Il messaggio del Presidente dell'IMPA, Capt. Simon Pelletier, ai piloti italiani
We have all been operating in difficult conditions since last year. But pilots worldwide have kept vital supply chains open, and our good work has been noticed by many, including IMO Secretary- General Kitack Lim who wrote to IMPA to convey his appreciation for our efforts. This excellent work is the first line of defense of our profession. Pilots and seafarers have been especially exposed to the risks of Covid-19. Travel restrictions around the world have often trapped crews onboard, making it difficult for them to get medical attention. This is why UN agencies, including IMO, have strongly encouraged governments to take urgent action, and have called on them to prioritize vaccination for seafarers. Unfortunately, results have been mixed. Seafarers continue to operate in difficult conditions, and the prioritization of vaccination for pilots has varied greatly, from country to country.
For me, the pandemic has meant piloting full-time, on the St. Lawrence, while managing the affairs of both IMPA and the Canadian Marine Pilots’ Association. With IMPA, one issue in particular has been on my mind, one that is especially important to me – the personal safety of pilots during operations. IMPA has devoted significant resources over time to review pilot transfer practices, develop guidance, and make representations internationally, especially on issues related to pilot ladders. But when colleagues lose their lives in the context of their work, as was the case over the last couple of years with the tragic passing of two pilots in the Port of New York and one in Lisbon, I feel like a part of me has gone with them. In all cases, the use made of pilot boats did not help. A pilot boat should keep you safe. But questions regarding the position of pilot boats during transfers have not been studied systematically. It is with this in mind that a special IMPA Working Group was established. The Working Group is reviewing international practices regarding the position of pilot boats when pilots board and disembark, and the rationale for these practices. The Group will identify studies conducted by pilots and others. It will gather data regarding incidents, and assess the extent to which risks can be associated with various practices. The Group will report to IMPA’s Executive Committee within the next year and present recommendations to mitigate risks. Another initiative is the development of a live database, hosted on a new IMPA website accessible to Members, allowing them to input and track information related to vessels’ boarding arrangements and other relevant safety and operational matters. We are in the process of concluding an agreement with a credible partner for the database, and we hope that this global vessel information system will enhance the safety of everyone. The Association has also had meetings with Moller-Maersk on trapdoor arrangements with the objective of ensuring adherence to best international practices.
Revision of the International Chamber of Shipping’s Bridge Guide Procedures
Another matter is the revision of the International Chamber of Shipping’s Bridge Procedures Guide, present on about 85% of the global fleet. I have been part of an ICS working group to review the Guide, and we made many changes related to pilotage but one, in particular, was more complex. Until now, the Guide described the duties of pilots as “giving advice to the master”. This contradicts many legislations where pilots are responsible for conducting vessels; and, in practice, it is also inaccurate where pilots are described as “advisors” by national legislations. An advice is a recommendation given to help an individual make a decision. The adviser doesn’t make decisions – the recipient of the recommendation does. But, frankly, is it really what happens when a pilot is piloting? When governments designate bodies of water as pilotage areas, so as to protect the environment, trade and the public, does this government really only mean to say that the directions provided by the expert is only advice that can be dismissed? I don’t think so. I convinced the ICS to move away from the conduct vs advisor duality, and instead focus on the essence of piloting. We finally agreed that the Guide would now state, and I quote, that “pilots direct the navigation of the ship, supported by the Bridge Team”. I think there is value in this new description because it clarifies the authority every pilot has on the bridge of vessels.
A word about IMO. The Organization has moved to virtual meetings, and it is expected to remain this way until at least July. IMPA has remained actively engaged in discussions and, in particular, the issue of Maritime Autonomous Surface Ships. I could tell you more about what I think of this issue but, if you read my message in the next issue of IMPA’s newsletter, you will see! In closing, let me underline that two of our Brazilian colleagues, Pilots Teixeira and Abreu, are the recipients of IMO’s 2020 Exceptional Bravery Awards, and their extraordinary conduct in the face of adversity was recently celebrated by IMO.
Finally, at this time, IMPA intends to proceed with its Conference in Cancun from November 7- 13. We are hopeful that, by then, global conditions will have improved as a result of vaccination, and that we will be in a position to enjoy the great comradeship for which pilots are known. The formal program of the event is promising and further information on the event will regularly be posted on the event’s website. This completes my remarks and I wish a very successful event and assembly.
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