In a July 6 notice to the trade community, the agency said the Jones Act Division of Enforcement (JADE) will help provide a uniform approach to ensure that only coast-wise qualified vessels are transporting merchandise and passengers between domestic ports.
The 1920 Jones Act requires that any cargo moving between two points in the United States by water is carried on American-built, American-crewed and American-owned vessels.
The domestic shipping industry argues that the law is necessary to maintain a viable merchant marine and a domestic shipbuilding industry, which is important economically and for the U.S. military.
Opponents argue the law is protectionist and drives up the cost of commodities because American vessels are much more expensive to own and operate.
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