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Saturday, May 8, 2021
Travel Weekly: Grassroot Institute Cruises the Last Frontier
By Selected News Articles @ 10:36 PM :: 2830 Views :: Jones Act, Tourism, COVID-19

Grassroot Institute called 'surprising source' of help in Alaska's PVSA battle

Travel Weekly, "the travel industry's trusted voice," reports on why the Grassroot Institute came to the aid of the Last Frontier

From Grassroot Institute, May 7, 2021

National trade publication Travel Weekly wrote this past Monday, May 3, 2021, about a  "surprising source" in the fight to free Alaska from the clutches of the federal Passenger Vessel Services Act.

According to reporter Johanna Jainchill, "A case is being made to revisit the 135-year-old shipping law that could be the stranglehold on Alaska cruising this summer — not by citizens of the 49th state, but of the 50th."

"The nonprofit Grassroot Institute of Hawaii," she wrote, "is joining forces with organizations in Alaska to call for reform or repeal of the PVSA. … Why? [Because] Grassroot hopes that Alaska's 'more immediate crisis will prove to be the window of opportunity for those in Hawaii and elsewhere who wish to remove legal impediments to vibrant ocean cruising in U.S. waters.'"

In Alaska's case, Jainchill explained, the 1886 federal maritime law requires that all "foreign-flagged cruise ships, which account for all large cruise ships in the U.S. but one, must stop in a foreign port (Vancouver or Victoria, British Columbia, in Alaska's case) in order to visit U.S. ports. With Canada's current ban on cruise ships running through next February, this makes Alaska cruising nearly impossible for ships sailing from Seattle."

For Hawaii, she said, the PVSA "has had a much larger impact … For a foreign-flagged vessel to call on Hawaii and stop at a foreign port, there are no options with the proximity of Vancouver or Victoria. The closest stop is Fanning Island, Kiribati, 1,000 miles south of the state, which requires a day at sea each way. Ships sailing to Hawaii from California usually stop in Ensenada, Mexico, which is more than 2,000 miles from Hawaii, and the long cruise from the mainland to the islands and back means most Hawaii cruises are at least two weeks long, with about half being at sea."

Jainchill said that "Grassroot and the Alaska Policy Forum both contend that Alaska's current situation makes it clear 'that this 135-year-old protectionist maritime law needs attention.'" 

However, she added, "given that U.S. lawmakers seem more focused on encouraging Canada to permit ships to make technical stops this summer than to obtain a waiver to the PVSA, it seems there is an understanding as to how difficult it may be to get a waiver. … It may be easy to Blame Canada, but in this case, it seems it's been deemed easier to work with Canada rather than those within the U.S. government committed to preserving the status quo."



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