The Tiverton Harbor & Coastal Waters Management Commission is made up of nine members appointed by the Town Council for staggered two-year terms. Member of the Commission represent recreational boaters and fishermen, commercial fishermen, owners of riparian property, and conservations. The Harbormaster issues mooring permits and schedules for Tiverton Harbor.
Use of the Tiverton Harbor's coastal waters is increasing, particularly among sportsmen and recreational boaters. The Tiverton Harbor and Coastal Waters Management Plan makes recommendations rules, regulations, and local ordinances to help manage Tiverton Harbor coastlines and waterways. The management plan has six primary objectives: to evaluate activities now occurring in coastal waters; to guide and manage safety for current and future activities on coastal waters; to make recommendations regarding shore-side activities that are compatible with water-based activities; recommend policies consistent with federal, state, and local regulations; to consult with state and local leaders about waterfront development and coastal water programs; and to establish a system for the management and control of Tiverton Harbor coastal waters.
Water depths in Tiverton Harbor vary greatly. In the shallow Nannaquaket Pond, depths range from 0.3 to 0.9 meters (one to three feet). Depths in the Tiverton Harbor basin range from 12.2 to 18.3 meters (40 to 60 feet).
There are two federally-maintained navigation channels in Tiverton Harbor, one through Mount Hope Bay to Fall River, and one off the main channel that that joins Narragansett Bay to Tiverton Harbor and north to the marine oil facility. The waters of Mount Hope Bay, Nannaquaket Pond, and the Sakonnet River support fishing and shell-fishing. Shell-fishing is now the busiest fishery in Tiverton Harbor waters. The Grinnell's Beach Shellfish Management area is reserved by the State of Rhode Island for commercial and residential harvesting.
Port-related facilities in Tiverton Harbor include breakwaters, docks and wharves, launch ramps, boatyards, commercial fishing facilities, recreational fishing areas, and marinas. The town of Tiverton is responsible for managing the mooring areas in the coastal waters of Tiverton Harbor. In late 2011, there were 395 permitted moorings within the Tiverton Harbor waters in ten mooring areas in the Tiverton Harbor Basin. There are also over 100 commercial moorings. Tiverton Harbor aims to ensure that non-residents of Tiverton Harbor have access to town moorings.
Tiverton Harbor also manages public beaches and swimming areas. Fogland Beach is ideal for swimming, wind-surfing, and nature study. This Tiverton Harbor beach has showers, changing rooms, and a children's playground.
The Sapowet Management Area in Tiverton Harbor is a refuge that contains several coastal habitats and a cobble beach. The marsh in the refuge is popular with shell-fishers. Activities popular on this Tiverton Harbor beach include wind-surfing, swimming, fishing, bird watching, and walking. A small gravel boat launch gives access to the extensive tidal creek and salt marsh area. There is a fee for the parking lot.
Tiverton Harbor's Grinnell Town Beach, a small beach on the Sakonnet River that is popular with families. A lifeguard is on duty in the summer, and the crescent beach has a restroom with showers and changing rooms and a children's play area. There is a fee for the 50-car parking lot.
Tiverton Harbor has limited public access to the water, as many access points are held privately, and concerns have been raised at public meetings. As a result, the town will actively maintain and protect current public access points and maintain its right-of-way to accomplish this. Tiverton Harbor will also make physical improvements to shoreline access a priority and encourage the Planning Board to create new public access points for all new development at the waterfront. Furthermore, Tiverton Harbor will encourage citizens to participate in restoration, upgrading, and maintenance of rights-of-way and assess the potential for acquiring lands next to access points to be used for open space and recreation.
Residents in Tiverton Harbor are also concerned about growth along the water and limiting commercialized uses of the waterfront. To address these concerns, Tiverton Harbor will manage its shorefront property to preserve water and air quality and natural features and to assure the character of the town is protected while also enhancing marine-related activities. To do this, Tiverton Harbor will develop a waterfront area plan to maximize the safe public use of the waterfront. The Harbor Commission will review requests for zoning variances for waterfront developments. Those reviews will include consideration of navigation, harbor and automobile traffic, shoreline erosion, access to and density of moorings, water quality, parking, shoreline access, and pedestrian safety.