Marine pilotage refers to navigating the vessels through the territorial waters and guiding them into the docking area on the pier or out of the ports. The marine pilotage is considered one of the oldest maritime professions. This profession presents several advantages, including maintaining the safety of the vessel and avoiding accidents between vessels, as well as the revenues in the State Treasury generated from the due fees for marine pilotage. However, it is not provided by the Qatari Maritime Law No. 15 of Year 1980, except in Article No. 186 stating as follows:
“Pilotage is compulsory in the State’s ports designated either by the law or by a decision issued by the competent minister. The relevant laws, decrees and decisions shall be applicable in relation to regulating the pilotage, identifying the pilotage areas, setting the original and additional charges due and establishing the criminal penalties.”
This profession is regulated by Law No. 21 of Year 1980 concerning the regulation of pilotage in Qatar’s ports. However, the law did not establish definitions of marine pilots who is a professional who performs pilotage tasks on the vessels in accordance with the norms and practices of marine pilotage, which requires having specific qualifications to practice marine pilotage. The qualifications needed for practicing such profession in Qatar’s ports are determined by decision of the Minister of Transport and Communications.
Regarding the marine pilot’s obligations, among the most significant tasks is to respond to pilotage requests, provide assistance to the vessels at risk, i.e. to immediately respond to the vessel which he is assigned to guide by Mwani Qatar “Qatar Ports Management Company”. In case he had to travel on board of the ship due to bad weather conditions or upon the Captain’s request, the amounts due to the pilot shall be determined by a decision issued by the Director of Qatar Ports Management Company.
With respect to the marine pilot’s responsibility and the responsibility on the Captain who breaches the marine pilotage provisions, it is not limited to civil liability, but it also includes criminal liability as Article 10 of the Law on the Regulation of Marine Pilotage states as follows:
“The law establishes a penal sanction on the ship captain who commits violations of the marine pilotage provisions; it provides for the penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding six months and a fine not less than Two Hundred Riyals and not exceeding One Thousand Riyals or either of these two penalties. The captain of any ship shall be subject to the pilotage provisions if he enters, navigates and gets out of any of the pilotage areas without the assistance of the marine pilot unless he is authorized by the Director of Qatar Ports Management Company to do so. Article No. 12 of the Law on the Regulation of Marine Pilotage provides for a criminal liability on each and every person who performs marine pilotage tasks if he is not entrusted with such task. “Any person who guides or attempts to guide a vessel and he is not authorized by Qatar Ports Management Company to do so according to the law shall be subject to the penalty of imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year and a fine not less than Two Thousand Riyals and not exceeding Twelve Thousand Riyals or either of these two penalties. In case of recidivism, he shall be sentenced to imprisonment for a term not less than three months and not exceeding two years.”