What We Do

Poole Harbour Commissioners

Poole Harbour Commissioners is a trust, which means it is an independent statutory body, governed by legislation, the latest of which is the Poole Harbour Revision Order 2015. A Harbour Revision Order, approved in July 2001 and effective 1st November 2001, altered the Constitution and selection process to incorporate the changes needed to meet the National Standards for Trust Ports, and Harbour Revision Order 2012 (effective 23rd July 2012) amended the Harbour Limits and the Commissioners’ jurisdiction to the level of Mean High Water of Spring Tides (MHWST).

aerial photo of multiple ferries in Poole Harbour
photo of the sea and beautiful colored sky

Trust Ports

Trust Ports hold a unique place in the UK ports industry, there are no shareholders or owners and any surplus is ploughed back into the harbour and port operations for the benefit of the stakeholders of the trust.


Consist of those who use the harbour and port, its’ employees and all those individuals, organisations and groups having an interest in the operation of Poole Harbour.

Poole Harbour Commissioners’ Jurisdiction

The Commissioners’ jurisdiction covers the entire water area of the Harbour up to the line of Mean High Water of Spring Tides (MHWST) from the Haven entrance as far as the mouths of the Rivers Frome and Piddle near Wareham including Holes Bay and Lytchett Bay and the main approach channel outside.


Poole Harbour Commissioners ensure that all the varied interests operate in harmony, both for the common good and for the long-term sustainability of the whole harbour and its stakeholders. The Harbour Authority is empowered to consent or undertake operations in relation to land or waters within or adjacent to a European Marine Site, and is a relevant authority under the Habitats Regulations. As such the Commissioners have functions in relation to the Poole Harbour European Marine Site.

photo of multiple boats on water during sunset
red squirrel eating on a tree

Poole Harbour

One of the world’s largest natural harbours and one of the most beautiful parts of the British Isles. Host to many conflicting interests – commercial, recreational, military and environmental and also an internationally important area for nature conservation, most of the foreshore is designated a SPA (Special Protection Area) under the European Habitats Directive and sites around the Harbour are also designated as areas of outstanding natural beauty whilst the southern shores have Heritage Coast status.

Nature Reserves

There are three national and three local nature reserves, as well as Dorset Wildlife and RSPB managed areas. The harbour’s extensive sheltered waters also provide a magnificent haven for recreational sailing and water sports. The mudflats and salt marshes are of great ecological value for feeding and roosting birds.


A wide choice can be found in Poole Harbour, along with many swinging moorings. A new boat haven on Town Quay (Poole Quay Boat Haven) opened in April 2001, offering 100 pontoon berths for visiting craft located immediately adjacent to the town.

Local Activity

The Poole fishing fleet arrives and departs from a specially designed dock and Poole is also home to several boat builders, the Royal Marines and the RNLI headquarters.

Bridge opening in Poole quay

Commercial Activities

Sharing the navigation channels with sightseeing vessels and leisure craft of all types are cross-Channel freight and passenger ro/ro ferries along with conventional bulk cargo vessels utilising the port. The commercial Port covers 60 acres and, in recent years, has expanded with the increases in continental traffic.

Against strong competition for continental traffic between the south coast ports, Poole Harbour Commissioners maintain Poole as a prosperous, medium-sized port well in tune with its Harbour environment.