The traditional ways for industries to get favors or protection from government are to hire lobbyists, make campaign contributions, or both. But one industry that’s enjoyed government protection for a century has decided those methods aren’t nearly enough.

As gCaptian’s Mike Schuler reports:

Sick and tired of foreign vessels taking advantage of loopholes in the Jones Act, the Offshore Marine Service Association (OMSA) says it is taking the unprecedented step of launching a vessel tasked with documenting and reporting Jones Act rule breakers.

The Jones Act serves as the bedrock of American maritime policy with broad support in Washington, and requires that seaborne cargo shipped between two U.S. points is carried on U.S.-built, crewed and owned vessels. But over the years, OMSA says various rulings by the Customs and Border Protection, the agency responsible for Jones Act enforcement, have created “dozens” of loopholes that have allowed foreign-flagged vessels to participate in offshore energy projects in U.S. waters.

According to OMSA, these loopholes have opened the gates for foreign-flag vessel operators to “repeatedly” exploit the rules to the detriment of American mariners and national security.

“The Act is not being implemented in a manner that is correct under the law and as a result, American security is being threatened and American workers are losing jobs to foreign vessels,” said Aaron Smith, OMSA President and CEO. “It’s time that someone takes a stand and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”

OMSA and over 140 of its member companies have decided to take action with the launch of the JONES ACT ENFORCER, a first-of-its-kind vessel that will be used to gather video and photographic evidence of Jones Act violations to be submitted to the authorities and shared with media.

The group gets credit for its determination to defend its government-granted status. But the defense of a protectionist regime that forces consumers to pay higher costs for increasingly limited service from fewer companies is ridiculous on its face.

Time to sunset the 100 year-old protectionist Jones Act and allow the market to work.