The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA), which represents more than 140 companies, including about 60 firms that own and operate marine service vessels, has launched Jones Act Enforcer, which it will use to gather video and photographic evidence of Jones Act violations. The organisation will submit this evidence to authorities and the media.
OMSA claims that US Customs and Border Protection officials are not properly enforcing the Jones Act, instead approving “dozens of loophole requests from foreign vessel owners,” which those owners and others repeatedly exploit. The association cites offshore energy projects, in particular, as a problem, where “far too many loopholes” are allowing foreign vessels to operate. It says foreign-flag vessels can utilise “their significantly lower crewing costs” in transporting merchandise between points in the US, undercutting American vessels and workers.
“The Jones Act is very simple,” said Aaron Smith, OMSA President and CEO. “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. 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 US mariners’ pockets. If foreign vessel owners or the companies they work for don’t like this scrutiny, I suggest they hire US-owned, US-crewed, and US-built vessels.”
The Jones Act Enforcer will collect evidence using aerial and surface surveillance equipment.