It is recognised that care should
be taken by vessel operators when anchoring in marine
SACs to ensure that anchors do not drag and damage
sensitive animals and plants of designated subtidal
habitats. Port and harbour authorities manage anchoring
within harbour areas. Where anchoring is a matter
of safety, anchoring restrictions do not usually
apply. Many good anchoring sites are traditional,
and are used because they provide shelter from wind
and sea, and adequate holding ground. Locations
used for anchoring by commercial vessels are usually
dictated by the vessel traffic management requirements
of the port, although this does not necessarily
mean that they cannot be managed in a way that is
less damaging to the European marine site. However,
the following comments apply principally to anchoring
by leisure craft and other small vessels.
Anchoring is often restricted within
ports and harbours for the purposes of safety. Most
navigational charts show areas where anchoring is
not permitted, such as areas where there are power
or telephone cables, and pipelines for oil or gas.
Such restrictions are so evidently sensible, and
in the interests of the vessel operator that they
are accepted by the marine community at large. Anchoring
is also inadvisable in areas of foul ground,
which are marked foul on the chart,
and generally consist of areas containing wreckage
or debris. Other areas can be designated for commercial
shellfish and where users also understand that anchoring
may result in damage.
Where the risk of damage to designated
sensitive communities is high from anchoring boats
outside areas where anchoring is already restricted,
additional restrictions may be applied to limit
the effects. Ports and harbours should apply additional
restrictions on anchoring activities with caution
and only where they are needed to protect vulnerable
communities of designated marine features. Where
the bottom is soft and there are no commercial shellfish,
underwater obstructions, or particularly vulnerable
plant and animal communities, damage caused by anchoring
is likely to be minimal, therefore anchoring restriction
is generally not necessary. In soft sediment areas
which are ideal for both anchoring and supporting
eelgrass beds, with no other obstructions, provision
of targeted information to encourage users not to
anchor can be used, although it is difficult to
reach and influence all users.
There are obvious benefits of seeking
outcomes that meet both the environmental and safety
goals simultaneously. For example, the rocky subtidal
habitats that may constitute foul ground may also
contain vulnerable communities, such as corals and
reef communities. It may be simpler to refer to
these areas as foul ground than to apply a further
restriction on anchoring in the area on environmental
grounds. If such a restriction fails to provide
adequate regulation of anchoring damage a more stringent
ban on environmental grounds will be necessary.
In this event, the best way forward is to clearly
explain to port and harbour users the reasons why
the regulation is required and to mark these areas
clearly on the charts. Where regulation is considered
necessary, a port authority might have to apply
for a harbour revision order to make a general direction
to shipping for this purpose.
Useful operational and environmental
guidance for port and harbour operations
- A better place in the environment, ABP Environmental
Review (Associated British Ports 1998).
- Byelaw powers for the coast, A discussion paper
- Code of practice for noise levels on ships (MSA
- Environmental Code of Practice (ESPO 1993).
- Environmental Code of Practice (British Ports
- Poole Harbour Aquatic Management Plan (Poole
Harbour Steering Group 1998).
- Shipping and the Environment, a code of practice
(International Chamber of Shipping 1997).
- Validity of Scientific Criteria for Environmental
Auditing of Port and Harbour Operations (Wooldridge
& Couper 1995).
- Work boat code of practice: An operator's guide