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Pilotage Requirements
Pilotage is compulsory for foreign-registered ships of 35 metres or more, and for Australian-registered ships of 50 metres or more unless the Master holds an exemption in most ports in Australia. Proposed movements into, within and out of pilotage areas are to be reported to the Regional Harbour Master by the Ship’s Master. 

Exemptions have been gazetted for all foreign flagged vessels, (including superyachts) up to 50 metres in length, navigating within various regions of Australia. Applications for non piloted movement of vessels under the exemption are based on an assessment of the capabilities of the vessel, the experience of the Master and his knowledge of the port and should be made to the Regional Harbour Master in the appropriate port.

The Australian Government has declared compulsory pilotage areas for the Inner Route between about Cairns (latitude 16° 40’S) and Cape York (latitude 10° 41’S) and for Hydrographers Passage. All vessels of 70 metres or more in length use the services of a pilot licensed by the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA).

In 2005, the International Maritime Organization approved Australia’s proposal to extend the system of pilotage within the Great Barrier Reef to the Torres Strait (IMO Resolution MEPC.133(53)) meaning that all vessels (irrespective of draught) of 70 metres or more in overall length must have a pilot on board when transiting through Torres Strait Pilotage Area B bound by the longitudes 142º 05’ E and 143º 24’ E. Further information is available at:

The Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) also strongly recommends the use of a licensed pilot by Masters unfamiliar with other areas of the Inner Route or the reef entrances of Palm Passage and Grafton Passage.