Canada's shipping industry urges government to introduce pilotage reform
McKeil Marine's Evans Spirit won the International Bulk Journal's 2016 Ship of the Year Award during the IBJ's Salute to Excellence in the Maritime Bulk Industry gala awards ceremony in London, UK on November 21.
"It's a fantastic way to closeout our 60th anniversary year: having a vessel named after our founder, Evans McKeil, win this prestigious international award," said Steve Fletcher, President and CEO of McKeil Marine.
Acquired by McKeil in 2015, the Evans Spirit is a cargo ship with the shallow draught characters of a tug and barge; however, compared to a tug-and-barge unit, she can transport approximately 40 per cent more cargo about 50 per cent faster on a very similar amount of fuel. She is in service throughout the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.
Evans Spirit was shortlisted for 2016 Ship of the Year competing with three other vessels: CS Bright, Mitsui OSK Lines, Japan; Damen Shipyards, Netherlands; and MN Baroque, Swiss Marine, Switzerland. The award is presented to the owner, operator or builder of an outstanding individual bulk ship. Judged on operational efficiency, design innovation, safety and environmental protection, the Evans Spirit was selected as winner. (Photo Paul Beesley).
Marine shipping executives on Oct. 17 urged the swift introduction of new legislation to modernize mandatory pilotage services when they met with Canadian federal government officials during Marine Day events on Parliament Hill, organized by the Chamber of Marine Commerce (CMC).
This year's Marine Day on the Hill emphasized the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Waterway - Our national trade and transportation corridor. The day of meetings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa culminated with a reception for stakeholders, MPs and Senators, featuring Transport Minister Marc Garneau as a speaker as well as a multi-party panel discussion with Liberal MP Vance Badawey, NDP MP Brian Masse and Conservative MP Kelly Block.
Pilotage reform and infrastructure funding were key topics of discussion during the day. The federal government recently carried out a thorough Pilotage Act review and consultation process.
"Canada's pilotage system has not been overhauled in more than 40 years and is inefficient, inflexible, out-of-date and desperately needs to be modernized," asserted Bruce Burrows, President of the Chamber of Marine Commerce (see photo). "We urge the Minister of Transport to now move forward to introduce legislation that promotes safety and provides greater transparency and oversight of pilotage services while making the best use of proven and modern technology. The Pilotage Review Chair has made a series of recommendations that would achieve these goals while still maintaining the highest levels of safety and reliability."
In Canada, once a vessel is in a compulsory pilotage area, under law, the vessel is obliged to have a Canadian pilot aboard to guide its transit through the waterway.
Managed by federal Crown corporations, pilotage represents a significant cost to users. Pilotage costs have a long history of increasing at rates that far exceed the rate of inflation, according to the CMC. Just in the past five years, fees, salaries and benefits paid to licensed pilots have increased 3.4 times more than CPI. For example, on the St. Lawrence River, the hourly cost of pilotage exceeds the cost of the entire crew of a vessel, or more than double the cost of a vessel's captain, the CMC stated.
Allister Paterson, CMC chair of the Chamber and Chief Operating Officer of CSL Group, added: "One of our key goals from the meetings was to emphasize the importance of continued infrastructure investment in ports, locks, and intermodal connections to facilitate growth. With the entire Great Lakes-St. Lawrence waterway system at 50 per cent capacity, and with St. Lawrence Seaway cargo volumes up 9 per cent last year, and 4 per cent so far this year, we have a great opportunity to build on this new momentum and increase the amount of goods moving by marine to relieve congestion on highways and decrease carbon emissions."