Tag Archives: “maritime pilotage”

MARITIME | UK signals possible review of pilotage qualifications

Department for Transport indicates new government will review some aspects of pilotage provision

THE UK Department for Transport has rejected claims that it is failing to ensure harbour authorities maintain pilotage standards in UK ports, but has indicated that the new government will review some aspects of pilotage provision, including qualifications for pilots.

Pilots’ organisations say that government has an obligation to monitor and enforce safety standards in UK ports, including pilotage. In particular there are suggestions that some privately-run ports operate pilotage as a commercial product rather than a safety-related service. It is claimed that in certain ports there are insufficient pilots with the necessary experience to handle large vessels, although ports insist that they are meeting statutory requirements.

International Maritime Pilots Association secretary-general Nick Cutmore told Lloyd’s List: “The UK laissez-faire attitude is totally the wrong way to go, entrusting this to commercial entities is a recipe for disaster. We are diametrically opposed to the way the UK conducts its business on this.”

But the DfT says that under the Pilotage Act 1987 responsibility for pilotage falls entirely on harbour authorities. “The Department does not have a statutory responsibility under the 1987 Act to police the manner in which harbour authorities discharge their pilotage functions and the current policy is one of persuasion rather than regulation and enforcement,” a DfT spokesman told Lloyd’s List. “It is for the courts to determine whether a harbour authority has acted in accordance with statutory powers and duties.”

IMPA also claimed that this hands-off approach is contrary to IMO recommendations on governments’ responsibilities for pilotage standards. However, the DfT said: “The department believes the pilotage arrangements under the 1987 Act are sufficient to meet the IMO recommendation. However, this is clearly an important issue which the shipping minister will be able to discuss with the IMO when he meets with them in the near future.”

A draft Marine Navigation Bill published in 2008 proposed that the secretary of state require Harbour Authorities to employ only qualified persons as pilots and prescribe the standards of competence required. That Bill did not make it through the legislative process before the general election in May, but is under review by the new administration.

The DfT said : “All draft legislation in the pipeline from the previous administration is subject to review by Ministers before deciding how best to proceed.”


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SAFETY | No Reef pilot, no Reef passage

Andrew Jeremijenko – LLOYD’S LIST

THE Chinese coal ship Shen Neng 1 ran aground on Douglas Shoal on April 3. If ships passing through the Great Barrier Reef were required to have a compulsory pilot for a cost of less than $10,000 this accident could have been prevented.

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Brazilian pilots are playing fair

I wrote the following letter to the prestigious magazine Safety at Sea International (http://www.safetyatsea.net/).  The letter, which was published in the November 2009 issue, helps understand the Brazilian maritime pilotage system better.

I would like to comment on the News Insight feature in SASI‘s September 2009 issue [p13].

First, Elias Gedeon’s claim that the Brazilian pilotage system is an unregulated monopoly does not agree with reality. Brazilian law requires pilotage fees to be fixed by negotiation between pilots and carriers; only when there is no consensus will the Maritime Authority intervene by mediation or, ultimately, arbitration.

If there is any lack of regulation on pilotage, it is on the side of the carriers. In August, following a commercial dispute with Itajaí Pilots, Centronave members – which account for 75% of the Itajaí pilotage cash flow – decided not to pay the fees for services already rendered. It was an attempt to use the carriers’ economic dominance to asphyxiate the service and force pilots to bow to their demands. This caused the Maritime Authority to summon both the pilots and Centronave to ensure the service would not come to a halt for economic reasons.

Second, the reason why pilots do not stop the service in the event of a standoff during negotiations is because the law forbids pilots to do so. Only the Maritime Authority can suspend them, and then only for safety reasons.

Third, pilots have been a cost-effective ‘asset’ for most Brazilian ports. By allowing larger ships to transit safely in restricted waters, pilots were instrumental in boosting Brazilian maritime trade.

At a time when one witnesses a shortage of experienced and qualified officers, the need to protect life, environment and property, and to help public interest and welfare prevail over private concerns and market forces is all the more important. This is exactly what pilots are for.

Alexandre Rocha —President, Itajaí Pilots (Brazil)

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Criminalisation and The Maritime Pilot

Captain François Laffoucrière, MNI, Delegate of The Nautical Institute to the IMO

The IMO General-Secretary, Mr. Mitropoulos, has voiced his concerns many times in the past, and particularly to the European Parliament (EP), regarding the increasing use of criminal prosecution in many national legislations for every maritime accident, and regarding the introduction of criminal sanctions in case of ship’s pollution resulting from negligence.

What does “criminalisation” mean?

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Brazilian pilotage — Wages, safety and monopolies

Source: Safety At Sea – Magazine – News (03 Sep 2009) — by Rob Ward

Link: http://www.safetyatsea.net/secure/display.aspx?articlename=sane20090903015ne&phrase=Alexandre

In the maritime and port communities of Brazil, one topic dominates conversation: the enormous salaries commanded by pilots. The issue of wages may not seem to be a safety concern, but the debate has serious implications for the pilotage of vessels in the region, as changes to the way in which pilots’ wages are regulated may result in altered training arrangements and could even affect the supply of fresh recruits to the profession.

On one side of the debate you have Alexandre Rocha, a top pilot in the south Brazilian port of Itajaí and the financial director of Conapra, the Brazilian pilots’ association. Rocha is worried that regulatory changes triggered by wage issues could lead to inexperienced pilots working in difficult conditions. “If we have too many new pilots being placed in one port all at the same time then there are some very serious safety issues,” he told SASI.

Taking the opposing view is Elias Gedeon, executive director for Centronave, an association that represents the interests of foreign-flag shipowners in Brazil. “The pilots in Brazil are an unregulated monopoly,” he told SASI. “It is supposed to be regulated by the Brazilian Navy, but they will only intervene if the pilots stop the service – and the pilots are too clever to do that.”

The navy currently oversees pilot training and has a close relationship with the profession because many pilots are former naval personnel. Centronave maintains that pilot training and wages should be regulated by the Brazilian Special Ports Ministry (SEP) or by Antaq (a regulatory body linked to the Ministry of Transport) or even by local port authorities. “They should be regulated through a civil institution,” Gedeon told SASI.

“Centronave is insisting that the safety aspects can be covered by the navy and the economic side by someone else,” Rocha countered. “We are saying there should be no difference: pilots need to be independent and should not be subjected to outside [economic] pressures. Pilotage is not a commercial issue, it is a safety issue.”

With the backing of a study from São Paulo University, Centronave and other port users have been claiming that pilots in Brazil are being paid on average around $1.1M a year. The average cost of port fees for a 5,000teu container ship calling at Santos (which boasts up to 40 vessel calls a day) comes in at Reais56,000 ($28,000) per call – and at least 50% of that goes directly to the pilots.

“We know some pilots sympathise with us and some have agreed to a pay freeze this year,” reflected Gedeon, “but some are already planning for big increases for next year. We also don’t feel safety will be jeopardised, as the navy could still oversee training of new pilots and safety aspects.” And he acknowledged that “when the economic crisis is over we will need more pilots.”

In Rocha’s view, many of the reported income increases have been caused by the reduction in pilot numbers, through retirement and the lack of a policy to train up more. Because the independent pilots’ associations are paid per vessel call, any reduction in the number of pilots available means more work – and more money – for each remaining pilot.

“New recruits must be phased in gradually,” observed Rocha. “If you have too many pilots coming into the system too quickly it could mean some are under the professional standard required, and that could have safety implications.” Some 117 trainee pilots have recently passed their exams in Brazil.

Rocha insisted that Itajaí has been understaffed for some time, with six pilots on the roster, one of whom is on long-term sick leave. “The work is very stressful, especially here where the channel is very narrow and the vessels are getting bigger and bigger – up to more than 4,000teu capacity before the recent floods took away some of the depth.” Rocha said he was taking in six new recruits, but only one of them had local knowledge of the River Itajaí-Açu, which is narrow, has several sharp bends, and strong currents that build up at particular points in certain seasons. Brazilian rules dictate that trainees must spend at least one year alongside an experienced pilot before being allowed to guide vessels on their own.

Pedro Brito, the special minister with responsibility for Brazil’s ports via the SEP, has made it clear that he wants to see Conapra made more accountable. Conapra, meanwhile, is leaving it down to each port’s individual pilots to agree a reduction in fees. SASI sources in Brazil understand that the carriers will get, at best, a tariff freeze in 2009.

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