Categorized | National News

Grand Bahama Pilots Get International Backing

An International Marine Pilots official publicly criticised The Bahamas over the handling of marine pilots in Grand Bahama who recently resigned from their posts due to a number of safety concerns at the harbour and in order to form an independent body.

The pilots who are members of The Bahamas Marine Pilots Association (BMPA) have sought to form a private company meant to offer piloting services, however, the association has accused the Grand Bahama Port Authority (GBPA) of attempting to block them from doing so because of the GBPA’s interest in the Freeport Harbour Company.

During the annual International Marine Pilots Association (IMPA) Congress taking place this week in Panama, Nick Cutmore, secretary general of the body, cited the concerns of the BMPA and highlighted perceived hypocrisies of the GBPA.

He recalled an accident that occurred in waters off Canada involving a Bahamian vessel and how the incident was met with swift action on the part of the GBPA to ensure that safety measures were in place so that the country’s maritime industry would be in line with international standards.

But he questioned why the pilots’ efforts to adhere to international guidelines are being met with such resistance.

“Imagine my surprise then two weeks ago to find in The Bahamas’ own backyard so far as pilotage is concerned dismal standards, no oversight, commercial expediency, a long list of accidents and just plain stupidity,” Mr. Cutmore said.

“The pilots there are trying to form themselves into one cohesive group and shake off the sloppiness of big oil and corporate thinking. They are struggling and they have all resigned their posts to press the issue. I’d like you to think about that as a staggering leap of faith.”

The situation with Bahamian pilots, he told the congress, has implications for the entire industry.

“The further up you go, the less palatable is the behaviour and the practices of some of those involved. For those of you fighting competition and other anti-pilot measures this is not a clean battle between right and wrong and you cannot win by being good at your job or putting forward rational arguments,” said Mr. Cutmore.

“What if The Bahamas had won an IMO in 2011, what would they have said about the rules in their own backyard? Clearly nothing,” he said. “So what prompted to put the issue forward?”

The GBPA has repeatedly refuted the pilots’ claims and insists that it continues to work to ensure that the harbours are safe and that working conditions are safe as well.

The pilots’ resignations took effect March 28.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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