The New Orleans Field office of U.S Customs and Border Protection met with Fort Lauderdale and New Orleans representatives from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) July 12 to discuss coastwise laws, specifically, the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) of 1886 and the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act. These laws prohibit the transportation of passengers and merchandise between points in the United States by foreign-flagged vessels. The purpose of the meeting was to provide guidance to CLIA members so they remain in compliance with coastwise trade laws.
“Part of JADE’s mission is education of the Jones Act,” explained Michael Hebert, Director of CBP’s Jones Act Division of Enforcement, located in New Orleans. “In that education, we go to the different ports to ensure that everyone is enforcing the law the same way. We need to have a unified effort so we need to engage with not only the cruise line industry, but also CBP officers and personnel, and the Coast Guard.”
The Jones Act covers more than 20,000 miles of navigable waterways throughout the United States. Vessels that violate this law may be subject to a penalty that may be equal to the cost of the merchandise or the transportation of the merchandise, whichever is greater.
The PVSA, on the other hand, applies to passenger transportation between U.S. points. As with the Jones Act, foreign-owned vessels may not transport passengers between U.S. ports. Violations may result in monetary penalties.
The cruise industry primarily uses foreign-flagged vessels in its trade. Compliance with these coastwise laws must be taken into consideration when planning a voyage. In order to stay within the law, cruise lines must embark and disembark passengers at the same U.S. point.