Board of Pilotage Commissioners Tug Escort Rulemaking (Chapter 363-116 WAC)

The Board of Pilotage Commissioners (BPC), in consultation with our agency, is beginning a rulemaking to amend Chapter 363-116 WAC, Pilotage Rules. Chapter 363-116 WAC describes the training, licensing, and regulation of Washington State maritime pilots to ensure safe pilotage. The rule also describes tug escort requirements for vessels carrying oil in Washington waters. 

The rulemaking will amend WAC 363-116-500 and, if needed, add new sections to Chapter 363-116 WAC. The rulemaking will consider 2019 legislative changes made to Chapter 88.16 RCW (Pilotage Act) through the passage of Engrossed Substitute House Bill (ESHB) 1578. The rules will be designed to achieve best achievable protection, as defined in RCW 88.46.010, and will be informed by other considerations in ESHB 1578. The rulemaking will:

  • Describe tug escort requirements for the following vessels operating in the waters east of the line extending from Discovery Island light south to New Dungeness light and all points in the Puget Sound area:
    • Oil tankers of between 5,000 and 40,000 deadweight tons.
    • Articulated tug barges (ATB) and towed waterborne vessels or barges greater than 5,000 deadweight tons that are designed to transport oil in bulk internal to the hull. 
  • Specify operational requirements for tug escorts, where they are required.  
  • Specify functionality requirements for tug escorts, where they are required.
  • Consider the existing tug-escort requirements applicable to Rosario Strait and connected waterways to the east, established in RCW 88.16.190(2)(a)(ii), including adjusting or suspending those requirements, as needed. 
  • Describe exemptions to tug-escort requirements, including whether certain vessel types or geographic zones should be precluded from the escort requirements.
  • Make other changes to clarify language and make any corrections needed.

Rulemaking timeline

Announcement phase (CR-101)

Filing date:
Feb. 22, 2023

Announcement documents

Rule development phase

February 2023 – July 2025

Public input and involvement 

SEPA meeting

We have determined that the rulemaking may have a significant adverse impact on the environment. An environmental impact statement (EIS) is required under RCW 43.21C.030 (2)(c) and will be prepared. Agencies, affected tribes, and members of the public are invited to comment on the scope of the EIS. 

A SEPA EIS Scoping comment period was held from Feb. 22, 2023, through April 8, 2023. We held one public meeting during this comment period, on March 21, 2023.

View comments received 

EIS scoping meeting presentation

Ecology and BPC are reviewing the comments received on the scope of the EIS.

General meetings

On October 31, 2023, Ecology and BPC held an online public information session to share information about the rulemaking, to provide a summary of workshops held to date with the regulated community, tribes, and interested parties, and to answer questions.

Public information session agenda

Public information session presentation

Additional languages


To request ADA accommodation for disabilities, or printed materials in a format for the visually impaired, contact our ADA Coordinator by email at, or call 360-407-6831. People with impaired hearing may call Washington Relay Service at 711. People with speech disability may call TTY at 877-833-6341.