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Economy / Business

Leaders Say Shipping Law Protects Florida's Ports

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Bradley George/WUSF
Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) speaks in support of the Jones Act at a press conference at the Port of Tampa.

A group of Florida maritime businesses say a nearly 100 year old federal law is essential to the state’s ports. Those companies are working together to stop efforts to repeal the Jones Act.

Under the 1920 law, only ships registered in the United States with American crews can move cargo between U.S. ports.

Sam Norton, CEO of Tampa-based Overseas Shipholding Group, says the law is a guarantee of economic security.

“Virtually all the energy needs of this state are served by the maritime industry and virtually all of that is served by ships operating under the Jones Act,” Norton said at a press conference on Friday.

Critics, including politicians in Puerto Rico, say the law slowed recovery from Hurricane Maria. Supplies had to come from U.S.  ports instead of closer docks in the Caribbean.

President Trump waived the law in the aftermath of the storm. A bill recently introduced in Congress would repeal it.