Harbour pollution

We aim to take a proactive approach to ensuring our ports are environmentally friendly and that the impact of our users and operations is kept to a minimum. Learn about ways we help to protect the environment.

Our ports jurisdiction extends further than you may think and harbour rules and regulations apply throughout these areas:

Scarborough – Within the immediate confines of the harbour walls and up to a line drawn from the Lighthouse Pier to the outer corner of the West Pier.

Whitby – Everywhere that the sea flows up to the Mean High Water Spring mark from Ruswarp Weir to the end of the Piers and then the open sea extending to 2 nautical miles North, 1.5 nautical miles Westward and 1 nautical mile Eastward.

Protecting the environment around our harbours is a task that needs everybody to get involved including our harbour teams, harbour users and the general public. You can do your bit by following these easy pointers:

Litter around our harbours

Our marine environment is delicate and wildlife can easily be affected by litter around our harbours. A dropped chip box or plastic bottle will quickly find its way into the water and can be mistaken by wildlife and birds as food.

Crabbing and fishing lines can become entangled on birds and can also cause of a hazard to the propellers of vessels.

Food waste can attract seabirds, and their droppings can affect water quality. So don’t feed them - and remember to put your food waste in a bin.

You can do your bit by making sure your litter and waste is always placed in the bins that are provided around our harbours and seafront areas.

Toilets onboard vessels

Vessels are prohibited from emptying their toilets and other polluted waters (from sinks etc.) whilst they are within the harbours jurisdiction. This measure is designed to help protect the water quality within our areas and make our seas cleaner for both humans and wildlife.

To ensure vessels are complying with these rules, vessels may be asked to place a ‘disclosure’ tablet into their toilets or holding tanks. These tablets release a non-harmful dye into the water meaning that it is easy to identify those who are polluting our waters.

It is believed that our Yorkshire harbours will be the first in the United Kingdom to use this innovative approach to identify polluters and these measures have been welcomed by the harbour community and the Yorkshire Bathing Water Partnership.

You can do your bit as a harbour user by sticking to these rules and reporting anybody who you suspect is not doing so.

Sewage and chemical toilet discharge facilities

Whilst using sea toilets is no longer permitted within our waters, other facilities are provided at both Whitby and Scarborough Harbours.

Holding tanks can be ‘pumped out’ at our facility in Whitby Harbour and disposal points for chemical toilet waste from vessels are provided at both harbours.

The waste from these facilities is disposed of responsibly in the same manner as toilets in your home or workplace.

If you choose to wait until you have left the harbour, remember that the harbours jurisdiction and rules may extend up to 2 miles offshore. Only empty holding tanks more than three miles offshore, in the open sea, where waste will be quickly diluted and dispersed by wave action and currents. Where possible, tanks should be discharged even further offshore so that waste is not carried back towards our coast and beaches.

You can do your bit by disposing of your waste from chemical toilets and holding tanks using the facilities provided and not into the water.

User facilities

Both Whitby and Scarborough Harbours have modern facilities for boat owners and crews including toilets, showers and washer/dryers.

These facilities are available 24/7 and should be used whilst you are in the harbour instead of using your onboard toilets.

If your vessel has a holding tank and you are using your onboard toilet, remember that you must not discharge any waste (including black and grey water) into the water whilst you are within the harbours jurisdiction.

You can do your bit by using the toilets and showers provided by the Harbour rather than your onboard facilities and remembering that you cannot discharge sewage into the harbour.

Waste from Vessels

The harbour operates a Port Waste Management Plan and facilities are provided for vessels to dispose of their waste responsibly.

Bins are provided around our harbours so that vessel waste can be separated into recycling and non-recyclable waste. Facilities are also provided for users to dispose of waste oil, batteries and used gas bottles although gas bottles should generally be returned to the supplier for reuse.

Waste collected in these receptacles is then disposed of in a responsible manner using Scarborough Borough Council’s cleansing teams or an approved waste carrier.

You can do your bit by making sure waste from your vessel is taken to the correct collection area and is not left on the harbour side where it may find its way into the water.

Business waste

If you have a business on the harbour or sea front, any waste you produce may affect the bathing water quality. You have a duty of care to store your waste securely and dispose of it responsibly. Use waterproof containers that don't let in rain, and check if you need a permit to dispose of your waste.

Any fishing equipment that you leave on the harbour side may also attract vermin and seabirds which can lead to water pollution. Where possible, remove your equipment and store it away from the harbour or indoors.

You can do your bit by encouraging your customers to dispose of their waste properly and ensuring that your business waste doesn’t lead to pollution or vermin.

Working together

Our harbour teams do their best to keep our harbours clean & tidy and to protect our marine environment but as a small team, they need the help and support of boat users and the general public.

Help us to protect our harbours, bathing waters, fishing grounds and rivers so that we can all enjoy our beautiful coastline well into the future.