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CBP furthers partnership with cruise industry

Release Date: 
July 13, 2018

NEW ORLEANS, La--The New Orleans Field office of U.S Customs and Border Protection met with Fort Lauderdale and New Orleans representatives from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) July 12, 2018 to discuss coastwise laws, specifically, the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA) of 1886 and the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, also known as the Jones Act.  These laws prohibit the transportation of passengers and merchandise between points in the United States by foreign-flagged vessels. The purpose of the meeting was to provide guidance to CLIA members so they remain in compliance with coastwise trade laws. 

“Part of JADE’s mission is education of the Jones Act,” explained Michael Hebert, Director of CBP’s Jones Act Division of Enforcement, located in New Orleans. “In that education, we go to the different ports to ensure that everyone is enforcing the law the same way. We need to have a unified effort so we need to engage with not only the cruise line industry, but also CBP officers and personnel, and the Coast Guard.”

​​Mike Hebert speaks to CLIA reps
Michael Hebert, Director of CBP's
Jones Act Division of Enforcement in
New Orleans, addresses coastwise laws
affecting the cruise industry.

The Jones Act covers more than 20,000 miles of navigable waterways throughout the United States. Vessels that violate this law may be subject to a penalty that may be equal to the cost of the merchandise or the transportation of the merchandise, whichever is greater.

The PVSA, on the other hand, applies to passenger transportation between U.S. points. As with the Jones Act, foreign-owned vessels may not transport passengers between U.S. ports. Violations may result in monetary penalties.

The cruise industry primarily uses foreign-flagged vessels in its trade. Compliance with these coastwise laws must be taken into consideration when planning a voyage. In order to stay within the law, cruise lines must embark and disembark passengers at the same U.S. point.

“It’s important that we continue to work with our external partners in the cruise line industry as the industry grows so we can address their concerns and ensure that everyone is on the same page as far as rules and regulations,” said Michele Ward, CBP’s Cruise line Program Manager with Admissibility and Passenger Programs.

Ward explained that CBP meets with CLIA twice a year on the national level, but smaller local meetings such as this give participants a better opportunity to know their local representatives and address specific concerns that don’t often get addressed in the bigger forums.

“They (local representatives) are the subject matter experts who will be able to put out the information to the external stakeholders, which helps to build partnerships and relationships,” she said. “It’s human nature: we like a name with a face.”

JADE is located in CBP’s New Orleans Field Office in the historic U.S. Custom House. The field office includes a seven-state area consisting of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Florida Panhandle. Four of these states have a total of 694 miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico. The five stations of the New Orleans Sector, Lake Charles, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, Louisiana, Gulfport Mississippi, and Mobile, Alabama, are responsible for patrol of the coastal border as well as highway interdiction emanating from the border area. For more information about coastwise trade or the Jones Act, contact the JADE office at Allegations of violations of cabotage law can be submitted online at

Last modified: 
July 17, 2018