Sick and tired of foreign vessels taking advantage of loopholes in the Jones Act, the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) says it is taking the unprecedented step of launching a vessel tasked with documenting and reporting Jones Act rule breakers.
The Jones Act serves as the bedrock of American maritime policy with broad support in Washington, and requires that seaborne cargo shipped between two U.S. points is carried on U.S.-built, crewed and owned vessels. But over the years, OMSA says various rulings by the Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for Jones Act enforcement, have created “dozens” of loopholes that have allowed foreign-flagged vessels to participate in offshore energy projects in U.S. waters.
According to OMSA, these loopholes have opened the gates for foreign-flag vessel operators to “repeatedly” exploit the rules to the detriment of American mariners and national security.
“The Act is not being implemented in a manner that is correct under the law and as a result, American security is being threatened and American workers are losing jobs to foreign vessels,” said Aaron Smith, OMSA President and CEO. “It’s time that someone takes a stand and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
OMSA and over 140 of its member companies have decided to take action with the launch of the JONES ACT ENFORCER, a first-of-its-kind vessel that will be used to gather video and photographic evidence of Jones Act violations to be submitted to the authorities and shared with media.
“The Jones Act is very simple, if a foreign vessel picks up cargo at one point in the United States, and takes it to another point, it has broken the law,” Smith said. “Foreign vessels have succeeded in confusing this issue for a long time. Now, we’re going to shine a bright spotlight on their actions and show everyone just how many foreign mariners are taking money out of U.S. mariners’ pockets. If foreign vessel owners or the companies they work for don’t like this scrutiny, I suggest they hire U.S. owned, U.S. crewed, and U.S. built vessels.”
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