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Chichester Harbour Overview

Chichester Harbour is one of the few remaining undeveloped coastal areas in southern England. Bright wide expanses and intricate creeks are at the same time a major wildlife haven and among some of Britain's most popular boating waters. This unique place has quite rightly been designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Backed by the South Downs, the harbour is a series of tidal inlets, with a narrow mouth to the sea. More than 10,500 Brent geese overwinter on the intertidal mud-land and adjacent farmland and around 50,000 birds reside in or visit the Harbour throughout the year.

Boats of all shapes and sizes make up the 12,500 craft that regularly use the harbour. Competitive and even international racing takes place among the 17 sailing clubs. A number of public launching sites around the harbour make it accessible for everyone. 

Picturesque creekside villages encircle the shoreline, which straddles the boundary of West Sussex and Hampshire counties. These range from the vibrant village of Emsworth, to the beautifully quiet hamlet of Prinsted. 

Visitors to the harbour will enjoy the miles of well-signposted footpaths. Alternatively you can see the harbour from the water by joining us onboard our solar-powered catamaran Solar Heritage to learn more about this special area. The Conservancy arranges a year-round programme of guided walks and activities with events for all ages and abilities.

The Conservancy

Chichester Harbour Conservancy is the statutory harbour authority for Chichester Harbour with a legal duty to manage the harbour and the surrounding land for the purposes of recreation and leisure, conservation and landscape protection. It has a wide range of powers to control navigation, moorings, works and dredging, as well as to maintain and improve the wildlife value and the landscape.

The Conservancy also manages the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) to ensure that it is conserved and enhanced for the enjoyment of all. AONB officers and their staff work with national and local government, environment organisations, landowners and managers and their local businesses and communities to ensure that these unique landscapes and the rare and wonderful wildlife living in them are protected and enhanced.

Management - The Conservancy was established in 1971. It consists of 15 members appointed by West Sussex and Hampshire County Councils, Chichester District and Havant Borough Councils and the Conservancy's Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee includes representatives of harbour and AONB users, such as sailing, fishing, nature conservation, rseidents, farmers and commercial interests. The Conservancy must consult the Advisory Committee on the management of the Harbour and the AONB. 
Conservancy staff are based at the Harbour Office, Itchenor and are managed by the Manager & Harbour Master. The Harbour Master reports to the Conservancy.

Funding - Income is from four main sources: Harbour dues - paid by all craft using the harbour; Mooring charges - paid by those who hire Conservancy moorings or mooring sites; Precept on the two County Councils; Gifts and Grants - bodies such as Friends of Chichester Harbour give grants for specific projects. Natural England currently funds the core AONB staff and some associated projects. Harbour dues paid by yachtsmen meet the cost of running the harbour, maintaining the navigation marks, controlling works and dredging and enforcing the byelaws. Mooring charges meet the cost of maintaining and administering Conservancy moorings and mooring sites and contribute to the cost of running the harbour. Other income pays for environmental work such as tree planting, recording and surveying wildlife, footpath maintenance and providing information about the area.


Please contact Maria Court in the first instance with all media enquiries. 

Facts & Figures

* The smallest AONB in the Southeast
* 74km⊃2;, nearly half is tidal estuary
* Seven marinas
* 15 sailing clubs
* Over 5,000 moorings
* 86kms of shoreline
* An average of 52,500 waterfowl each year
* Over 10,000 boats
* 45 hectares of semi-natural ancient woodland
* The 7th largest area of saltmarsh in Great Britain
* At least 25 Red Data book species of flora and fauna
* 298 hectares of coastal grazing marsh
* 25,000 people use the harbor for water-related activities each year
* 92.47km of public rights of way - 46km run along the coast and shoreline
* 10,500 residents
* Internationally important for five species of waterfowl
* Nationally important for eight species of waterfowl


The Harbour is an ideal location for filming. If you intend to use locations on or near the water, please contact the West Sussex Film Office.

You will also need the permission of the land-owner. The Harbour Office may be able to arrange support afloat as required.


Interviews can usually be arranged with senior staff and the Chairman of the Conservancy. For further details please contact Maria Court.


We hold a large library of photographs, some of which are shown in the Photo Gallery. Many are royalty-free. For high-resolution jpgs of harbour scenes please contact Maria Court with details of what you require.

Press Releases

If you would like to receive press releases and photocall invitations please email Maria Court. Please include details of your particular areas of interest. Press releases issued recently are available here.