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Pilotage Exemption Certificates

Use of a pilot is compulsory in many territorial waters. A pilot is familiar with the local waters and special conditions and can therefore guide ships through congested or dangerous areas. The pilot acts as an advisor, as the master remains in legal, overriding command of the vessel.

In most Member States legislation provides the possibility of some form of exemption from pilotage, either in the form of exemptions in the regulations for compulsory pilotage or in the form of issue of Pilotage Exemption Certificates (PEC). A Pilotage Exemption Certificate may be granted to the vessel’s master, or mate, when they fulfill certain criteria showing a capacity to safely manage his vessel in the waters in question. Normally the pilotage exemption is valid only for the specified vessel and route.

The Commission Communication and action plan with a view to establishing a European maritime transport space without barriers  invited Member States to create a regulatory framework which would permit easier pilotage exemptions. This communication specified that the conditions required for obtaining a PEC should be reasonable and should not contain elements of protectionism. This could induce lower costs for Short Sea Shipping operators and faster turnaround times of vessels in ports. The action required to put this recommendation into effect will need to be taken at national level and coordinated among national authorities.

Furthermore, during the adoption of the Directive on reporting formalities for ships arriving and departing from ports of the Member states (2010/65/EU),the European Parliament, the Council and the Commission agreed on a joint statement to examine a clear framework on granting Pilotate Exemption Certificates. It was agreed that the Commission will examine this issue in co-operation with the interested parties and in consideration of the importance of safety at sea and the protection of the marine environment.

On 4 March 2011, the Commission held a consultation meeting to discuss which elements should be included in the external study on the Pilotage Exemption Certificates. The consultations for the study took place during the first half of 2012 and the study was published in October 2012.