By the Capes: A Primer on U.S. Coastwise Laws   [open pdf - 25KB]

"Title I of the Merchant Marine Act of 1936 declares, in part, that the national defense and the development of domestic commerce of the United States require a merchant marine sufficient to carry the nation's domestic waterborne commerce. A number of federal laws guide this policy, including several that restrict domestic commerce to vessels that are constructed in the United States, owned by U.S. citizens, and registered under the U.S. flag. While actual interpretation and enforcement of those laws is the responsibility of the U.S. Customs Service and the U.S. Coast Guard, the Maritime Administration (MARAD) is concerned with their effect on the national programs that it administers. Accordingly, MARAD is frequently the first of the three agencies to be contacted on questions concerning the coastwise laws. This pamphlet has been prepared as an aid to better understand the origin, purpose and content of the coastwise laws. It is not intended to be an exhaustive treatment of the subject. Accordingly, MARAD of the Department of Transportation, and the United States Government do not represent this summary discussion of the major coastwise laws as determinative with regard to any particular set of facts requiring construction or interpretation of the pertinent statutes and regulations implementing the coastwise laws. Readers are urged to consult the cited statutes (United States Code) and regulations (Code of Federal Regulations) for their full text as well as rulings of the U.S. Customs Service or U.S. Coast Guard for interpretations applicable to specific situations."

Public Domain
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U.S. Department of Transportation, Maritime Administration: http://www.marad.dot.gov
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