Today, trade and commerce are tied to the seamless flow of goods and services across national borders and regions. At the core of the international trading system is a diverse maritime industry. This important industry handles over 80% of all products transported on a global basis and includes vessel owners, operators, logistics providers, ports and terminals, users of the transport system and countless others—each ensuring that the worldwide supply chain operates effectively.

Venable attorneys understand the various challenges facing the maritime industry, from unique business concerns to emerging regulatory requirements. Our multidisciplinary team of professionals has a clear track record of providing thorough counsel and advice by helping maritime businesses navigate these challenges, from complex antitrust and regulatory issues to litigating disputes before courts and administrative agencies. Our knowledge of and contacts with U.S., Asian and European government and regulatory bodies allow us to advocate for individual interests from Washington, DC, Brussels, London, Beijing and around the world.


Maritime image

A presence in Washington, before Congress and Executive agencies.

In recent years, lawmakers and regulators both have set their sights on the maritime industry. This new found interest stems from increased regulatory scrutiny and the new security environment established after the 2001 terrorist attacks. Today, compliance with security protocols and meeting regulatory thresholds must both be included as part of a sound corporate governance strategy. Our professionals regularly speak on security topics before U.S. and international audiences and publish articles in LexisNexis®’ Benedict on Admiralty and Informa’s Lloyd’s Maritime Intelligence Handbook. We are also authors of LexisNexis®’ The Homeland Security Deskbook: Private Sector Impacts of the Defense Against Terrorism.

Once regulations are in place, they must be interpreted and applied—another area where we can help.

Venable attorneys are known as vigorous advocates and honest brokers on behalf of maritime interests—on Capitol Hill, before Executive Branch agencies and, when necessary, in the courts. We know Washington and how it affects your industry, in terms of the broad policy issues your industry faces, as well as the nuances that need to be taken into account when laws are drafted and regulations are written.

We counsel a diverse group of interests—including terminal operators, carriers, intermediaries and others—on important issues, such as transportation and homeland security initiatives, nascent congressional deliberations and other regulatory issues, including those arising under the Maritime Transportation Security Act (MTSA), the Trade Act of 2002 and the Security and Accountability For Every Port (SAFE) Act of 2006.

Best practice: knowing what comes next.

Venable clients are prepared when new legislation and regulations will significantly impact their operations through timely client alerts addressing actions by Congress and Executive Branch agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), the Maritime Administration and other trade and transportation authorities.

Dealing with environmental and safety issues.

We represent owners and operators of marine vessels, ports and off-shore facilities on licensing requirements, including environmental, safety and other issues involved in the licensing process. We also assist companies facing criminal, civil and administrative sanctions for water pollution, improper hazardous materials transportation and marine safety violations.

Led by former high-ranking environmental officials at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), our maritime team represents clients accused of environmental crimes and civil and administrative violations.

Building tomorrow’s ports.

Working with Congress, the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and other agencies, as well as experts in the maritime industry, Venable helps ports address the myriad of challenges they face in developing infrastructures that are economically and environmentally sound.

Assisting with pioneering off-shore development projects.

Our maritime team includes a former Coast Guard attorney and others who are helping clients create innovative strategies to gain approval and public acceptance of Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) terminals and other facilities on the outer Continental Shelf.


  • Venable has counseled and formulated strategy for trade and transportation data companies with security issues before the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), World Customs Organization (WCO) and H.M. Revenue and Customs (UK).
  • We advise U.S. and foreign logistics companies on the new People’s Republic of China maritime law and regulations.
  • We are defending a major U.S. port in an administrative challenge to its licensing practices.
  • Venable is assisting with the licensing and development of a unique project to place an LNG terminal on a man-made island.
  • Venable helped a client obtain the first licenses for commercial shipping between the United States and Cuba.
  • Venable is assisting clients on a variety of issues within the jurisdiction of DHS—ranging from regulatory and appropriations matters to trade and transportation facilitation, as well as to corporate transactions and protection of intellectual property.
  • We recently brought a successful action under the Administrative Procedures Act against an agency concerning the licensing of vessels authorized to operate in domestic trade.

Our maritime team comprises professionals with diverse backgrounds in government and the maritime business. Assisted by Venable’s renowned legislative team, we offer a comprehensive array of skills and capabilities to navigate the legal and business challenges confronting the maritime industry.