Cowes Harbour Commission publishes open port policy

As a Harbour Authority, Cowes Harbour Commission (CHC) says it has a statutory duty to maintain an ‘Open Port Policy’ for freedom of navigation and public use. According to a statement from the CHC, Cowes Harbour remains open at this time and cannot refuse entry to any vessel that needs to transit the harbour or access a berth, unless CHC is ordered by the UK Government to close or restrict access to the port.

The Government’s Emergency COVID-19 Bill does include legislation that would enable the Home Secretary to request port operators to temporarily close and suspend operations, but it is understood this would be a ‘last resort’ measure aimed at ensuring international ports and cross-Channel ports have sufficient Border Force to maintain the UK’s border security.

That said, Capt. Stuart McIntosh, Cowes Harbour Master, urges people to: “continue to follow both the Government guidelines and the spirit of the guidelines.”

“Although CHC continues to ensure compliance with the fundamental open port principle, we have published a Local Notice to Mariners requiring all vessels arriving from a port outside the UK to divert to Trinity Landing and provide information about their crew and last port of call,” says CHC’s statement. “Our Patrol Officers are also advising harbour users to avoid any movements on the river.”

Associated British Ports update

Meanwhile Dafydd Williams, Head of Communications & Corporate Affairs, Associated British Ports, says as far as he’s aware, the 21 ports in the network “Haven’t turned away any ships from anywhere.”

And, he says, he’s “not aware of any leisure craft being stopped in ports” but says ABP wouldn’t necessarily be told.

“There’s no leisure craft in the Humber,” he says of the waters around national critical infrastructure asset, Port of Immingham, “and if there were, it’d be the police who’re stopping them. We’ll report any if we see them. The reduced distraction [of leisure craft] is quite useful for us.”

The Royal Yachting Association strongly urges recreational boaters to respect the Government’s instructions of ‘staying at home’ so that those who may become ill do not increase the pressure on local services and facilities.

When asked if statistics were available about the number of leisure craft being stopped around the coastline, Hampshire Police says: “We won’t be providing a running commentary at this time in relation to figures for policing activity relating to Coronavirus.”

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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