July 29, 2003
Bills introduced by Rep. Case in the House of Representatives on July 24, says the MCTF, would provide Jones Act exemptions for (1) all non-contiguous U.S. trades, including Hawaii; (2) Hawaii alone; and (3) Hawaii agriculture and livestock. In announcing its vigorous opposition to efforts to weaken or repeal the Jones Act, MCTF noted that the highly-competitive trade to Hawaii and other non-contiguous destinations will be further enhanced in the next year or so by the addition of new, State-of-the-Art containerships and auto carriers.
The Jones Act and related cabotage laws form the cornerstone of U.S. maritime policy. The MCTF says "the pacesetting Jones Act fleet supports the nation's military and economic soundness. So efficient is the fleet that it moves 24 percent of the country's domestic cargo for less than 2 percent of the nation's freight bill. The national security importance of the Jones Act fleet was demonstrated most recently during Operation Iraqi Freedom, as domestic vessels, crewed by American seafarers, provided support for U.S. troops engaged in the conflict."
The Maritime Cabotage Task Force, founded in 1995, is the most broad-based coalition the maritime industry has ever assembled. Its 400-plus members span the United States and represent ship and barge owners and operators, labor groups, shipbuilders and repair yards, marine equipment manufacturers and vendors, trade associations, pro-defense groups and companies in other modes of domestic transportation. The widespread but allied interests have come together for one purpose--to promote U.S. maritime cabotage laws. Nationwide, 37,000-plus vessels compete in the various Jones Act trades and annually carry more than 1 billion tons of cargo and 100 million passengers. The Jones Act fleet generates nearly 125,000 jobs, 80,000 of which are aboard vessels.