News & Updates

President’s Message: April 2023

Mike Rubin
President & CEO

Florida’s seaports continue to show the world why Florida is where your ship comes in. After experiencing new record high cargo in 2022, our reliable and resilient ports are already successfully capturing even more market share.

JAXPORT is welcoming the bi-weekly MSC ScanBaltic to USA container service, which provides direct access to and from Scandinavia. This marks MSC’s fifth container service at JAXPORT. Port Panama City just secured about 17,000 tons of aggregate slated for road building projects in the Florida panhandle region. Oceanus Line recently began calling on SeaPort Manatee, providing an all-water link between seaports in Mexico and Colombia and Port Freeport on the Texas Gulf Coast. And at Port Canaveral, cruise ships are sailing at 110 percent capacity.

Florida’s 16 seaports are providing a competitive advantage for shipping lines and the cruise industry, and it’s why we remain ready for even more business.

However, new proposed federal regulations, if enacted, will have a negative impact on the positive momentum we’re seeing in passenger and cargo vessel operations in Florida. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed new North Atlantic Right Whale rules that would apply to a larger than current area of Florida’s coastal water, and would be extended for a longer period of time. Over in the Gulf of Mexico, NOAA has proposed designating critical habitat for the Rice’s Whale.

Florida’s seaports have been tireless advocates and stewards of protecting the environment and marine life that surrounds our state. Many of our seaports serve on ocean and marine advocacy groups like the Marine Resources Council, Green Marine and the Florida Ocean Alliance. Yet, these proposed rules will impose severe hazards to the navigation of several Florida navigational harbors. Speed restriction will have a profound impact on passenger and cargo vessel operations by slowing vessel transits to dangerous levels that impede vessel maneuverability. Further, these proposed changes present additional challenges to an already strained supply chain.

Within the state of Florida, we’re seeing positive news as lawmakers prepare to bring the 2023 Legislative Session in for a landing. Lawmakers are now revealing budget proposals and it currently appears that lawmakers will fully fund the seaport work program, allowing around $150 million for Florida’s ports recommended project list.

We continue to be fully engaged, advocating on behalf of each of our seaports, and working to ensure that Florida continues to be where your ship comes in. Thank you for your support of Florida’s reliable, resilient and ready seaports.