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Pride of Baltimore Two
Chesapeake Bay Bridge Sunset by Ken Garove

Crab cakes, rockfish, world-class sailing, the United States Naval Academy are just a few of the many examples of the richness of life in the “land of pleasant living”—a life sustained by Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay! The Bay is also an important medium for world commerce. International cargo ships connect Baltimore to all points on the globe. The responsibility to govern and administer the laws that ensure safe and reliable pilotage in the Chesapeake Bay comes as a result of this commerce. Not only do these laws protect the vessels in transit and the bay’s waters, but they also are responsible for protecting the bay from acts of terror.

Enforcing the Law

The Maryland State Government and the Association of Maryland Pilots work together to ensure the laws of the Maryland General Assembly that protect the Chesapeake Bay are enforced. The Governor appoints residents of Maryland to the State Board of Pilots. These appointees regulate, select, and oversee the Pilots who in turn provide a safe, efficient, and reliable service to the citizens of Maryland. The Public Service Commission (PSC) determines just and reasonable rates for these pilotage services. From the sea to the dock, Pilots are accountable to the people of Maryland for the safe, efficient, and reliable pilotage service in all weather, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. They also work with law enforcement and military officials to protect the Bay, C & D Canal, and Maryland ports from acts of terror.

The Code of Maryland

The Code of Maryland Regulations 09.26 (09.01.02-09.01.03) states the following: "Maryland’s Board of Pilots shall administer pilotage laws of the State under the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (DLLR) and is responsible for the governing and regulation of all aspects of pilotage service in Maryland, except rate setting, which is done by the Public Service Commission (PSC)." These responsibilities include all issues affecting: safe, efficient, and reliable pilotage, selection of apprentices, training and oversight, licensing of pilots, investigation of incidents, and disciplinary action of licensed pilots.

Environmental Guardians

The Chesapeake Bay has defined life in Maryland since its beginnings. When European settlers discovered the Bay it became the window to commerce between the Old and New Worlds. The Maryland Pilots serve as one of Maryland's important environmental guardians of the Bay. Commercial vessels, so important to America's role in the global economy, are almost exclusively foreign-owned and foreign-licensed. These vessels carry foreign goods and are crewed by foreign nationals. Often, only one or two top officers speak or understand the English language. What, then, would they know about Maryland's concern for the Bay, much less about Maryland's rules to protect it? The answer is simple. The Maryland General Assembly has made sure that an environmental guardian is on the deck of all commercial, foreign ships. The crew is informed of those rules on every visit to the Bay by that guardian. That guardian is the Maryland Pilot. State law requires the Bay Pilots to inform the Captain of all commercial vessels transiting the Bay of the State’s environmental laws as well of the penalties for violating these laws. As a result, no ship would consider pumping bilge or dumping its garbage into the Bay. A foreign Captain would not chance navigating the Bay’s shipping channels. The Bay pilots navigate these narrow channels because the risk of running aground could, among other things, cause an environmental disaster. These are serious matters to Maryland, the Nation, and to the Pilots. Maryland’s Pilots are responsible to Marylanders for the safe, reliable and efficient passage of commercial vessels on our Bay.

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