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Responsibility for the delivery of pilotage services in Queensland ports was transferred from Maritime Safety Queensland to port authorities, effective from 2 November 2013.

MSQ, as the state maritime regulator, requires that port pilotage services be delivered in a safe manner that promotes Maritime Safety Queensland’s Key Outcomes of:

  • safety of vessel movements
  • protection of the marine environment from ship-sourced pollution.

To this end, Maritime Safety Queensland has a range of requirements and expectations, against which pilotage service deliverers will be assessed by the relevant Regional Harbour Master on an annual basis.

To assist port authorities in meeting their regulatory obligations, Maritime Safety Queensland has developed an operational policy framework as the pilotage regulator.

This framework indicates Maritime Safety Queensland’s roles and responsibilities and its expectations of pilotage service providers pertaining to certain safety requirements, against which the annual assessments will be conducted.

Details of Maritime Safety Queensland’s policy position are provided through the links below:

Pilotage entities

The Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994 specifies that a regulation may prescribe an entity as the responsible pilotage entity for a compulsory pilotage area. The responsible pilotage entity has the function of providing, or arranging for the provision of, pilotage services in its compulsory pilotage area. The regulation prescribing this (the Transport Legislation Amendment Regulation (No. 2) 2013) will insert a new schedule into the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 (PDF, 1.11 MB) to stipulate responsible pilotage entities for each compulsory pilotage area.

Maritime Safety Queensland retained responsibility for pilotage services in the compulsory pilotage areas of Brisbane, Southport and Abbot Point. Maritime Safety Queensland has entered into an agreement with Port of Townsville Limited to deliver pilotage services in Abbot Point. The port of Brisbane pilotage services will still be provided under contract by Brisbane Marine Pilots Pty Ltd. Responsibility in other areas for pilotage services has been devolved to port authorities. The below table outlines the entities responsible for which compulsory pilotage areas.

Compulsory pilotage area Responsible pilotage entity
Southport Maritime Safety Queensland
Brisbane Maritime Safety Queensland
Bundaberg Gladstone Ports Corporation
Gladstone Gladstone Ports Corporation
Rockhampton Gladstone Ports Corporation
Hay Point North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation
Mackay North Queensland Bulk Ports Corporation
Abbot Point Maritime Safety Queensland
Townsville Port of Townsville Limited
Lucinda Port of Townsville Limited
Mourilyan Far North Queensland Ports Corporation
Cairns Far North Queensland Ports Corporation
Cape Flattery Far North Queensland Ports Corporation
Skardon River Far North Queensland Ports Corporation
Thursday Island Far North Queensland Ports Corporation
Weipa Far North Queensland Ports Corporation
Amrun RTA Weipa Pty Ltd ACN 137 266 285 
Karumba Far North Queensland Ports Corporation

All ships that are 50m or more proceeding within a Queensland compulsory pilotage area must either carry a licensed marine pilot or be under the command of a master who holds a Pilotage Exemption Certificate for the area.

Maritime Safety Queensland may grant a master an exemption from pilotage within a declared Queensland compulsory pilotage area. An exemption from pilotage will only be endorsed for the master for a particular ship, or class of ship, for a particular declared compulsory pilotage area, or part thereof. Exemptions are not available for offshore berths in Queensland.

Below are guidelines to assist applicants for marine pilot licences and exemption from pilotage and the application form that needs to be completed when seeking a marine pilotage qualification.

Further information about the award of marine pilot licences and exemption from pilotage is available from Maritime Safety Queensland regional offices.

Special conditions in the compulsory pilotage areas of Southport, Mackay, Cairns, Cooktown, Port Douglas, Karumba and Thursday Island
Special conditions may apply in the compulsory pilotage areas of Southport, Mackay, Cairns, Cooktown, Port Douglas, Karumba and Thursday Island for ships less than 50m in length. These conditions may be applied to ship movements in specific locations within these compulsory pilotage areas, namely marinas and channels with restrictive depths or widths. If applicable, they will be determined by the Regional Harbour Master and provided at the time of the initial notification of arrival. Read this document for more information about Southport pilotage area conditions. For further information contact Maritime Safety Queensland regional offices at the Gold Coast, Mackay or Cairns.

Last updated
28 March 2017