A Bahamian marine pilot company has expanded its services to Bimini after obtaining the necessary approvals from the Ministry of Transport and the Port Department.
“Marine pilots services are of the utmost importance as it pertains to maritime safety and the economic development of a nation,” explained Captain Kendall Williamson, IMS president. “Over 90 percent of global trade is conducted by sea.
“In addition to ensuring the safe navigation of our waters, the very nature of our work is to serve the Bahamian public, the Government of the Bahamas and the general shipping community in promoting sustained economic development.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is a clear example of how important a role the marine pilot plays in the maritime industry. Even as many businesses have been ordered closed, ships are still being allowed to transport goods for our country’s survival.”
IMS currently provides services in Harbour Island and Egg Island, Eleuthera; Exuma; Conception Island; Long Island; and San Salvador as well as Bimini/ Ocean Cay.
The company and its directors have also taken on advocacy work meant to facilitate the continued growth of the sector, and open doors for future generations of qualified Bahamian maritime industry professionals. The growing popularity of smaller Family Island destinations, they say, has increased the need for more fully-licensed marine pilots to operate.
“As a maritime country, we have the responsibility to ensure that the industry which allows foreign vessels to traverse Bahamian waters is properly regulated,” added Captain Williamson.
“Despite the growth we have seen over the years, the local maritime industry remains untouched, and the only way to move forward is to create an environment that is more structured and the creation of a set of minimum standards, which provides a firm foundation upon which the industry can be built.”
IMS said as many as six ports around The Bahamas operate without the inclusion and oversight of marine pilots. “For years now, our organisation has been calling for the creation of a set of minimum standards to which young maritime professionals can aspire,” Captain Williamson said, with IMS estimating that a minimum of 20 new marine pilots will be required to fill positions, especially in the Family Islands.
As the sector continues to develop, IMS greater enforcement of protocols already enshrined in law is required together with the modernisation of several aspects of Bahamian maritime laws.
“There definitely needs to be greater across-the-board enforcement,” added Captain Williamson. “Doing so not only gives credence to the work of marine pilots but offers a greater sense of legitimacy to the industry which, in turn, attracts even more qualified entrants into the profession.”