Bar Pilots are not paid by the state of Louisiana or by Louisiana taxpayers.
Shippers, not tax payers, pay pilotage fees under a regulated tariff system and the Bar Pilots cannot raise pilotage fees at will. Pilotage is set by the Louisiana Pilot Fee Commission, and paid by shippers, who use Pilots to bring ships and their cargo in and out of the Mississippi River. It is a common misconception that the state of Louisiana contributes to Pilot pay. Neither the State of Louisiana nor Louisiana tax dollars contribute a single penny to pilotage fees.
Bar Pilots are not guaranteed a salary. Compensation fluctuates with the number of ships transiting the river and cargo volumes. In other words, pay is based on the amount of work provided.
Pilotage fees represent less than one percent of the cargo value. A typical crude oil tanker transiting the Mississippi River will carry about 500,000 barrels (or twenty-one million gallons) of crude oil. That cargo is worth $37,500,000 at market value today. Last year the Bar Pilots handled well over 10,000 vessels.