June 2, 2022 | Circular No. 11444

Dear Member,

The development of the Marine Pilotage Regulations under the new Pilotage Act is further delayed as the pandemic, cruise resumption and Ukraine crisis have placed an unprecedented demand on Justice and Transport Canada resources. There is an urgent need however, to address a disconnect between the amended Pilotage Act and existing pilotage regulations regarding the authority to issue licenses and certificates. Transport Canada is proceeding with regulatory amendments consolidating the four regional marine pilotage regulations under the General Pilotage Regulations to align the Minister’s authority with the Act. These changes are administrative in nature but will allow Transport Canada to re-issue pilot licenses and certificates which all expire June 2022. Transport Canada continues to work on the more substantial issues such as the regulatory framework for management systems which is intended for Canada Gazette Part I by Winter 2023.

Belledune, Sheet Harbour & Argentia to Become Compulsory

With the above-mentioned changes to the Pilotage Act, where Transport Canada is now issuing pilot licenses and certificates, they have made it clear they will not issue licenses for the non-compulsory ports as the Pilotage Act covers compulsory pilotage areas only. The APA are the only region that issued licenses for non-compulsory areas, however as of June 8th, those licenses will expire and any navigational services provided are outside the scope of the act. The APA reviewed all options to continue providing navigational services including developing a new contract for users (liability/conduct) and had insurance quotes for coverage outside the Act. With little support from their pilots, Transport Canada or Justice Canada, the APA Board decided they would not pursue offering services in non-compulsory ports.

Transport Canada have advised the Federation they intend to issue an Interim Order that would transfer the ports of Belledune, Sheet Harbour, Argentia under the Pilotage Act and make them compulsory for a one-year period based on recommendations from recent PRMMs conducted by the APA. This would ensure the continuity of service in those ports, but also allow Transport Canada time to assess all other potential mitigation measures to circumvent making pilotage compulsory permanently.  Transport Canada will issue new licenses to all pilots in these ports and the services and tariffs will continue by provided by the APA as usual.  The specific changes for each port are:

  • Belledune – No change from the Belledune Port Authority’s mandatory pilotage requirement.  Belledune will formally become compulsory under the Interim Order
  • Sheet Harbour – Will become compulsory for vessels 170m and above and for all tankers
  • Argentia – Will extend the line to incorporate the port into the Placentia Bay Compulsory zone

Other Non-Compulsory Ports

As for the other non-compulsory ports, the APA will no longer be providing pilotage services in these ports such as Summerside.  There have been no recent risk assessments conducted and thus these ports will not be included in the Interim Orders.  Transport Canada did indicate they intend to conduct a full risk assessment of Summerside, and potentially other ports, in the future.

The interim orders are expected to be issued before June 8th and we will update members accordingly.

Please direct any questions to the undersigned.


Chad Allen

Director, Marine Operations