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What are they?

The Harbours Act 1964, as amended by the Marine Navigation Act 2013, provides a mechanism by which the Secretary of State may by Order designate harbour authorities with a power to make harbour directions to better regulate shipping and improve safety within their harbour area. Such harbour authorities are called “designated harbour authorities”. (new sections 40A to 40D of the Harbours Act 1964, inserted by section 5 of the marine Navigation Act 2013). 

What are they used for?

Harbour directions may be used by a designated harbour authority to regulate ships within their harbour, or entering or leaving their harbour. They may relate to the movement, mooring and unmooring, equipment and manning of ships. For example directions could be used:

1.    to regulate the use of any main navigation channel or fairway;

2.    to prescribe where and how vessels are to moor and move within the harbour;

3.    to ensure ships above a certain size have working radios to allow communication between harbour master and ship;

4.    to specify requirements for no deficiency in machinery; and,

5.    to ensure sufficient people with relevant experience crew specific types of ship.

Who will they apply to?

Harbour directions will only apply to ships as defined in the Harbours Act 1964. This Act defines a ship as including every description of vessel used in navigation, seaplanes and hovercraft. The Court of Appeal has held that to be used in navigation, a vessel must be used to make ordered progression from one place to another.  

Why do Harbour Directions exist?

Harbour authorities are responsible for managing and running safe and efficient harbours. They have particular responsibilities in relation to the safety of vessels and people within the harbour, efficient navigation and the protection of the port environment.

To meet these responsibilities effectively, Dunbar Harbour Trust currently has three powers available under its local legislation which it may use in regulating its harbour areas:

·  Byelaws – power to issue byelaws which, subject to confirmation by the Transport Minister. Byelaws may apply to harbour land as well as the water;

·  Special directions – power to issue directions in relation to individual ships in the harbour area for a specified purpose;

·  General directions – power to issue directions in relation to all ships in the harbour area either in response to a particular occurrence or as a standing instruction to all ships or specified classes of ship.

Since its first publication in 2000, the Port Marine Safety Code (PMSC) has recommended that additional powers should be sought by a harbour authority, if a risk assessment concluded that it would be well advised to secure additional powers to support effective management of vessels in their harbour waters. Obtaining the powers to give harbour directions may meet such a recommendation 

2 Notices to Mariners

A notice to mariners advises mariners of important matters affecting navigational safety, including new hydrographic information, changes in channels and aids to navigation, and other important data.



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