The Merchant Marine Act of 1920, which is also known as the Jones Act, turned 100 years old this year. It prescribes certain requirements that vessels must meet to be allowed to carry passengers and goods from one U.S. port to the next. There are many pros and cons associated with the Jones Act for both seamen as well as operators.
Pieces of legislation such as the Jones Act are considered to be a type of cabotage law. This means that it covers the transportation of both passengers or goods between two different ports located within a single country. These efforts are usually carried out by freight transportation operators from other countries.
Most every country has cabotage laws in place. According to American Shipper, there are only four that don’t. Those countries are Belize, Gambia, Dominica and Guatemala.
The Jones Act makes it where vessels carrying people or products from one U.S. port to another must be registered in the U.S. Owners of this mode of transport must also utilize a boat that was either originally built or rebuilt in this country. It must also be at least 75% U.S. owned and crewed.
Many naysayers argue that the Jones Act restricts U.S. economic growth. They point out that transporting goods on U.S.-built ships is as much as three times more expensive than doing the same on foreign-flagged ones. They note that this results in customers having to pay higher prices than they should for products that they purchase at stores.
Jones Act supporters argue that this legislation creates and protects jobs for Americans. They also point out that it enhances U.S. national security by restricting the ships that can dock at American ports.
There are many employment and national security benefits that are associated with the Jones Act. Many people who work for employers or in roles covered by this legislation enjoy certain benefits if they’re hurt on the job. An attorney can advise you how you may be eligible for medical care and compensation if you’ve been injured at sea off the coast of Manhattan or in any of New York’s navigable waters.