< Back to Queen's Harbour Master Portsmouth < Back to Regulations



Any person fishing in the Dockyard Port is required to comply with the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth Order 2005 Schedule 1 paragraph 5.8 which states: 
South of the Harbour entrance in areas not shown as “fishing prohibited” or “anchoring prohibited” on current Admiralty Charts, unattended fishing gear in respect of which a surface mark is employed must show a dan buoy or container with flag, whichever must be fitted with a radar reflector and have the identity of the laying vessel clearly displayed.

In view of recent obstructions being caused to safe navigation by unmarked and unattended fishing gear, in contravention of the order any gear not in accordance with the rules will be liable for removal to ensure safe navigation.

Marking of Fishing Gear

Advice to Fishermen and Yachtsmen

Illustrations below show typical fixed or moored fishing gear configurations, which are well marked. The line should be weighted to ensure that it does not float to the surface, and the flags, at either end of the fleet, should be mounted on poles. Flags coloured black show the best silhouette at night, although the best way of ensuring visibility in the dark is by illumination.

Marking of Gear

NB: Local regulation may impose different standards from the advice given in this website, and in this event, local requirements should take precedence over this advice.


Fishing Gear should be clearly marked for all states of visibility with appropriate buoys and flags, and action taken to avoid the dangerous practice of lines floating on the surface. Gear must not be set inside navigable channels. Fishermen also need to comply with local byelaws and practice when setting gear. The dhan should be placed at the North or West end of the fleet to indicate its general direction, and there should be generous use of fluorescent strips and two bands of retro reflective tape on the dhan. It is recommended that a minimum size of a 1 metre (40 inch) circumference high visibility buoy be used at the other end of the fleet.

Fishing Gear Markers must always be marked with the Port Letter Number of the vessel to which they belong1, and must also comply with any local marking requirements, laid down by Sea Fisheries Committees, Harbour Authorities and Devolved Administrations. It should be remembered that Local Byelaws are legally binding. For any non-commercial fishing vessels which may be unregistered, gear should be marked with the owner’s name and contact telephone number.

1 The Fishing Boats (Marking and Documentation) (Enforcement) Order 1993


Yachtsmen need to keep a sharp lookout for fishing gear, especially when navigating around headlands and harbour entrances.

Yachts and other craft departing from navigable channels in order to take a more direct route should keep as close a lookout for fishing gear as for divers
and swimmers, and can normally obtain information from local authorities on the places where fishing gear is most likely to be encountered, as incidents of snagging do occur even when gear is clearly marked.

If fishing gear is spotted, it is necessary to keep well clear as the wind and tide may drive a vessel onto it. It may also be a sign that there is more gear in the vicinity. It is also important to be aware that fishing gear is frequently marked at both ends. Buoys can be used to determine the rate and set of the tide, which will assist with the decision which side to pass. It is very unwise to try to pass between a marker and float.

Although gear may have been set carefully, it nevertheless may be that on occasions at high tide a buoy is under the surface of the water, and at low tide slack lines may be near the surface.

Please note that more extensive requirements exist for Marking Fishing Gear deployed outside the 12 mile limit. Please contact the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (Southern IFCA) for further guidance and advice.

Advice to Fishermen and Yachtsmen

Each year the Coastguard has to deal with around 200-300 incidents where boats are snagged by their propeller or rudder on floating lines or fishing gear.

Example of netting arrangement

Netting arrangement

Netting arrangement

These images are examples only. Different arrangements may be found.

Example of potting arrangement

Potting arrangement

Potting arrangement