THE Hong Kong Pilots' Association is increasing its staff of licensed shipping pilots as it prepares for changes in marine legislation that reduce working hours while increasing workloads. The association, a private company answerable to the Director of Marine, has already increased its staff of pilots to 71, from 65 earlier this year. By mid-1995, 75 are to be on staff with a target of 80 by the end of that year. Pilots - all certified oceangoing ship masters - currently advise captains on ships of more than 5,000 tonnes and any carrying dangerous goods. Last year the 65 pilots handled more than 45,000 shipping movements in Hong Kong waters. Staff increases are being made following a $2 million consultancy prepared for the Marine Department in October last year that called for changes to the pilots' operation methods. The report said the changes needed to be made to deal with the large number of oceangoing ships visiting the 'very crowded' port, that needed 'substantial' navigational experience to be safely manoeuvred through. Among the recommendations were compulsory pilotage for vessels of 3,000 tonnes, reduced working hours to allow for more rest between shifts and the relocation of the pilots' station away from Hong Kong's 'danger zones' near Green Island. The recommendations, which were considered by the Pilot Advisory Committee chaired by the Deputy Director of Marine, Ian Dale, will be implemented over the next year, the department's marine officer in charge of the pilotage unit, Szeto Lok-ki, said. Lowering the mandatory pilotage to ships of 3,000 tonnes is expected to become law by next July. The pilots' station is to move to Round Island at the entrance to the East Lamma channel by the end of next year or early 1996, when rosters will be revised taking into account more travel time to the station and increased work, the pilots' association general manager, Jimmy Wu Pak-jeung, said. 'The committee is still discussing some of the recommendations but most of them will be implemented,' Mr Szeto said. 'It just takes time for them to be put through because the Pilotage Ordinance has to be changed.' Only a recommendation that the retirement age be lowered to 60 from 68 had been rejected, Mr Szeto said, as it was considered unnecessary by the 17-member advisory committee. Meanwhile, the Shipping (Miscellaneous Powers) Bill is to be gazetted tomorrow transferring certain 'relatively minor' maritime powers from the Governor to the Secretary for Economic Services or the Director of Marine. 'The transfer of these powers . . . will relieve the Governor of involvement in relatively minor administrative detail,' a government spokesman said. The powers include designating public cargo working areas and declaring certain areas of Hong Kong waters closed to vessels.