Yesterday, ExCo approved the decision to develop a fully functioning, effective and safe pilotage service for the Falkland Islands. This will be supported by changes to the existing Harbour and Ports Ordinance 2017, in order to provide the necessary framework for this service to be delivered. The implementation of the service is vital to deliver improved vessel safety, particularly within the confines of Stanley Harbour and its approaches.

As there is currently no operating budget for the provision of pilotage or any inhouse FIMA staff resource to deliver this service, ExCo also agreed that the government should seek a private operator to run the service on a contractual basis, which would be regulated to ensure fair pricing to customers.

Since September 2019, when FIPASS was damaged in a shipping accident, a temporary and compulsory pilotage direction has been in place for all vessels berthing alongside the facility. However, this temporary measure does not meet the requirements for a full pilotage service and a compulsory direction as set out in the current Harbour and Ports Ordinance. Therefore, ExCo has agreed for additional provisions to be included in part 5 of the Ordinance to support the establishment of a pilotage service; this will include clarity on the rights and authority of pilots, limitation of liability, additional detail on pilot misconduct and FIMA’s ability to charge for pilotage services.
Alongside this, a new Harbour Revision Order will be drafted to designate an expanded port area, this will ensure that all high-traffic areas are included and give FIMA provision to manage the risk of incidents in these areas. This does not mandate compulsory pilotage throughout the entire harbour area. Overall, these amendments will provide the necessary framework to enable FIMA to uphold its international statutory duties.

MLA Leona Roberts, Portfolio Lead for FIMA, said: “It has taken a great deal of work to get to this point and I would like to thank the many stakeholders who engaged with us and shared their views on a workable solution for vessels across a range of sectors, including fishing and tourism. We have a thriving nautical environment, but central to this is ensuring safety of life at sea, minimising the risk of pollution from vessels and providing more effective security. As a seafaring nation we have made great strides in recent years and this is one step further in meeting our maritime responsibilities, and in ensuring that Falkland Islands waters are safer than they ever have been before.”