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The International Transport Workers’ Federation”s ( ITF) Cabotage Taskforce, which is headed by MTD Executive Board Member Jim Given, applauded the U.S. Justice Department’s announcement that Furie Operating Alaska LLC has agreed to pay $10 million “to satisfy a civil penalty originally assessed against it by U.S. Customs and Border Protection for violating the Jones Act,” America’s freight cabotage law.

As reported by the Justice Department, the company was penalized for transporting a jack-up drill rig from the Gulf of Mexico to Alaska in 2011 using a foreign-flag vessel without acquiring a Jones Act waiver.

This is believed to be the largest Jones Act penalty in the nearly century-long existence of the law. While the ITF taskforce’s preference is for proper adherence to individual nations’ respective cabotage laws, it is critical that when regulations are violated, those breaking the rules are held accountable.

In announcing the penalty, the department noted, “Resolution of this case demonstrates that the Jones Act will be actively enforced and that an intentional violation will not be rewarded.”

The Cabotage Taskforce endorsed that approach and thanked both the Justice Department and the Customs and Border Protection for standing up for the Jones Act. Taskforce Chair Given noted, “This is a really momentous decision. The size of the fine, the decisiveness and resolution of the decision and commitment to future action are the strongest possible markers of the importance and value of the Jones Act.”

Given himself, as president of the Seafarers Union of Canada, is involved in a prolong struggle with his country regarding Canadian mariner cabotage rights. The SIU of Canada recently won a decision regarding the improper issuance by the Canadian authorities of foreign worker permits.

David Heindel, chair of the ITF seafarers’ section and secretary-treasurer of the MTD-affiliated Seafarers International Union, added, “Once again the Jones Act has been rightly used to defend safe and lawful maritime operations in American waters. This is the right decision at the right time.”