Marine Pilotage Bill Gazetted

The Pilotage (Amendment) Bill 2013, which aims to amend the Pilotage Ordinance to meet the pilotage sector’s and shipping industry’s needs, will be gazetted on March 8, the Transport & Housing Bureau said today.

Pilotage is compulsory for all ships visiting Hong Kong with a gross tonnage of over 3,000, to ensure safe navigation of non-local vessels within Hong Kong waters.

Among the changes put forward in the bill is allowing a working pilot who has reached the age of 65 to retain the same class of licence he is holding until the statutory age limit of 68, upon passing examinations for physical and mental fitness and eyesight. Under existing legislation, such pilots would have their licences downgraded, permitting them to pilot only shorter vessels.

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The change would better utilise Class I pilots’ valuable experience and expertise in piloting large vessels and in training junior pilots, the bureau said.

The bill also proposes eliminating compulsory pilotage for ships with a gross tonnage of 1,000 to 3,000 that are proceeding to or from the container terminals, while using improved technology to track vessels’ speed and routing.

Other changes include adding a new member to the Pilotage Advisory Committee to represent local shipping agencies, and revising and updating some wharves’, berths’ and docks’ descriptions in relation to registered apprentice pilots’ training.

The bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on March 20.

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