Government reforms the Pilotage Act: Aim is to ensure maritime safety

Press release 17.11.2022 13.36 fi sv en

Pilot ships at a dock. (Image: LVM)

On 17 November 2022, the Government submitted to Parliament a proposal for an overall reform of the Pilotage Act. The aim of the proposal is to ensure maritime safety in Finnish waters.

The task of a pilot is to act as an advisor to the master of the ship on the local waters and shipping and provide navigational assistance to vessels on the routes. The purpose of the government proposal submitted to Parliament is to improve maritime safety by laying down more precise and equitable provisions on the pilotage obligation and exemption from it. In addition, the proposal would improve the opportunities of the competent authority to ensure that pilots and persons exempt from the pilotage obligation possess the required skills and competence.

In the future, all ships of at least 50 metres in length would, as a rule, be subject to the pilotage obligation when navigating in the pilotage area of Finland. On the main routes used by merchant vessels, the definition for when the use of a pilot is obligatory would be set by a regulation of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.

According to the proposal, the competence of the maritime operators would have to be better verified than before. The current exemptions, including the Pilotage Exemption Certificates, would be replaced by route and region-specific licences exempting from the pilotage obligation.

The proposed reform of the Pilotage Act would specify the right of the pilotage company to refuse or abort pilotage missions. The Act would also impose new obligations on pilotage companies in relation to the provision of pilotage services, the company’s preparedness for emergencies and the national security of its operations.

The proposal would also specify the sanction procedures. The liability of the pilot and other personnel in the pilotage company for their acts in office would be specified, and Traficom would be given the opportunity to intervene in misconduct by imposing a penalty payment.

The proposal would include a provision on the grounds for compensating the loss of income incurred to the pilotage company. The provision would ensure pilotage activities in the Saimaa Canal and other Saimaa waterways also in emergency situations.

What's next?

A referral debate on the government proposal submitted to Parliament will be conducted in a Parliament plenary session. Information on the date of the session will be available on the Parliament website.

After the debate, the proposal will be referred to a parliamentary committee. The committee will draft a report, which will then be discussed in a plenary session.

The legislative amendments are intended to enter into force on 1 June 2023.

Inquiries:

Katja Peltola, Senior Specialist, katja.peltola(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 50 530 2175

Pyry Takala, Director of Unit, pyry.takala(at)gov.fi, tel. +358 50 911 7627