The Jones Act is the best known of the nation’s cabotage laws. By calling for movements of water-borne cargoes between U.S. ports by vessels that are American-crewed, -built and –owned, it has enhanced important U.S. security interests and generated many economic benefits.
As numerous defense experts have noted, the Jones Act has helped maintain a pool of skilled civilian mariners capable of meeting the nation’s strategic sealift needs. By generating 76 percent of all commercial U.S. shipbuilding opportunities, it has preserved a viable domestic shipbuilding base. Moreover, some 70 percent of the ocean-going self-propelled vessels in the Jones Act fleet are militarily useful.
There are more than 42,000 vessels in the Jones Act fleet, from tugs and barges to tankers and containerships. This represents an investment of nearly $30 billion. The vessels move more than 1 billion tons of cargo annually and create 123,000 jobs directly and another 200,000 jobs throughout the U.S. economy. The total annual economic impact of the Jones Act is $63 billion. Annual taxes generated by the Jones Act fleet top $11.5 billion.
The Jones Act has enhanced safety in the maritime industry and made an important contribution to the environment. According to recent studies, productivity levels in the Jones Act fleet are two to three times higher than the average U.S. business rate.
Preserving the integrity of the Jones Act is a priority for the MTD. Over the past 10 years, it has been part of the Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF), a nationwide association of grass roots organizations dedicated to educating the public about the importance of this law (for more information, contact http://www.mctf.com/).