Extension of pilotage to Torres Strait

Australia and Papua New Guinea have proposed the extension of the current associated protective measure of pilotage within the Great Barrier Reef to include the Torres Strait (the current system of pilotage of the Great Barrier Reef is included in resolution MEPC.45(30)).

INTERTANKO has raised its concerns at previous IMO sessions regarding the compulsory pilotage proposals for the Torres Strait. We previously questioned the legality of compulsory pilotage in international waters under UNCLOS, and also raised questions regarding the periods of work and rest required to be undertaken by the pilots on these long pilotages. We are pleased to advise that it has been agreed at this session that the Marine Environmental Protection Committee (MEPC) resolution will read:

"RECOMMENDS" that governments recognise the need for effective protection of the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait and inform ships flying their flags that they should act in accordance with Australia's system of pilotage for merchant ships 70m in length and over or oil tankers, chemical tankers and gas carriers irrespective of size when navigating the inner route of the Great Barrier Reef and the Torres Strait and great north east channel; between Booby Island and Bramble bay.

It was agreed that the changes would be incorporated into a new MEPC 53 Resolution.

Contact: Howard Snaith