In 1991, the Australian Government introduced compulsory pilotage to reduce the risk of ship groundings and collisions in the Great Barrier Reef.

This means all regulated ships must have a pilot on board when travelling through the Inner Route, Hydrographer's Passage and the Whitsundays compulsory pilotage area. Regulated ships are considered to be vessels that are 70 metres or longer, or ships carrying oil, chemicals or liquefied gas.


The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, in consultation with the Australian Maritime Safety Authority may grant exemptions to compulsory pilotage where it is decided that:
  • a pilot would not provide additional environmental protection benefit. For example, an operator may have considerable experience and suitable navigational aids on their ship
  • the ship does not pose an environmental threat because it is likely to remain stationary or in a limited area.