09 June 2006

Pilot pulls Bond Papers off the rocks

The following was received on Friday as an e-mail with attachment and speaks for itself.

We stand suitably corrected.
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I am writing to clarify some confusion that your article brought to light. "The Placentia Pilot" is the name of the 17 metre long launch that transfers the marine pilot to and from the pilot boarding station. The launch master and crew are not pilots; they are hired by the Atlantic Pilotage Authority (APA) under a private contractor arrangement. The qualification for the launch master, as set by the APA, is a minimum requirement of a 60 tonne master'’s certificate.

It is the Placentia Bay Marine Pilots who physically board the ships that are transiting the compulsory pilotage zone and are responsible for the vessels'’ safe navigation, not the pilot boat crew. Pilots are seasoned master mariners with over 20 years of combined nautical training and sea experience. The minimum requirement is an unlimited tonnage certificate.

Candidates undergo rigorous testing followed by a long apprenticeship, studying every aspect of the waterway for which they will be responsible. Once a pilot has qualified, they continue specialized training, ensuring that they are capable of handling the most up-to-date navigational equipment.

The Canadian Marine Pilots'’ Association'’s (CMPA) mandate is to foster public awareness of the role of marine pilots in protecting public safety and the environment, and to work with other marine stakeholders to further the common goal of ensuring a vibrant and healthy marine sector. I am attaching a recent media release issued by the CMPA that speaks to just the type of environmental concern that you mention in your article.

Capt. Patrick Careen
Chairman
St. John'’s/Holyrood/Placentia Bay Pilots'’ Committee
Attachment:

Atlantic Pilotage Authority Exempts Offshore Supply Boats

Halifax, NS - – Human error has been identified as the key causal factor in 75%-96% of marine accidents. These are the facts that make pilots and pilotage services the most important elements of safety in narrow waterways and ports. Due to their training for a specific area and their experience gained during everyday operations, pilots can minimize human error.

Until May 17, 2006 port stakeholders in Atlantic Canada and the residents who live and work along these waterways had the comfort of knowing that all ships above 1,500 gross registered tonnes were required to have a licensed marine pilot, or a pilotage certificate holder onboard, who was responsible for the safe navigation of the ship.

Effective May 17 at 12:01 a.m., the Atlantic Pilotage Authority and Transport Canada eliminated this safety margin for 96% of the vessel transits by Canadian ships operating at the 16 compulsory pilotage areas, in Atlantic Canada. [Amendment to the Atlantic Pilotage Authority'’s regulations under Subsection 4(2)(C)].

All Canadian-registered offshore supply vessels up to 5,000 gross registered tonnes are now free to operate in compulsory pilotage waters of the Atlantic Provinces without the requirement of having a licensed pilot or a pilotage certificate holder onboard.

The Canadian Marine Pilots'’ Association is puzzled by the APA'’s drive to turn over its responsibility to stakeholders and the public to the offshore supply boat operators.

"“Direct responsibility for public safety now lies with the private operators of offshore supply vessels to self-regulate their own standards in these confined waterways and we believe that is cause for concern,"” says Capt. Andrew Rae, Vice President, Atlantic for the Canadian Marine Pilots'’ Association.

"“Industry has always had the clear alternative not to use the services of pilots and pay pilotage fees by having their masters obtain pilotage certificates. This certification process has been in place to protect the public interest by providing for safe navigation within confined waterways. It is endorsed by the Canadian Transportation Agency (CTA),"” says Captain Andrew Rae, a marine pilot with 19 years experience at the Port of Halifax.

"“Safety concerns in narrow waterways and ports are accentuated by the continuing increase in marine traffic. The attendant growth in cargo volume has likewise increased the scale of the potential hazards to life, property and the environment that could result from just one catastrophic marine accident."

Economic growth potential for Atlantic Canada is directly tied to its ports. Canso and Saint John have received environmental approval to proceed with developing LNG terminals. Post-Panamax containerships are regular callers in the Port of Halifax. Approximately 90 million tonnes (90 billion litres) of petroleum products transit through the region'’s waterways, annually. Amending section 4 applies unilaterally to all APA compulsory areas in the region, including the port of St. John'’s, NL -– home to Atlantic Canada'’s busiest offshore supply base.

The Atlantic Pilotage Authority was established in 1972 pursuant to the Pilotage Act. The mandate of the APA is to establish, operate, maintain and administer, in the interest of safety, an efficient Pilotage service within the designated waters of the Atlantic region.

The Canadian Marine Pilots'’ Association'’s mandate is to foster public awareness of the role of marine pilots in protecting public safety and the environment, and to work with other marine stakeholders to further the common goal of ensuring a vibrant and healthy marine sector.

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