Coast Guard proposes increase in Great Lakes pilotage rates

The following is text of a news release from the American Great Lakes Ports Association (AGLPA):

(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Coast Guard has issued proposed rates for Great Lakes pilotage services during the upcoming 2019 shipping season. The Coast Guard sets rates annually for U.S. pilots on the Great Lakes through a federal rulemaking process. The full proposal was published in today's Federal Register and can be found here.

The Coast Guard is proposing to increase overall U.S. pilotage costs by 8.2 percent over 2018 estimated levels. According to the Coast Guard, additional funds are needed to train new pilots and provide an inflationary increase in operating expenses and pilot compensation. Specifically, the Coast Guard seeks to raise an additional $2,066,143 in revenue from vessel operators in 2019. During the 2018 navigation season, the Coast Guard estimated that $25.2 million in revenue would be needed to operate the three pilot associations. In 2019, they are proposing a total revenue of $27.2 million.

As a part of its annual rate-setting process, the Coast Guard sets a target compensation level for U.S. Great Lakes pilots. Currently, pilot target compensation is set at $352,000 for the nine-month shipping season. The new 2019 pilot compensation level will be $359,887, which represents a 2.1 inflationary adjustment from the current level.  

The cost of U.S. pilotage has been an issue of considerable controversy during the last four years. Since 2015 the overall cost of pilotage has increased more than 40 percent. The Coast Guard estimates that U.S. pilotage now constitutes 13 percent of overall voyage costs for ocean-going vessels operating on the Great Lakes.

By Professional Mariner Staff