Pilotage Act reform aims to ensure maritime safety in Finnish waters

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 23.3.2023 14.43 | Published in English on 29.3.2023 at 13.36
Press release
Two orange pilot ships at a dock
Pilot ships at a dock. (Image: Ministry of Transport and Communications)

On 23 March 2023, the President of the Republic approved the new Pilotage Act. The aim of the Act is to ensure maritime safety in Finnish waters.

The new Act lays down more precise and equitable provisions on the pilotage obligation and exemption from it. In addition, it improves the opportunities of the competent authority to ensure that pilots and persons exempt from the pilotage obligation possess the required skills and competence.

In the future, all ships of at least 50 metres in length are, as a rule, subject to the pilotage obligation when navigating in the pilotage area of Finland. On the main routes used by merchant vessels, the definition for when the use of a pilot is obligatory is set by a regulation of the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.

In accordance with the reform, the competence of the maritime operators has to be better verified than before. The current exemptions, including the Pilotage Exemption Certificates, will be replaced by route and region-specific licences exempting from the pilotage obligation.

The reform specifies the right of the pilotage company to refuse or abort pilotage missions. The Act also imposes new obligations on pilotage companies in relation to the provision of pilotage services, the company’s preparedness for emergencies and the national security of its operations.

The reformed Act specifies the sanction procedures, too. The liability of the pilot and other personnel in the pilotage company for their acts in office are specified, and Traficom is given the opportunity to intervene in misconduct by imposing a penalty payment.

The new Act includes a provision on the criteria for compensating the loss of income incurred to the pilotage company. The provision ensures pilotage activities in the Saimaa Canal and elsewhere in Saimaa waterways also in emergency situations.

Parliament requires that the Government closely and on a broad basis monitor how the reform affects the continuity of maritime transport and, if needed, take measures to ensure navigation activities as well as competitiveness.

What’s next?

The new Pilotage Act will enter into force on 1 September 2023.

Inquiries: Tiina Ranne, Senior Ministerial Adviser, tiina.ranne[at]gov.fi, tel. +358 50 478 6770