Late in July the Maritime Cabotage Task Force (MCTF) came out strongly
opposed to efforts by Hawaii Representative Ed Case (D-2nd) to repeal
the Jones Act. According to MCTF, bills introduced
by Rep. Case in the
House of Representatives on July 24 would provide Jones Act exemptions
for (1) all non-contiguous U.S. trades, including Hawaii; (2) Hawaii
alone; and (3) Hawaii agriculture and livestock. In announcing its
opposition to efforts to weaken or repeal the Jones Act, MCTF noted that
the highly-competitive trade to Hawaii and other non-contiguous
destinations will be further enhanced in the next year or so by the
addition of new, state-of-the-art containerships and auto carriers.
The Jones Act and related cabotage laws form the cornerstone of U.S.
maritime policy. The pacesetting Jones Act fleet supports the nation's
military and economic soundness. So efficient is the fleet that it
moves 24 percent of the country's domestic cargo for less than two
percent of the nation's freight bill. The national security importance
of the Jones Act fleet was demonstrated most recently during Operation
Iraqi Freedom, as domestic vessels, crewed by American seafarers,
provided support for U.S. troops engaged in the conflict.
The Maritime Cabotage Task Force, founded in 1995, is a broad-based
coalition with 400-plus members representing ship and barge owners and
operators, labor groups, shipbuilders and repair yards, marine equipment
manufacturers and vendors, trade associations, pro-defense groups and
companies in other modes of domestic transportation.