Pilots are facing increasing challenges such as growth in vessels size and ship traffic

test/EMPA.jpgEuropean marine pilots have warned that the recession-hit shipping industry should not be allowed to create commercial pressures that compromise the provision of pilotage services.

The annual general meeting of the European Maritime Pilots' Association (EMPA) heard that pilots are facing increasing challenges - including the growth in the size of many vessels and the intensification of ship traffic.

EMPA - which represents some 5,000 pilots in 25 European countries - stressed the importance of specialised knowledge of local conditions and operational practice, and skills in handling sea-going vessels in restricted waters.

Delegates at the conference heard a presentation from a German academic who explained how automation can degrade safety by making people more passive. The meeting agreed that while the importance of innovative navigation technology onboard ships is recognised, it should be seen as 'merely an aid to decision-making onboard'.

They also stressed the 'essential' need for close cooperation between pilots and vessel traffic services, but warned that 'the recruitment of highly skilled European maritime pilots will be a challenge for the years to come'.

The meeting also concluded that holders of a Pilot Exemption Certificate (PEC) cannot be equivalent to a pilot - noting that the criteria for obtaining these certificates differs between EU member states, and can also differ between ports within individual countries.

Source: Nautilus International