BC Coast Pilots advocate for the prioritization of safety and marine environment in the Pilotage Act Review

During the year-long consultations to review the Pilotage Act, the BC Coast Pilots (BCCP) travelled across the country to meet with government officials (Ministers, Members of Parliament, key policy makers), industry stakeholders, and other pilotage authorities to discuss the amendments to the Pilotage Act. In total, we made over a dozen of trips across Canada to attend and contribute to meetings and discussions, and meet with a number of stakeholders. This is an important process and we took it seriously. We want to see the Pilotage Act modernized, and we want to make sure we do it right. Above all, we are advocates for marine safety at the highest standard.

The Pilotage Act Review is taking place in-step with the implementation of the Ocean Protection Plan, which is not only a major investment, but a catalyst that brings together government, Indigenous peoples, experts, communities, and the marine industry to ensure a world-leading marine environment and safety system. The goal of this Review is to provide a modernized legislative and regulatory framework that governs the functioning of Pilotage Authorities and the delivery of pilotage services in the future. Pilots have a critical role to play and a responsibility to work with others to understand and address the complexities of marine navigation.

In Spring 2018, the recommendation report was released. We support the majority of the recommendations and are pleased to see our perspectives considered in the report. There are, however, a handful of recommendations where we believe improvement is necessary. In some instances, we are concerned that if specific changes are adopted, marine safety on the west coast will be compromised.

We will continue to work with B.C. MPs and liaise with Transport Canada to ensure the best possible pilotage rules and system is adopted. To this end, after reading the recommendation report, we are advocating for the following changes:

  1. The ‘purpose clause’ in the Act should give precedence to public safety and environmental protections. The current suggested language limits the definition of safety to merely “adequate” or “the highest practical standard”. This does not instill confidence that public safety and marine environment are of paramount importance.
  2. Only licensed Canadian pilots or pilotage certificate holders be eligible to navigate vessels in local waters. Evidence shows that local pilots feel a stronger sense of obligation to protect the place they call home while non-locals ten to prioritize their responsibility to the vessel owner.
  3. The single-service provider model, which is the current model, is the best option to allow BCCP to focus on environmentally responsible pilotage and efficient movement of ships. International experience has shown that introducing multiple service providers in pilotage leads to a deterioration of safety standards.
  4. Regional pilotage authorities should remain separate to uphold regional priorities and consistencies in training and qualifications

If you are interested in learning more, we’ve included four materials for your reading pleasure:

We welcome your thoughts and feedback at bccp@bcpilots.com.