EMPA Conference 2011 Amsterdam 25th to 27th May


UKMPA attendees: Don Cockrill,  Peter Wylie, Mike Morris,   KevinValance, Gareth Rees


EMPA President: Jacques Saubon welcomed 80 delegates from 22 countries.

Key Topics

-EU Ports Review. This is yet a further reincarnation of the previously rejected Ports Directive under a different guise.

-PLA pilot’s ladder accident

-EU convention on port state control which details obligations on observed anomaly reports.

-E-maritime initiative

-EU PEC study.

-European Nautical Platform Partnership of which EMPA is a member.

-International Standard for Pilotage Organisations (ISPO): There are strong differences of opinion between the IMPA position and some EMPA member countries on ISPO. Whilst some have embraced ISPO others have integrated the principles into existing ISO standards to include pilotage. IMPA president Mike Watson detailed IMPA’s concerns regarding the potential adverse effect of ISPO on pilotage world-wide.

-Pilot Ladder Survey: Peter Wylie provided a detailed analysis.

-ECDIS: Kevin Valance gave a well received presentation on ECDIS issues

-AZIPILOT: Gareth Rees gave another fascinating presentation updating delegates on the latest developments of this project.

-Competition in Pilotage: The Danish, Finnish and Romanian delegations explained the problems each is having to deal with. The Romanian situation is described as being “unable to deteriorate further”! (On Day 2 a senior representative from the International Group of P&I clubs (IGPI)  stated that there is good evidence to suggest a direct link between increased accidents and competition in pilotage. He cited Argentina as a good example).

Day 2

This was a half day session with the church re-seated in amphitheater style. A panel of port users comprising a (UK) ship manager, the IGPI clubs representative mentioned above, A VOPAK agent, A ship owner, a Stolt Nielsen Operations Manager and a ShipMaster representing the Confederation of European Shipmasters’ Associations (CESMA).

The session was moderated by a Dutch TV chat show host and delegates were equipped with an instant electronic yes/no voting system. Through the morning, a series of questions on aspects of pilotage were posed and answered by the delegates. The results were then discussed with, sometimes controversial input from panel members.

There is apparently significant funding available from EU sources for professional training which of course includes pilots. I am researching more detail on this.


Day 3


The day started with the Council of Presidents meeting.  Outcomes were:

-Agreement on the proposed new EMPA charter

-A research study into the future of EMPA :

-Relocation to Brussels?

-Employ a Full time Secretary General?

-Election procedures.

The previous day’s “Round Forum” session and its effectiveness was analysed. Was it a successful session? – for some yes but for others (including some of this report’s authors) there are doubts over the full effectiveness with such a multi-cultural, multi-lingual audience. Some of the questions had been ambiguous and could possibly be interpreted as being weighted against existing pilotage practice.

Further sessions included the following:

-An EU study into pilotage due to be completed next year.

European Maritime day

-The European Maritime Industries Forum

The European Nautical platform

The Horizon Project

Pilots and Vessel Traffic Management (VTM): This was perhaps the most “interesting” of the sessions in that it was very Netherlands centric and consisted of a number of presentations from various Dutch port technical managers and pilots on various aspects of VTM. The end result was a clear understanding that the Dutch perspective appears to put the commercial “customer” above all else. MATCH is the new acronym for VTM and is concerned with the total integration of various aspects of port operations, including pilotage, and Rotterdam in particular firmly believes in this concept and will continue with it.

E-navigation See Kevin Vallance’s report on page 9)

The afternoon closed session included the Financial Report, following which a subscription increase was approved.

Board Elections: Unfortunately, Mike Morris’s application was unsuccessful.

A presentation on the deplorable situation in Romania requesting EMPA support in the form of a formal letter to the Romanian Authorities was agreed.

The 2012 AGM is to be held in Antwerp. Dates to be confirmed.

Don Cockrill


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