The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority (GLPA) issued more than 500 pilot certificates as part of a new oversight program to formally ensure Canadian domestic captains and deck watch officers have the requisite local knowledge and experience to navigate the Great Lakes-Seaway system.
All foreign-owned ships travelling into the St. Lawrence Seaway and the Great Lakes are required by law to have a government-licensed Canadian pilot board their vessel to assist the crew with navigation. Pilots are expert navigators who are familiar with local geography, weather, currents and sailing conditions. The pilot's expertise supplements the captain's expertise to ensure safe navigation.
Canadian-owned Great Lakes vessels were previously not required to take a pilot provided Canadian crew members met the stringent requirements of section 12 of the Great Lakes Pilotage Regulations such as licensing, local navigation knowledge and emergency maneuvers.
Following a series of consultation meetings with Transport Canada Marine Safety, Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association, Canadian Shipowners Association, Canadian Merchant Service Guild, Chamber of Marine Commerce and the Shipping Federation of Canada new regulations came into force July 1, 2011. These new Regulations now require all domestic officers wishing to navigate the compulsory pilotage areas in the Great Lakes region to formally be issued a pilotage certificate by the GLPA.
During a transition period that ended December 31, 2012, the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority met with shipowners to ensure through a review process that current navigation crew passed all licensing, training and trip experience requirements to issue the 500 pilot certificates in recent weeks. Following this transition period, all new Canadian officers wishing to navigate pilot compulsory areas will have to successfully complete the Great Lakes Marine Pilotage Certificate Training Program or pass a written and oral exam administered by the GLPA.
Robert Lemire, Chief Executive Officer of the Great Lakes Pilotage Authority, said, “Canadian domestic crews are highly trained and are licensed by government authorities to ensure competency. Over the years, their safety record has been as exemplary as those vessels with pilots on board. The GLPA, the government and the marine shipping industry have worked closely together to now put in place a formal pilot certification process that demonstrates this competence in a more transparent manner. This measure will give the public further confidence that the highest standards of safety are being achieved.”
The Great Lakes Pilotage Authority is a Crown Corporation that is responsible for a safe and efficient pilotage service within Canadian waters in the province of Quebec, south of the northern entrance to the St. Lambert Lock of the St. Lawrence Seaway, and in and around the provinces of Ontario and Manitoba.