Ports and Harbours
There are a variety of slightly different definitions
of harbours used for different statutory purposes.
The Harbours Act 1964 definitions of harbour and
harbour authority may be summarised as follows:
The term harbour means any harbour,
whether natural or artificial, and any port, haven,
estuary, tidal or other river or inland waterway
navigated by sea-going ships, and includes a dock,
a wharf, and in Scotland a ferry or boat slip being
a marine work.
A harbour authority is any person
in whom are rested powers or duties of improving,
maintaining or managing a harbour whether under
the Harbours Act 1964 or other enabling Act, order
Generally, the terms port and harbour are used
interchangeably, for most purposes. In these guidelines
they can be described and distinguished as follows:
Port is the commercial harbour
or commercial part of a harbour in which are situated
the quays, wharves, enclosed docks and facilities
for working cargo, and operated by a statutory port
Harbour is the stretch of water
where vessels can anchor, secure to buoys or alongside
wharves to obtain protection from sea and swell,
the protection may be afforded by natural or artificial
There are many harbours which have no harbour authority.
There are many harbours where there are two or more
ports. Port limits (the limits of statutory control
of a port or harbour authority) do not delimit the
seaward extent of a natural harbour.
In terms of recreational use, the Yacht Harbour
Association (1992) describes yacht harbours and
marinas as follows:
A yacht harbour is a sheltered
area permanently or regularly covered by water,
suitable for the safe anchoring or mooring of pleasure
A marina is a facility
for the berthing of pleasure craft, providing direct
walkway to each boat and the required amenities.