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.