This fact sheet has been prepared by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) regarding changes in state laws and regulations (MGL Chapter 21M, s.9 and 314 CMR 19.00) governing vessel notifications and the use of state pilots in Buzzards Bay.

24- Hour Notification Provision

  • As of March 1, 2009, an owner or operator of a tank vessel carrying 6,000 barrels or more of oil as cargo may provide 24-hour advanced notice to MassDEP of its intent to operate the vessel in Buzzards Bay (Western boundary - the Buzzards Bay Tower at 41o 23.8 N, 71o 02.0 W; Eastern boundary - the Cape Cod Canal buoy at 41o 48.9 N; 70o 27.7 W).  
  • While this notification is voluntary, operators who do not provide advance notification are subject to triple damage fines in the event that the vessel spills oil during its transit of Buzzards Bay.

24-Hour Notification Process

  • At least twenty-four (24) hours prior to entering Buzzards Bay, an owner or operator of a tank vessel carrying 6,000 barrels or more of oil as cargo should contact the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) at 888-304-1133.
  • The MEMA telephone operator will request information including: the name and number of caller; name and contact information for vessel owner or operator; name and type of vessel; type and quantity of cargo; vessel hull construction; vessel location; port of origination and destination; estimated arrival time into Buzzards Bay; and whether or not the operator requests a state-funded pilot.
  • The MEMA telephone operator will record notification information on a standardized form filed with MassDEP.
  • The MEMA telephone operator will provide the caller with a confirmation number.  

State Pilot Dispatch Program

  • As of March 1, 2009, an owner or operator of a tank vessel carrying 6,000 barrels or more of oil as cargo who provides the 24-hour notification to MassDEP may request the services of an eligible state marine pilot to assist the vessel during its transit of Buzzards Bay.  
  • The Commonwealth will pay for the services of the marine pilot provided that the tank vessel is carrying over 6,000 barrels of oil, the 24-hour notification was made, the vessel is not otherwise required to engage a marine pilot, and the pilot is not a member of the vessel's crew.  
  • The operator of a vessel for which a marine pilot is requested shall take the marine pilot on-board prior to entering Buzzards Bay or the Cape Cod Canal.   The pilot's services shall be utilized for eligible vessels at all times while underway through the Buzzards Bay and the Cape Cod Canal.  If conflicts in scheduling of the pilot and the tug/tank vessel arise, the vessel must delay its entrance into Buzzards Bay or the Cape Cod Canal until the pilot can arrive and board.
  • MassDEP will not pay for partial transits by the marine pilot, transits performed by improperly licensed pilots, transits that are in violation of MGL Chapter 103, MGL Chapter 21M and 314 CMR 19.00 or transits that are in violation of applicable U, S. Army Corps of Engineers or U.S. Coast Guard Regulated Navigation Area rules.

State Pilot Dispatch Process

  • The vessel operator must contact one of the two marine pilot organizations in District 3 to request a state-funded pilot (pursuant to 314 CMR 19.05):
    • Northeast Pilots, (Newport, RI), 800-274-1216
    • Boston Coastwise Pilots, (Winthrop, MA), 617-510-0082.
  • The vessel operator must complete the appropriate section of the transit verification form (provided by the pilot) to ensure state reimbursement for the pilot services.

For Questions concerning the Marine Pilot Program call 617-292-5516 or email stephen.mahoney@state.ma.us.