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Interactions between piloted vessels and fishing vessels—advisory note

This advisory note reminds pilots about risks and obligations when interacting with vessels engaged in fishing, in coastal pilotage areas.

Vessel interactions 

Historical near-misses between piloted vessels and fishing vessels underscore the importance of keeping a proper lookout and effective communication between vessels. 

Notwithstanding the responsibilities of fishing vessels, pilots should be cognisant that the final arbiter to determine appropriate action in near miss situations are The International Regulations for Preventing Collisions At Sea, 1972 (COLREGs), which are given effect through a combination of State, Northern Territory and Commonwealth laws. 

It is also a condition of a pilot licence that when piloting a vessel, the pilot ensures that the vessel is operated in accordance with COLREGs. 

Pilots are reminded of the obligations under Rule 18 (Responsibilities Between Vessels) as follows:

  • Except where Rule 9 (Narrow Channels), Rule 10 (Traffic Separation Schemes) and Rule 13 (Overtaking) otherwise require, a power-driven vessel underway, shall keep out of the way of:
    • (i) a vessel not under command
    • (ii) a vessel restricted in her ability to manoeuvre
    • (iii) a vessel engaged in fishing
    • (iv) a sailing vessel.

Vessels exhibiting the lights / shapes for a vessel engaged in fishing are to be treated as such, regardless of whether it can be determined that the vessel is actually engaged in fishing, or otherwise. 

REEFVTS Support 

Pilots are also reminded that the Great Barrier Reef and Torres Strait Vessel Traffic Service (REEFVTS) can be contacted via VHF radio to assist with the identification of individual fishing vessels. 

REEFVTS have access to Fisheries Queensland‘s ‘Vessel Monitoring System’ (VMS) which can be used to monitor and assess the position and activity of commercial fishing vessels fitted with an active VMS transmitter.

Last updated: 21 September 2020