Byelaws / GD’s


Précis of Relevant Byelaws

Byelaws are essential tools for the safe management of the Harbour.While it is the Harbour Commissioners’ policy to educate, it is unfortunate that prosecution action in the courts is necessary for those who refuse to behave in a responsible manner.

These are the important byelaws which affect recreational users:

  1. All vessels shall conform to the orders and directions of the Harbour Master.
  2. (a) Every vessel shall be navigated with care and caution and at such speed and in such manner as not to endanger the lives or cause injury or be a nuisance to persons or endanger the safety of or cause damage to other vessels, moorings, buoys, beacons or other property.
  1. (aa) Vessels shall not be navigated at a speed exceeding 10 knots through the water.
  1. (b) Vessels shall not be navigated at speed exceeding 6 knots in the Little Channel, between the Quays and in Holes Bay.
  1. (bb) No person shall engage in board sailing within the Middle Ship Channel or within the Haven Channel without the Harbour Master’s written consent. Persons intending to cross these channels shall do so by the shortest possible route and so as not cause an obstruction to other vessels navigating in the channel
  1. (c) Persons or vessels engaged in fishing with nets, lines, or trawls shall not obstruct with their vessels or gear any channel or fairway used by vessels
  1. (d) Vessels may not wilfully be permitted to drift in a fairway for the purpose of fishing or any other purpose
  1. (e) No person shall engage in water skiing, ascending by towed kite or parachute, or use a jet ski or hovercraft except with the written permission of
    the Harbour Master

Chain Ferry Byelaw

Priority between chain ferry and other vessels. All vessels navigating in the Harbour which are not subject to compulsory pilotage shall give way to the chain ferry


Poole Harbour (Harbour Traffic Signals) – (Poole Bridges) Byelaws 2011

The Master of a vessel moving in the vicinity of the downstream bridge or the upstream bridge must comply at all times with an indication given by the signals

Significance of Signals

Which apply to both the fixed and opening spans

  1. A red signal conveys the prohibition that vessels must not proceed beyond the signal
  2. A flashing red signal indicates a serious emergency and conveys the prohibition that vessels must not proceed beyond the signal
  3. A green signal indicates that vessels may proceed beyond the signal
  4. A red-with-yellow signal indicates that vessels may proceed with caution beyond the signal

Call Sign “Poole Bridge” –VHF Ch 12

yachts in Poole Harbour, Dorset

General Direction – Registration of Small Commercial Craft

For the purpose of promoting or securing conditions conducive to the ease, convenience or safety of navigation and the safety of persons and property in the harbour, Poole Harbour Commissioners seek to ensure that all commercial craft operating within Poole Harbour are properly maintained, equipped and manned and used only for purposes for which they are capable.

With immediate effect therefore, all operators of commercial vessels working in Poole Harbour are required to register their craft with Poole Harbour Commissioners by completing the relevant registration form. Registration must then be renewed on an annual basis. Any vessel that is certificated for commercial use under any:

  • Small Commercial Vessel Code;
  • Workboat Code; or
  • Passenger Boat Code

or licensed by Poole Borough Council under section 94 of the Public Health Acts Amendment Act 1907 must provide the Harbour Master with a copy of the relevant certificate of compliance or licence.

Where a commercial vessel is not certificated for commercial use under any of the above codes of practice or licensed by Poole Borough Council, Poole Harbour Commissioners may, if deemed appropriate, conduct inspections of such craft and request owners to provide copies of manufacturer’s handbooks or other similar information. Where such an inspection indicates that a vessel is not properly maintained, equipped (by reference to MGN 469 or any subsequent replacement or amendment) or manned (by reference to MSN 1853 or any subsequent replacement or amendment) or is being used for a purpose for which it is not capable this, and any proposed restrictions on the vessel’s use, will be recorded and discussed with the vessel’s owner and/or operator and, where appropriate, Poole Borough Council and/or the MCA. Commercial vessels for the purposes of this Direction mean any vessel which is less than 24 metres in load line length and is not a pleasure vessel. A pleasure vessel is:

  • any vessel which is used solely for sport or pleasure by its owners (or the owners’ immediate family or friends) or, where the owner is a body corporate, employees or officers of the owner (or their immediate family or friends) on voyages or excursions for which the owner does not receive money for or in connection with operating the vessel or carrying any person, other than as a contribution to the direct expenses of the operation of the vessel incurred during the voyage or excursion; or
  • any vessel wholly owned by or on behalf of a members’ club formed for the purpose of sport or pleasure which, at the time it is being used, is used only for the sport or pleasure of members of that club or their immediate family, and for the use of which any charges levied are paid into club funds and applied for the general use of the club, as more particularly defined in the Merchant Shipping (Vessels in Commercial use for Sport or Pleasure) Regulations 1998, as amended.

Anyone who fails to comply with this general direction shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding level 4 on the standard scale.


General Direction – Kitesurfing within the Poole Harbour Commissioners Are of Jurisdiction

  1. This direction is given pursuant to article 12 of the Poole Harbour Revision Order 2012 (“the 2012 Order”)in respect of any surfboard or similar vessel powered by a kite(“a Kite Surfer”). This direction shall apply in all parts of the Harbour, as defined by article 4 of the 2012 Order (“the Harbour”).
  2. No Kite Surfer shall be operated in the Harbour by any person who is not in possession of a “Kite Surfing Permit”. Such a permit denotes a declaration that the holder has at least 3rd party public liability insurance , a competency statement to confirm ability to self-rescue and deep water pack down , has paid the relevant dues and agrees to abide by appropriate terms and conditions issued by the Harbour Master
  3. Students of BKSA registered schools while undergoing training under the direct supervision of a BKSA accredited instructor will be exempt from the requirement to purchase a permit, however they must wear a “rash” vest provided by their school.
  4. Persons issued with a “Kite Surfing Permit” must display the supplied tag at all times when kite surfing.
  5. Any person in charge of a Kite Surfer, or is otherwise responsible for its management or operation who fails to comply with this Direction shall be guilty of an offence pursuant to article15 of the 2012 Order and may be prosecuted.

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