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Byline: Adam Lisberg
Mar. 23--An obscure state maritime commission wants to expand its powers on land and at sea, giving New Jersey a strong new voice on shipping issues that traditionally have been overseen by the federal government or bi-state agencies.
To do this, the New Jersey Board of Commissioners of Pilotage is pushing legislation in Trenton that would give it more power and authority over the state's portion of the New York-New Jersey harbor. The legislation would allow the commission to regulate tugboat workers, improve security, and boost the shipping industry at New Jersey piers, which handle far more cargo than New York's docks.
The bill would give the commission more money, allowing it to set up its first office and hire full-time staff. But it also would reduce the eyebrow-raising paychecks that the six politically appointed commissioners have received in the past.
"The board needs to be more proactive on these many issues," said Timothy J. Dacey, who became president of the board in January, less than a year after he joined it. "We're trying to professionalize the board more."
The pilotage commission's primary job for more than a century has been to regulate the 43 harbor pilots who steer oceangoing vessels in and out of the New York-New Jersey harbor, keeping them away from sandbars, dangerous …