Port of Milford Haven

Bye-laws and Enforcement

The Port of Milford Haven is responsible for the navigation, safety and traffic regulation of all vessels navigating within the Waterway. This responsibility relates to both you as a recreational user and the commercial vessels regularly visiting and operating in the waterway. We use a number of tools to help us and these include the use of Byelaws, General Directions, Special Directions and Notices to Mariners.

As a recreational user you may not be as familiar with these tools as the commercial operators. It is however important that you familiarise yourself with them so a brief description of each is provided below.


Bye-laws applied to recreational and commercial vessels are specific to activity occurring within our area of jurisdiction and are applicable throughout the waterway. The current bye-laws came into operation in 1984 and 1987. Selected bye-laws with particular relevance to you as a recreational user are included in the Tide Tables. 

General Directions

General Directions support the bye-laws and are orders made by the Harbourmaster to regulate the movement or navigation of all craft within the area of jurisdiction. The current General Directions came in to operation on 31st March 2016.

Special Directions

In addition to the requirements of MHPA bye-laws and General Directions, we may also issue, amend or revoke Special Directions in relation to the waterway or specific craft within the waterway. Special Directions can require craft to act in a particular manner or require certain actions to be carried out in relation to a craft.

Notice to Mariners

We use Notices to Mariners (NTMs) to disseminate information to users. They are issued to advise of particular activities or situation which may impact on the safety of users or those carrying out activities. If appropriate a NTM may also contain requests for users to act in a particular manner in specified areas or at specified times.


The Water Ranger is primarily responsible for policing recreational craft on the waterway. Policing is conducted through waterway patrols, which are carried out on a regular basis throughout the season. The Water Ranger regularly patrols areas which are perceived as ‘hot spots’ for bye-law infringements, especially the Dead Slow Minimum Wake area upstream of the main water-ski area. Assistance with patrols is provided by other Port Authority vessels and the Dyfed-Powys Police Marine Unit if required. In addition to policing, the patrols provide water users with assistance and advice.

Enforcement of Bye-Laws and Directions

Infringements may be observed by our patrols or reported to us by members of the public and other users of the waterway. If you are involved in a minor infringement whilst in the waterway it is likely that you will be approached or contacted by one of our patrols. All reported infringements are logged and the patrol team will record details (which may include video or photographic evidence) of the infringement, craft and people involved. They will also explain the infringement to you and issue you with a leisure Guide if appropriate. In many cases this is sufficient action.

For more serious infringements or in cases of repeat offences you may be asked to provide a written statement. Statements may also be taken from those involved and witnesses. It is usual that following such offences details recorded (which may include photographic and video evidence) of the infringement and any other infringement you or your vessel have been involved in will be collated and reviewed and a more formal written approach adopted in dealing with the matter.

The marinas, boatyards and training providers on the waterway readily assist in supplying further information when required, which is then held on file. You should also be aware that Bye-laws and Directions are legally enforceable and the ultimate sanction is prosecution through the courts where fines not exceeding level 4 on the Standard Scale may be placed on offenders. (The current maximum fine under level 4 is = £2,500.)

Our ethos is that compliance will be achieved through education and persuasion. However, for those few persistent offenders recourse to the courts may be the only option.

Safety on the Water
Safety on the Water

How to stay safe when you use the Milford Haven Waterway

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Download Tide Tables and Leisure User Guide
Download Tide Tables and Leisure User Guide

Tide Table and Leisure User Guide for the Milford Haven Waterway

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