Pilot has the con - Canadian Ports

Whilst we currently have no managed yachts operating in Canada, we were recently involved with a claim for grounding damage suffered by a commercial vessel under pilotage, which reminds us that there is a unique legal position for pilots in Canadian waters.

Just for interest……

CMPA Advisory -
Role and Responsibility of Pilots in Canada
The Canadian Marine Pilots' Association notes there is some uncertainty regarding the role and extent of responsibility of pilots during the course of their duties, particularly during the berthing and unberthing operations of cruise ships. Since a failure to perform statutory duties can expose CMPA members to liability, the following offers clarification so as to minimize this possibility.

The Pilotage Act clearly sets out the role and responsibility of pilots.The Act states that no person other than a licensed pilot (or the holder of a pilotage certificate) may have the conduct of a ship in a compulsory pilotage area (Sub-section 25 (1)). Hence, pursuant to the Act, in a compulsory pilotage area, a pilot must have the conduct of the ship at all times. This also applies to berthing or unberthing operations.

The only situation where a master can legally take the conduct away from a pilot is if he has reasonable grounds to believe that the pilot's actions are endangering the safety of his ship (Sub-section 26 (1)). In this case, the master must file a report with the pilotage authority setting out his reasons within three days (Sub-section 26 (2)).
With the exception of the specific situation described above, pilots are required to fulfill their statutory duties at all times. During berthing and unberthing operations, this means that if the master is handling the vessel, he can only do so under the conduct of the pilot and as per his directions.

It has been suggested that the expression “to have the conduct” should be distinguished from the expression “to have the con”. Under this assumption, the master would have the con and the pilot the conduct.Such proposal is unsubstantiated as there is no difference between the two expressions. Both suggest the same idea - that is to direct the movement of the ship - and refer to a duty that is reserved and entrusted to pilots in compulsory pilotage areas. Consequently, any suggestion that the master “has the con” while the pilot maintains “the conduct” is invalid.

To avoid liability, the CMPA recommends that its members not hand over conduct of the vessel to any other person or act in a manner that could suggest or lead someone to believe that they have handed over the conduct. Pilots should exercise due diligence and fully discharge their duties at all times to ensure the safe navigation of the vessel they guide.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions or additional comments.