while others may be seen as hindering trade and business. The Merchant Marine Act of 1920 or the Jones Act is one such law that some people see as being good and others see as being an issue. Issues were really brought to light after the hurricanes hit Puerto Rico.
According to NBC News, the Jones Act says that domestic trade is restricted to only vessels flying under the U.S. flag. Ships have to built in the U.S. and have citizens sailing and owning them. The main issue was the cost of using only U.S. ships to provide supplies to the island during the recovery period. People opposing the law said it was raising costs and slowing down efforts.
Those who support the act say that it helps secure American jobs and ensure national security. It helps limit foreign ships, which makes it easier to secure water borders of the country.
However, during the recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, the island needed a lot of supplies. They needed a lot of help. Restricting the vessels to U.S. only was slowing things down and making is more difficult for the island to get what it needed. As a solution, President Trump suspended the Jones Act requirements for ten days to allow for foreign aid to the island. This information is for education purposes and is not intended as legal advice.