As pilotage represents a significant operational consideration for MTS users, its regulation, management and service delivery are of keen interest to the commercial maritime industry in both Canada and the United States. For its part, the Regional Maritime Strategy acknowledges the need for a new look at the pilotage delivery service structure and calls for a more open, collaborative process involving relevant governmental agencies and industry from both side of the border.

Legislation To Amend The Canadian Pilotage Act

On the Canadian side of the MTS, 2019 federal legislation, Bill C-97, would amend the Pilotage Act, the law that governs the four Crown corporations that regulate pilotage on all four Canadian coastal ranges, including the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.  Major elements of the legislation would separate regulatory authority from the delivery of pilotage services; transfer responsibilities for regulating and issuing pilotage certificates from the pilotage authorities to Transport Canada; give Transport Canada regulatory responsibility for risk assessments and for the establishment of compulsory pilotage areas; ensure that service contracts cannot be used to address regulatory matters or circumvent the regulatory process; and require that service contracts be made publicly available. Canadian maritime industry leaders have been supportive of the act’s provision to transfer pilot certification to Transport Canada, as this would  enable a national program where potentially more domestic ships’ crews will be certified to pilot their own vessels in compulsory pilotage zones.

U.S. Industry Challenge To Great Lakes Pilotage Rates

When the U.S. Coast Guard published a final rule in May, 2019 setting rates for U.S. pilots on the Great Lakes for the 2019 navigation season, the American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA) noted that it marked the fifth consecutive year of a double-digit increase in pilotage costs granted by the Coast Guard over the previous year. The 2019 rates represent an increase of 11 percent over 2018, which AGLPA attributed to a growing pilot workforce and higher pilot compensation. In November 2018, AGLPA joined with the Shipping Federation of Canada and the United States Great Lakes Shipping Association to challenge the proposed increases and the Coast Guard’s methodology to approve them, identifying 17 specific objections to the process.  The challenge was unsuccessful, however, and the new rates went into effect June 10.