Harbor Master

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PLEASE BE ADVISED: As of January 1, 2023 the Town of Branford is issuing a moratorium on non-commercial moorings. Any moorings placed without proper registration in accordance with the Harbor Master's office are subject to removal and foreiture at the cost of the owner. This update comes as Branford was notified that our shellfish beds have been degraded due to an over abundance of illegal moorings.



The Branford shoreline offers a wonderful opportunity for boaters and fishermen both recreational and commercial. That being said, Branford’s waterways pose some of the worst navigational hazards in all of Long Island Sound. There are countless reefs and rocks (most unmarked) that surge up from the sea floor and pose serious risk marine traffic.  When boating in Branford, please exercise extreme caution. If you are unfamiliar with the area your best option is to stay in marked navigation channels.


The Branford Harbor Master jurisdiction runs from the Farm River in East Haven to Bear Island in the Thimble Islands and ends at the Guilford town line near Sachem Head. The Branford Harbor master has jurisdiction for approximately 20 miles of shoreline, the largest in Connecticut. The Branford River and Branford Harbor alone has 13 Yacht clubs and Marinas, 1,800 boat slips and 65 Moorings. The Branford Harbor Master has over 500 permitted moorings in his jurisdiction. In ports and harbors along the Connecticut coast and especially in the towns where the mix of water uses is most diverse, State Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor Masters have a distinct and essential role for ensuring public safety and managing our waterways in the public interest. Theirs is the job of maintaining an orderly haven where all vessels, including commercial fishing boats, tugs, barges, recreational sail and power boats, ferries and excursion vessels, ocean-going ships, and even small, non-motorized craft such as canoes and kayaks, may coexist in safety and harmony.

There are 39 appointed Harbor Masters serving 39 municipalities along the Connecticut shoreline on Long Island Sound and the major rivers that flow into the Sound. Included are diverse areas such as the ports of Bridgeport, New Haven, and New London, recreational and commercial harbors such as Southport, Branford, and Chester, and urban riverfronts at Middletown, Hartford, and Norwich. Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor Masters work closely with a number of Federal, State, and local agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps), U.S. Coast Guard, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP and local police and fire departments.

The powers and duties of the Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor masters are established in the Connecticut General Statutes, including Sections 15-1 through 15-9 and other sections. One important responsibility is keeping navigation channels and established fairways clear of obstructions. Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor Masters are also empowered to enforce the provisions of the Connecticut General Statutes concerning removal of abandoned and derelict vessels, including Sec. 15-11a and 15-140c.

The assignment of boat mooring locations and administration of mooring permits is a primary function of the Harbor Master's office. It may also be one of the most difficult, since the demand for mooring locations in State waters has grown over the years while the number of vessels most harbors can accommodate is fairly well fixed. Experience shows it is important to establish that, unlike anchoring, mooring a vessel in State waters is a privilege, not a right.

The Corps is the primary agency for granting Federal approval of mooring locations and has delegated to the Harbor Master approval authority for the installation of individual, noncommercial moorings. Section 15-8 of the Connecticut General Statutes gives the Harbor Master authority to assign mooring locations and require all mooring users to apply for mooring permits.

In summary, Connecticut's Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor Masters are dedicated officials who strive to perform their statutory duties for the care and supervision of the State's diverse harbors and waterways in the public interest and with the highest level of professionalism. The DOT's Bureau of Aviation and Ports provides information and other assistance to the Harbor Masters and Deputy Harbor masters and describes some of the basic attributes required for these important positions: a Harbor master should be familiar with the local area, its people, and its waters; be skilled in the arts of boat and mooring seamanship and be a person who can be relied on to uphold regulations in a fair, even-handed manner with an appreciation of the public trust.


In the past, moorings in Branford have been unregulated and unmanaged. Effective March 1, 2022, all moorings must be registered with the Harbor Master’s office or else they are subject to removal at the digression of the Harbor Master and his Deputy. For more details on how to obtain or re-registered your mooring please see the moorings page.

Contacting The Harbor Master

The best way to contact the Harbor Master is via email. Email is checked twice a month and all emails are responded to once they have been opened. Alternatively, you can also send a letter addressed to the Harbor Master c/o:  Branford Town Hall 1019 Main Street, Branford, CT 06405.  All mail is opened on the first of the month.