The state house this morning, unanimously passed House Bill 22, legislation sponsored by Representative Kurt Olson of Soldotna, that extends the termination date of the Board of Marine Pilots to June 30, 2019.
HB 22 was introduced after a Division of Legislative Audit report recommended that the Board of Marine Pilots termination date be extended, saying that the board’s regulating and licensing of qualified marine pilots benefits the public’s safety and welfare, and protects the marine environment.
The Soldotna Republican said that a pilot’s knowledge of the local geography and waterways they are piloting makes them invaluable to vessels, and this bill not only benefits the Board, but all Alaskans by making sure our waterways and shores are safe.
The State currently requires most foreign vessels and vessels over a certain size to take on a marine pilot when they enter or travel in Alaskan waters. The purpose under state statute is to “assure the protection of shipping, safety of human life and property and protection of the marine environment” by providing pilots who specialize in operating these vessels and who have extensive knowledge of local conditions and maritime practices.
HB 22 now moves to the Alaska Senate for further consideration.