The national trade association that is the voice for the U.S. flag workboat industry has taken the unusual step of hiring an experienced investigator to collect evidence on foreign vessels that violate the U.S. law known as the Jones Act.
The Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) has created a new position – Manager of Jones Act Compliance – to ensure compliance with the laws requiring that vessels involved in domestic transportation be owned by Americans, crewed by Americans and built in America. The newly hired individual will actively track the activities of foreign vessels working in the offshore oil and gas industry, determine whether those vessels are cheating on the Jones Act and work with enforcement agencies to punish violators. Joe Kavanaugh will serve in this position.
This initiative by OMSA comes as America is exploring new areas for offshore energy. For OMSA, this is the next step in a multi-year effort to make sure that foreign entities, customers and Federal officials within Coast Guard, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the Department of Homeland Security understand that the Jones Act is vital to national security and to the economic well-being of coastal areas and U.S. maritime companies.
“While a number of associations have launched similar initiatives to enforce copyright and product piracy laws, this is the first time that we are aware of a maritime group taking this step to ensure enforcement of the Jones Act, still a critically important maritime law,” said Ken Wells, OMSA President. “Creating this position sends a strong signal that our country will not allow new offshore energy exploration jobs to go to foreign entities illegally,” he continued.
Kavanaugh has many years of experience enforcing Coast Guard and Customs regulations, working for the U.S. Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and others. He has been actively involved in investigating smuggling, immigration and drug cases, as well as maritime law violations. He has also worked as a vessel captain, which will help him to work with the maritime industry to identify and investigate Jones Act violations and then collect the necessary evidence to make cases against violators.