Port Tampa Bay backdrop for major maritime industry announcement

The U.S. maritime industry supports about 650,000 American Jobs.

St. Petersburg area Congressman Charlie Crist flanked by local and national maritime business leaders officially launched the Florida Maritime Partnership near Port Tampa Bay Friday.

The new partnership is a new statewide chapter of the American Maritime Partnership and serves as an advocacy group for businesses within the industry across the state. The groups seek to support not only the industry, but also the long-standing Jones Act that protects it.

The Jones Act requires all waterborne transportation of merchandise between U.S. ports must be done in vessels built and owned in the United States. It also requires American crews.

The new statewide partnership consists of maritime businesses, executives and workers who offer financial support to create an advocacy group to ensure continued awareness of the importance of the Jones Act.

“Because of the fact that the state of Florida does not have a refinery in the state, nor does it have pipelines running from refineries in other states, we are solely dependent on waterborne transportation for our energy needs and as a result of that we’re highly dependent on Jones Act floating assets,” said Eric Smith, chief commercial marine officer for Hendry Marine Industries.

Under the Jones Act, the U.S. maritime industry supports about 650,000 American Jobs and, according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers, Florida ranks No. 2 in the nation for the number of domestic maritime jobs, employing nearly 66,000 workers. The same report found Florida’s industry generates nearly $4 billion in worker income.

“Port Tampa Bay is Florida’s largest port and West Central Florida’s largest economic engine, and the domestic maritime industry contributes greatly to the economic strength of the port,” said Port Tampa Bay President and CEO Paul Anderson.

Smith said without the Jones Act, many of those jobs could be lost as foreign vessels and workers potentially entered the market and replaced jobs. But the century old law is constantly at risk, Smith added.

“Individuals that believe free trade should govern everything think it impedes free trade,” he said.

Not so, according to Smith. The law doesn’t impede international trade and, he said, doesn’t cost the consumer anything.

“The importance of the maritime industry to both Florida and the United States cannot be understated,” Crist said. “A robust maritime industry means a strong economy, good jobs and enhanced national security.”

Nationwide, the Jones Act supports $41 billion in labor income for American workers and accounts for nearly $155 billion in annual economic output each year.

Janelle Irwin Taylor

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in Tampa Bay since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as senior reporter for WMNF News. Janelle has a lust for politics and policy. When she’s not bringing you the day’s news, you might find Janelle enjoying nature with her husband, children and two dogs. You can reach Janelle at [email protected]


  • Carlos Maldonado

    March 25, 2019 at 5:38 pm

    Act Jones discriminate against USA territories such as Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, Guam, Samoa and Hawaii, Alaska who’s citizens are USA citizens as well, defending jobs for Americans living in the 48 continuous states not an equal rule, discrimination for providing good salary jobs at the expense of making citizens living in these territories and the 2 States higher food and living costs more expensive for the poor and for the children. Not fair.

    • David

      April 1, 2019 at 3:47 pm

      Since when was Hawaii and Alaska a territory?

      • Carlos Maldonado

        April 4, 2019 at 11:46 am

        They are States, but obligated too to use USA flag ships only for shipping food, fuels. making these products very expensive, the 48 continuous states have the benefit of using ground transportation which makes products cheaper. In your commentary you forget to validate that all 50 states were territories before becoming an State. No way out!

  • David

    April 1, 2019 at 3:40 pm

    Better Keep the Jones Act Strong or all these port jobs and American Mariners will be hurting for jobs.

Comments are closed.


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