TOLEDO, OH---Ohio Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur has been named Great Lakes Legislator of the Year by The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force, the largest coalition representing the Great Lakes maritime community. The award is presented annually to legislators who best advance the interests of Great Lakes shipping in Congress. Rep. Kaptur will receive the award on May 4 at the Task Force's Ninth Annual Informational Breakfast for the Great Lakes Delegation in Washington.
"Rep. Kaptur has been a tireless advocate for Great Lakes shipping for more than 20 years," said Patrick J. O'Hern, President of Great Lakes Maritime Task Force (GLMTF) and Vice President and General Manager of Bay Shipbuilding Company in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. "Whenever there has been a need, be it a new heavy icebreaker or navigation improvements, Congresswoman Kaptur has been among the first to embrace the issue and guide the effort to a successful conclusion."
As a native of Toledo, Rep. Kaptur's interest in Great Lakes shipping is a natural. Toledo is one of the largest ports on the Great Lakes, annually handling more than 12 million tons of cargo. Tens of U.S.-Flag lakers winter in Toledo and undergo maintenance and modernization. Rep. Kaptur was instrumental in obtaining funding for improvements to the shipyard in Toledo that led to construction of a large tank barge and attracted new jobs to the region.
"Rep. Kaptur understands how important Great Lakes shipping is to Toledo's economy and that those benefits then pulsate throughout the region and the nation," said Daniel L. Smith, First Vice President of GLMTF and National Vice President, Great Lakes, for American Maritime Officers. "Without the efficiencies of waterborne commerce, our steel industry and heavy manufacturers would be unable to compete in the global economy."
The award also recognizes Rep. Kaptur's longstanding support for a strong U.S.-Flag merchant marine. "The U.S.-flag Great Lakes fleet is recognized worldwide as the pacesetter for the dry-bulk cargo trades," said James H. I. Weakley, 2nd Vice President of GLMTF and President of Lake Carriers' Association. "No other nation can boast of a fleet of self-unloading vessels equal to those flying the U.S. flag on the Great Lakes. Without Rep. Kaptur's support for Federal maritime policies such as the Jones Act that promote a strong domestic merchant marine, the fleet could not have achieved this stature."
Rep. Kaptur's commitment to the St. Lawrence Seaway figured prominently in her selection as Great Lakes Legislator of the Year. "The overseas trade is a key element in Great Lakes shipping," said John D. Baker, 3rd Vice President of GLMTF and President of the ILA's Great Lakes District Council. "Every cargo that lands at Toledo or other American Great Lakes ports eases the burden on our highways and rail lines and makes available cost-effective transportation options for Midwest farmers looking to export grain. Congresswoman Kaptur is dedicated to maintaining the St. Lawrence Seaway as our region's link to the Atlantic Ocean and markets throughout the world."
The Great Lakes Maritime Task Force was founded in Toledo, Ohio, in 1992 to promote domestic and international Great Lakes shipping. It is the largest coalition to ever speak for the Great Lakes shipping community and draws its membership from both labor and management representing U.S.-flag vessel operators, shipboard and longshore unions, shipyards, and other Great Lakes interests. Its goals include construction of a second Poe-sized lock at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan; preserving the domestic steelmaking infrastructure; protecting the nation's cabotage laws; maximizing the Lakes overseas trade; increasing funding for annual dredging of ports and waterways; and opposing exports and increased diversions of Great Lakes water.
Previous recipients of the Great Lakes Legislator of the Year Award from Ohio are Senators John D. Glenn, Mike DeWine and George V. Voinovich and Congressmen Louis Stokes and Steven C. LaTourette.
Ohio-based members are: American Maritime Officers (Toledo); Faulkner, Muskovitz & Philips (Cleveland); Great Lakes District Council, ILA (Cleveland); ILA Lake Erie Coal & Ore Dock Council (Toledo); ILA Local 1317 (Cleveland); ILA Local 1768 (Toledo); International Organization of Masters, Mates & Pilots (Cleveland); International Ship Masters Association (Brooklyn); The Interlake Steamship Company (Richfield); Lake Carriers' Association (Cleveland); Oglebay Norton Marine Services Company (Cleveland); Toledo Port Council; Toledo Shiprepair Company; United Steelworkers of America, District 1 (Warrensville Heights) and Local 5000 (Middleburg Heights).
Glen G. Nekvasil
Secretary, Great Lakes Maritime Task Force