The Norwegian Kystverket (coastal and navigation authority) plans to introduce compulsory pilotage for most of the waters around Spitsbergen. Coal freighters to Sveagruava may have to carry pilots already in the upcoming summer of 2012. From 2014, this will apply to all ships longer than 70 metres and passenger ships longer than 24 metres. Only parts of Isfjord and Bellsund will be excluded.
Captains with sufficient experience and local knowledge can, after a test, be certified to be excepted from compulsory pilotage. If this is practicable remains to be seen: costs and fees will be high, and it should currently not be taken for granted that tests will be available in other languages than Norwegian. Another requirement will probably be that a certified Captain or navigation officer is in charge on the bridge at any time when the ship is moving. This will hardly be practicable for smaller ships and it does not contribute anything to nautical safety: large parts of most common sailing routes in Spitsbergen (Svalbard) are nautically very easy and straightforward and can easily be handled by all navigation officers.
Smaller ships between 24 and 100 metres, so-called expedition cruise ships, will be threatened with an immediate termination of their activities: the costs for pilotage during a 10 day cruise will be beyond 100,000 Euro, an amount that makes sailing economically completely impossible.
Large parts of the waters around Spitsbergen are deep and well enough charted by now to allow comparatively easy navigation. Where pilots can be found who can make a noticeable difference in more difficult waters, compared to what present-day Captains can do, remains an open question at the time of writing. The law is supposed to enter force on 01 July 2012.
Spitsbergen is annually visited by ships of different sizes. The harbor of Ny Ålesund.