Forbes Challenges The Biden Administration To Act Now On Maritime Appointments

John Konrad
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November 17, 2020

by John Konrad (gCaptain) In August 2017 President Trump swore in Rear Adm. Mark H. Buzby as MARAD Administrator, the top civilian maritime position in the United States. In the three and a half years since Buzby has strengthened and revitalized the US Merchant Marine Academy, has funded new training ships for the state maritime academies, and has advocated for and tested national sealift capacity. Buzby is well-liked by most in the industry but, with Biden’s recent victory, his legacy is in the hands of the next administration.

RELATED BOOK: Soul of the Sea in the Age of the Algorithm by Nishan Degnarain.

The question is who will fill his shoes? As the industry holds its breath in anticipation of Buzby’s successor, many are fearful of what happened during the Obama Administration where an official full time appointment was not made for over 4 years resulting in the delay of many new policies and some highly unfortunate events like the closing of GMATS at USMMA.

While I have been critical of MARAD during both the Obama and  Trump administrations, we do believe that both Democrats and Republicans in the maritime space can benefit from the eventual progress made by both sides including solidifying support of union labor and joining forces with the FMC and other agencies to bring jobs not only to blue state cities but also to rivers of the red state heartland. We also see great potential in that job provided that Biden makes it a priority to appoint a strong leader who will advance not only new democratic initiatives but will continue Buzby’s legacy of strong support for maritime education.

And we are not alone. In a series of articles, Forbes has highlighted the need for strong and effective MARAD appointments.

“The Biden-Harris team has a long task list ahead of them when they take the reigns in January,” says Nishan Degnarain, a Harvard trained economist and Chair of WEF’s Global Agenda Council on the Ocean -helping set the agenda for world leaders at Davos on what issues to discuss on the ocean each year – in his column at Forbes. “The position of MARAD has historically been overlooked, but may prove to be a critical appointment in order for the Biden-Harris team to succeed with their climate change plans.”

RELATED BOOK: Soul of the Sea in the Age of the Algorithm by Nishan Degnarain.

According to Degnarain, to meet future climate and economic goals the administration will require out-of-the-box thinking starting with the reactivation of a long-forgotten transport network that is a vital part of the solution.

For more details on why this appointment is important and what can be done by a strong Maritime Administration please read the following articles by Degnarain in full as they are important to both United States and Global maritime interests:

Biden’s Shipping Agency Nominee Could Prove Crucial To U.S. Climate Change Plans

America’s Forgotten Marine Highway Network That Could Green Global Freight Transport

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