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The latest data shows that almost 50 countries across the globe maintain cabotage laws – and most of those regulations cover both crewing and ownership requirements.

Given that breadth, the MTD is heartened to point out the ongoing work of the International Transport Workers’ Federation’s (ITF) Cabotage Task force, formed in 2015. Today, the task force consists of unions from Canada, Norway, Brazil, Greece, Russia, Ukraine, the United States, Nigeria, Australia, the Philippines and India. (It is chaired by MTD Eastern Area Executive Board Member Jim Given.)

In any and all circumstances, it’s reassuring to have the strength of the ITF on your side. When it comes to the extremely important work of promoting and protecting cabotage laws, it’s especially valuable to count on the backing of the London-based federation, which protects transport workers’ rights around the world.

In our own descriptions of the Jones Act and cabotage in general, we occasionally focus on broad concepts or specific industrial statistics. However, this excerpt from the ITF Cabotage Task Force mission statement is a good reminder of what’s really at the heart of our efforts:

“National maritime cabotage – the system of reserving a nation’s domestic maritime commerce for its own citizens to ensure the retention of skilled workers and decent jobs for the future of the industry – has been a major tool for national governments who want to regulate what goes on in their domestic waters. It allows them to ensure that at least certain domestic trades are not conducted purely on the basis of lowest labor cost, and that minimum standards are protected…. Many countries depend on the sea for their trade and require maritime skills and experience to regulate shipping and safeguard their own strategic interests as maritime nations.”

Brothers and sisters, that sounds like a win-win scenario. Strong cabotage laws, properly enforced and in conjunction with workers having a voice, mean good jobs, national security, economic security, and homeland security.

Every maritime nation should insist on maintaining such laws, and with the ITF in our corner, we’re confident that such a goal is completely realistic.

The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils thank the ITF Cabotage Task Force for its ongoing partnership, leadership, reliability and friendship. The ITF remains a leading voice in the worldwide effort to preserve cabotage laws, and is doing outstanding work to that end.

“During the 2018 MTD Executive Board Meeting, the Seafarers’ Rights International report at least 91 countries have some sort of cabotage law.”