Cruise liner at Falmouth Element of a boat Moorings at Falmouth

Sustainable Harbour Growth

Falmouth Harbour is committed to sustainable development at Falmouth Port.

Sustainable Approach

What are the harbours duties with regards to sustainable harbour growth?

As a trust port Falmouth Harbour (FH) are a self-funded organisation with a remit to use any surplus money to contribute to improving the port and harbour for current and future generations to enjoy.

Falmouth Harbour understand and take our responsibilities to the environment seriously and want all of our actions to be sustainable.

Section 48A of the Harbours Act 1964 places a duty on harbours to consider the environment during the discharge of its functions. We also have responsibility under the Habitats Regulations to act as a relevant authority. The Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 also places a responsibility on us to permit a small number of activities in our waters and we need to ensure these are completed sustainably in accordance with the policies contained within the SW Marine Plan.

Flushing Moorings

How do you ensure you are completing your duties?

FH have implemented an integrated management system to conform with BS EN ISO 14001:2015 (Environmental Management), BS EN ISO 9001:2015 (Quality Management) and BS EN 45001:2018 (Occupational Health and Safety Management) to help provide structure and continual improvement to our environmental management. This has been externally audited and certified by NQA for Falmouth Pilot Services.

FH also complies with the Port Marine Safety Code. As required by the code we undergo an external audit from our Designated Person to ensure we are compliant with the requirements of the code.

For further information see the Integrated Management System policy statement (01-034-01).


How do you ensure you are managing environmental impacts?

We have identified environmental aspects and impacts relating to our activities and put in controls to make sure that these aspects are effectively managed. We maintain an Environmental Legislation register to ensure that we understand our legal responsibilities and have procedures in place to communicate how our staff are to contribute to compliance.

As per the requirements of the BS EN ISO 14001:2015 standard we have implemented the continual improvement cycle to ensure that we are continuously measuring and monitoring and improving on our environmental performance where possible.

View of sea grass beds

Technical Studies

It is said we know less about the marine environment on our own planet than we do about the planets in our solar system. It is therefore essential we find out more so we can understand how our activities are having and impact and what we can do to reduce and / or eliminate these impacts. Over the years Falmouth Harbour have worked with the Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Natural England, Cornwall Council and private organisations to understand more about the local marine environment. We have provided a summary of the studies here.

Further research is planned in the coming years to provide further understanding of how seagrass regenerates over time and to further understand how commercial anchoring activities may be impacting on the seabed in Falmouth Bay.

The following list is arranged by focus area.

Invasive Species

  • Results of Marine Biological Association Survey on Falmouth Haven Pontoons 2013 & 2016


  • The Impact of Commercial anchoring on maerl beds in Fal Bay – Newton (2011) (50-R005-01)
  • Testing the resilience of dead maerl infaunal assemblages to the experimental removal and relay of habitat (2015) – this paper has been published in the Marine Ecology Progress Series.

Physical Impacts on the seabed

  • Fal & Helford Recreational Boating Study (50-R000-01)
  • Transferable methodology: Estimating the ecological impact of recreational boating infrastructure at an Estuary scale (50-R001-01)

Port Development

Over time the needs of harbour and port users will change for a wide range of reasons. Future development initiatives will be assessed against the South West Marine Plan policies and an environmental impact assessment performed to understand the likely impact of protected habitats and species.

Examples of developments that may be required in the future are small dredge operations or further pontoon installations.

Falmouth Harbour from the air

The South West Marine Plan

The South West Marine Plan has recently been formally accepted and is now a material consideration for all marine licencing decisions made by the Marine Management Organisation (MMO). When thinking about a marine development such as installation of a pontoon please review the marine plan and the policies within to understand which may be relevant to your project. Reviewing these policies early on in the design process is a good idea to maximise the sustainability of your project and increase the likelihood of getting a licence.

Further information on whether you require a marine licence for your development is provided on the MMO website here.

For developments within our waters Falmouth Harbour is a statutory consultee. We look to ensure navigational safety is maintained around any new development and can also potentially provide advice on sustainability as well. If you would like to discuss your development with us prior to submission of a licence application to the MMO please get in contact.

The following information was developed when looking into potential Port Development strategies and capital dredge of the approach channel.

  • Port of Falmouth Master Plan (50-R023-01)
  • Falmouth Cruise Project EIA – Marine Ecological Survey – January 2008 – Sea Star Survey Ltd (50-R014-01)
  • Falmouth Cruise Project – Environmental Statement – Non-technical Summary – 2008 – Royal Haskoning (50-R012-01)
  • Falmouth Cruise Project – Environmental Statement – Non-technical summary – 2009 – Royal Haskoning (50-R010-01)
  • Falmouth Cruise Project – Environmental Statement – 2009 – Royal Haskoning (50-R011-01)
  • Port of Falmouth Approach Channel Dredge & Habitat Mitigation Scheme HRA (50-R039-01)

Recreation – Fishing

Recreational fishing is enjoyed by many throughout the Fal estuary. To ensure the fish we enjoy catching remain in good supply there are things we can be aware of and do.

The Sharks Trust have developed a poster on best practice for Shark & Ray Angling, it is available here.

Who regulates fishing activity?

Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) implement and provide information on local fishing byelaws and conservation. There are byelaws in place for the Cornwall area relating to a number of species ensuring they are only kept if they are a minimum size. Bass fishing is limited throughout the year relating to allowable size and also implementing catch and release for certain times of the year.

Information relating to bait digging and fishing can also be found in the Fal and Helford Environmental Code of Practice.

Whilst out fishing please ensure you minimise disturbance to marine animals by following the guidance provided here. Please also collect all of your rubbish and take it home with you as discarded fishing hooks can continue to fish and line can cause harm to marine animals who may try to eat it or become entangled in it. For more information on the impacts of discarded fishing gear please click here.

Is the marking of fishing gear necessary?

All fishing gear should be marked to ensure it can be returned if it lost.