The intent of the Jones Act is to promote a healthy United States flag fleet and protect that fleet from unfair foreign competition.  This requires ships traveling between United States ports to be constructed by United States companies and owned by a United States company or citizen.  Members of the ships’ crews must be United States citizens or legal aliens.

Does This Act Apply to Passengers?

Explicitly, the act does not apply to passengers.  However, in principle, people tend to apply the act to passengers anyway.  A separate law passed before the Jones Act specifies that passengers cannot be transported between United States ports on a foreign ship. 

Can the Jones Act Requirements Ever Be Suspended or Waived?

The requirements can be waived, but only in rare situations of national emergency.   

Since Canada’s Maritime Laws and Regulations Mirror Those of the United States, are Canadian Ships Considered Foreign?

There is one major difference between Canadian ships and United States ships – subsidization.  In other words, Canada has helped in funding the construction of its ships whereas the United States has not.  Additionally, Canada’s taxation and social benefits differ substantially from that of the United States.  With all of these differences, allowing Canadian ships to compete with United States ships would create unfair foreign competition. 

Is the Jones Act Viewed as a Means of Getting Around U.S. Immigration Laws?

Due to the arrival of thousands of immigrants which have penetrated the United States job market, the Act has attempted to prevent jobs from being taken from Americans by preventing immigrants from entering United States ports on ships from foreign countries.   

Do I Need a Lawyer for My Jones Act Problem?

If you or a loved one is a seaman who suffered an injury in the performance of your maritime duties, it would be wise to consult with an experienced maritime law attorney.  Speaking with a maritime law lawyer will help you understand your rights and preserve any possible remedies.