Commentary: At 100, Jones Act still protects maritime economy

Named for a Washington state senator, the act keeps shipbuilding jobs here and protects U.S. waters.

By Rick Larsen / For The Herald

One hundred years ago this week, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Merchant Marine Act into law. Named for the primary sponsor, U.S. Sen. Wesley Jones from my home state of Washington, the Jones Act, as it is more commonly known, sustains and protects a strong domestic maritime and shipbuilding industry.

The Jones Act requires the use of American-owned and operated vessels to move all waterborne cargo between points in the United States. This key maritime standard ensures local vessel operators, marine terminals and shipyards can continue to contribute to the Pacific Northwest’s economy.

As I often say, transportation means jobs in Washington state. At its core, the Jones Act is a critical labor standard that helps put U.S. mariners to work and maintains important workplace rights. In Washington’s Second Congressional District, the district I represent, the Jones Act supports 2,240 jobs which generate more than $130 million in labor income and more than $642 million in economic impact annually.

The Jones Act also underpins U.S. maritime defense policy and is essential to preserving national security interests at home and abroad. A recent U.S. Maritime Administration (MARAD) study found Washington’s shipyards created more than $972 million in economic impact annually. Northwest Washington’s shipyards, including Dakota Creek Industries and Nichols Brothers Boat Builders in my district, play a key role in constructing and modernizing the Jones Act fleet. Jones Act crews and vessels play a critical role in securing the nation’s strategic interests. Furthermore, the Jones Act protects U.S. waters, infrastructure and resources from incursions by foreign vessel operators.

Known for its heroic and steadfast dedication in the face of natural disaster, war and other challenges, the Jones Act fleet’s response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is no exception. Last week, I participated in a House Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee hearing on the status of the U.S. maritime supply chain during the pandemic. During this discussion, representatives from the nation’s ports, waterway operators, mariners and the maritime industry agreed that preserving and protecting the Jones Act must be a national priority. As markets gradually reopen and trade recovers, the Jones Act will ensure domestic industries remain vibrant contributors to the global shipping economy.

A century after the enactment of the Jones Act, Washington state and the nation continue to benefit greatly. As a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I am committed to working with my colleagues to uphold the Jones Act to safeguard the important role maritime industries play in the U.S. economy and national security.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-2nd District, is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and serves on the Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Subcommittee.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Opinion

toon
Editorial cartoons for Wednesday, Feb. 21

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

Jaime Benedict, who works as a substitute teacher, waves to drivers on the corner of Mukilteo Speedway and Harbor Pointe Boulevard while holding a sign in support of the $240 million capital bond proposal for Mukilteo School District on Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020 in Mukilteo, Wash. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Bar set unfairly high for passage of school bonds

Requiring 60 percent approval denies too many students the schools and facilities they deserve.

Comment: Fraud decision will do real damage to Trump’s empire

A “complete lack of contrition and remorse” will cost Trump $500 million and control of his business.

Story on Marysville property tax lacked necessary context

I am writing to address the recent headline in The Herald regarding… Continue reading

Fear not, Snohomish’s GroundFrog Day is not on its last frog legs

I am very disappointed to read that Snohomish is ending its annual… Continue reading

‘Good guys with guns’ isn’t working

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is… Continue reading

Parties need a talk with their apparent and aging leaders

Unless something unforeseen happens, it looks like we may be stuck with… Continue reading

toon
Editorial cartoons for Tuesday, Feb. 20

A sketchy look at the news of the day.… Continue reading

A leasing sign in visible outside of A’cappella Apartment Homes on Wednesday, March 1, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Editorial: Cap on rent can keep more people in their homes

The legislation balances affordability with the need to encourage growth in the stock of housing.

Election signs line a section of Mukilteo Blvd. in Everett. (Sue Misao / Everett Herald)
Editorial: Switch of local elections may be premature

Adding local elections to even-year ballots could boost participation but election officials have concerns.

"Law & Order" cast members (from left) S. Epatha Merkerson, Jeremy Sisto and Anthony Anderson are shown with episode director Marisol Torres on the show's set in New York, in April 2008. (Bernadette Tuazon / Associated Press file photo)
Editorial: Leave the interrogation ruses to the TV cop shows

A House bill would limit the use of deceptive interrogations that have resulted in wrongful convictions.

Reject Trump to protect democracy

It is beyond doubt that Donald Trump will be the Republican nominee… Continue reading

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.