The administrator’s report of possibilities for pilotage in the Saimaa waterway

Ministry of Transport and Communications
Publication date 17.5.2013 10.34
Press release

Pilotage services in the Saimaa Canal are well-functioning, but very costly. The inquiry into pilotage in the Saimaa Canal found that reorganisation of pilotage is a necessity, in order to contain the costs of and develop pilotage operations.

Pilotage services and the safety of vessel traffic are good in the Saimaa Canal. However, although the efficiency of pilotage services has been improved, their price has remained high. The price of these services is influenced by factors such as the strong fluctuation in the volume of traffic in the Saimaa Canal and the difficulty of predicting traffic volumes.

Four procedures for developing pilotage services

The report recommends that the authority responsible for pilotage should determine the volume of state-subsidised pilotage available in the Saimaa Canal. The available service should be determined for one traffic season at a time and include the routes and the volume of traffic piloted in a given time.

In practice, this would mean that the volume of available pilotage services would be in accordance with the amount determined in the service standard. If the number of piloted trips for the span of one day has already been reached, the pilotage of any left vessels would be postponed until the following day. This would facilitate the even distribution of piloted trips per day and per work shift. On the other hand, the spots where pilots switch places and organisation of switches should be the responsibility of the service provider.

Additionally, closer cooperation is necessary with regard to pilot transport in order to cut down the costs that come about from providing pilotage services. Two state-owned pilotage companies operate in the Saimaa area. Meritaito Ltd and Finnpilot Pilotage Ltd both have service point networks and provide transport services in the Saimaa waterway.

The report also recommends that the possibilities provided by new navigation technology be utilised in the development of the Saimaa Vessel Traffic Service. This in turn, would make it possible to relax the requirement for compulsory pilotage.

With regard to the Saimaa Canal the report recommends that the compulsory use of pilots be relaxed. A number of possibilities should be further investigated, including the possibility of dispensing of compulsory pilotage in the Saimaa Canal, if certain predetermined conditions are fulfilled in advance. Also, the possibility of compiling an English language Pilotage Exemption Certificate for the Saimaa Waterway should be explored. However, relaxation of compulsory pilotage services will require development of the canal's control system, so that this does not pose a risk to vessel traffic.

Decisions for next year

Decisions on the development of the Saimaa Canal's pilotage services should be made in the coming months, so that any possible changes can be instated from the beginning of the 2014 traffic season. This demanding timetable is based on the Pilotage Act, which specifies that the price of pilotage shall be negotiated on with customers before the end of June the previous year.

On 10 December 2012, Permanent Secretary Harri Pursiainen named Head of Office Seppo Kykkänen as the head of an inquiry into the possibility of developing pilotage in the Saimaa waterway and the cost structure of pilotage. Mr Kykkänen's task was to investigate possible development areas that could be used to improve the cost effectiveness of pilotage services without posing a risk to vessel traffic safety. Additionally, the report was to address the service standard promise for pilotage services.

Saimaan vesistöalueen luotsauksen kustannusrakenne ja kehittämismahdollisuudet. Selvitysmiehen raportti. (Cost structure and development possibilities for pilotage in the Saimaa waterway. The administrator's report. Ministry of Transport and Communications publications 17/2013) can be read in Finnish on the Ministry of Transport and Communications website at

Further information

Mr Seppo Kykkänen, Head of Office, tel. 0295 34 2580, 040 015 2868
Mr Mikael Nyberg, Director of Unit, tel. 0295 34 2474, 040 837 8794