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Victorian pilotage arrangements revised

The Port of Melbourne.

Image courtesy of the Port of Melbourne.

Victorian Ports Minister Tim Pallas has released the final report of a review of pilotage arrangements, along with a list of recommendations for commercial shipping safety.

The Review into Pilotage Arrangements in Victoria, which was announced last year, aims to appraise the effectiveness of the state’s statutory framework, pilot licensing, training arrangements and safety standards.

Mr Pallas said pilotage safety has become a paramount issue with the size of commercial ships getting bigger.

“Of the 82 commercial vessels involved in collisions and groundings in 2006-07, 30 per cent involved vessels greater than 150 metres in length. Of the 14 investigations undertaken by Marine Safety Victoria in this period, 11 involved ships under pilotage,” he said.

He said the review identified a need for a more comprehensive and integrated approach to safety.

“The safety of pilotage depends not only on the skill and safe practice of an individual marine pilot, but also effective operation of the entire marine safety system.

“Pilotage therefore needs to be considered in the context of the statutory framework governing pilotage waters and the practice of all parties responsible for marine safety and vessel operations,” Mr Pallas said.

In Victoria, the responsibility of regulating safety in commercial trading ports and shipping channels is shared by Marine Safety Victoria, port managers, channel operators, harbour masters and waterway managers. All vessel operators have safety obligations within this regulatory framework.

The key recommendations of the report include a tougher accreditation regime to evaluate operators’ capacity to meet risk management standards, strengthened chain of responsibility provisions with clearly defined roles for both safety regulators and industry participants, as well as the independence of the director of Marine Safety from Government and industry.

Based on the recommendations, the current Marine Act and Regulations will be amended within 12 months.

For more information on the Review into Pilotage Arrangements in Victoria visit the Marine Safety Victoria website, www.marinesafety.vic.gov.au.

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