Pilotage Requirements

Pilotage is compulsory for foreign-registered ships of 35 metres or more, and for Australian-registered ships of 50 metres or more unless the Master holds an exemption in most ports in Australia. Proposed movements into, within and out of pilotage areas are to be reported to the Regional Harbour Master by the Ship’s Master.

Exemptions have been gazetted for all foreign flagged vessels, (including superyachts) up to 50 metres in length, navigating within various regions of Australia. Applications for non piloted movement of vessels under the exemption are based on an assessment of the capabilities of the vessel, the experience of the Master and his knowledge of the port and should be made to the Regional Harbour Master in the appropriate port.

The Australian Government has declared compulsory pilotage areas for the Inner Route between about Cairns (latitude 16° 40’S) and Cape York (latitude 10° 41’S) and for Hydrographers Passage. All vessels of 70 metres or more in length use the services of a pilot licensed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

The International Marine Organisation (IMO) has recommended under Resolution A710 (17) that vessels of 70 metres and over in length, irrespective of size, use the pilotage services licensed under Australian Commonwealth State or Territory law, when navigating the Torres Strait and the Great North East Channel. Australia strongly endorses this Resolution. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) also strongly recommends the use of a licensed pilot by Masters unfamiliar with other areas of the Inner Route or the reef entrances of Palm Passage and Grafton Passage.