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tanker As a working harbor, Portsmouth has a proud heritage spanning 400 years of service to the shipping community. With a deep natural harbor and river, Portsmouth is one of the oldest working ports in the United States.

The Piscataqua River Basin's recorded seafaring history began with a visit in 1603 by English explorer Martin Pring and it has witnessed increasing maritime activity ever since. Throughout the historical and cultural changes of almost four centuries, Portsmouth Harbor has grown to support a thriving international trade. As communities were settled and businesses launched along New Hampshire's seacoast, Portsmouth earned growing recognition as a prime industrial shipping center.

In 1957 the NH State Legislature created the New Hampshire State Port Authority as an autonomous state agency overseen by a board of directors appointed by the Governor and Executive Council. The mission of the Port Authority is to develop and manage the state's tidal waters in order to stimulate commerce and to cooperate with other state and federal government agencies in planning the maintenance, development and use of the port, harbors and navigable rivers. The Port Authority fulfills its mission in ongoing harbor management, port development, port marketing, trade development and Foreign Trade Zone operation.

Today, activity at the Port includes pleasure boating and sport and commercial fishing in addition to bulk and general cargo transport to and from points worldwide. The Port's strategic location makes it ideal for import/export with European trading partners as well as businesses in the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific Rim.

The Port, ice-free year round, is the closest such port to Europe, with the transit from sea buoy 2KR only three miles. Rail service is available to the Port Authority and many other private facilities, while access to Interstate Highway 95 is only a half mile away. Pease International Tradeport is two miles away in Newington. The port channel is maintained at 35 feet and has bridge clearances between 135 and 150 feet.

In total, about five million tons of cargo enter or exit Portsmouth Harbor each year. Vessels of all types visit the Port Authority, including general purpose liners, bulk carriers, passenger ships, container carriers, feeder vessels and barges. Fresh water, stores, bunkers, telephones and a heliport site are available.

The Port Authority is the grantee of Foreign Trade #81. Facilities in the region recognize the value of the Port as a resource. Commercial, non-industrial users of the Port include tour boat operators, military vessels, environmental research vessels and charter boats.

An ambitious program to expand the Port Authority is underway. New piers will soon accommodate additional bulk cargo products and container and barge services. They will also provide for overflow vessels, tall ships and visiting navy vessels and cruise boats.

New Hampshire's skilled workers produce some of the highest quality manufactured products in the world. The ability to bring these products to a global market is essential and the Port of New Hampshire's public docks provide the deep-water ocean access shippers require to achieve worldwide success.


  • AIR
    Pease International Tradeport is two miles away in Newington. Heliport on site.

    225 ton crane
    165 ton crane
    35 ton yard cranes

    Access to Interstate Highway 95 is only half a mile away.

    Boston and Maine rail lines on site

    Liner, Bulk Carrier, Passenger Ships, Feeder Vessels, Barges

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FISHING INDUSTRY The fishing industry loan program is funded from a US Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration grant through the NH State Port Authority, with matching funds provided by the first NH Bank.

What is the purpose of the program?

The purpose of the loan program is to help the fishing industry to sustain itself under the new, more restrictive federal fishing regulations and to maintain compliance with US Coast Guard fishing vessel safety regulations. The program was expanded to refocus fishing activity away from the seriously depleted stocks by encouraging fishermen to:

  • seek alternative species,
  • engage in aqua culture or
  • explore alternative non-fishing employment options through conversion or diversification.

What activities qualify for loans?

  • Compliance with gear and/or safety regulations
  • Fishing boat conversions to alternative pursuits
  • Business ventures initiated by fishermen
  • Efforts to develop fisheries based on underutilized species
  • Aqua culture projects
  • Marine resource development
  • Marine business and coastal community job creation efforts for fisheries-dependent workers
  • Emergency repairs
  • Gear replacement
  • Debt restructuring

All applicants must have an established, bona fide residency in New Hampshire and/or be an established primary seafood harvester business within Rockingham or Strafford counties. Other seafood-related businesses are eligible and will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the board of directors of the loan fund.

Loan funds can not be used for projects that increase effort in fisheries designated by the National Marine Fisheries Service or NH Fish and Game to be fully exploited or over exploited.


    The important commercial fleet conducts operations offshore from four harbors along New Hampshire's coastline
    Active ferry, sightseeing and sport fishing fleet operates on New Hampshire's state waters
    Coastal stores and restaurants are teeming with the bounty from New Hampshire's waters

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Through its Harbor Management Program, the State Port Authority has jurisdiction over New Hampshire's coast. The state has an 18 mile coastline, but also has 165 miles of shoreline along its coastal bays and rivers. The program is designed to serve all who use these waterways.

A Chief Harbormaster and eight local harbormasters and assistants administer 23 mooring fields, maintain order and provide assistance to the general public. Their most time-consuming responsibility is managing the mooring system and assigning moorings to boaters in a manner consistent with prudent use of the state's tidal waters.

Currently, there are approximately 1,400 active mooring permits that have been issued by the Port Authority. The first step in obtaining a mooring permit is to go through the waiting list process. This process entails filling out an application for one or more of the established mooring areas in the state. Boaters pay a yearly fee of $5 for each mooring area wait list they wish to be on. Waiting times for a mooring permit range from over 20 years for the more accessible areas closer to the ocean to 2 years for mooring sites in the bay and river areas.

Waterfront property owners with actual frontage are exempt from the waiting list procedures. Harbormasters perform site reviews to verify ownership and frontage as well as to evaluate the safety and feasibility of issuing a mooring in the proposed location.

In assigning moorings and managing the mooring fields, the Port Authority balances a number of important considerations, including the needs of safe navigation, the interests of both recreational and commercial boating, the impact on the shoreline, and the sensitivity of the local ecology.

Mooring permit fees are $4 per foot LOA (length overall) for private boat owners. Fees for commercial leased mooring permits (marinas, yacht clubs) are $5 per toot LOA. A mooring permit allows the permit holder the use of that space in the state's tidal waters. Mooring fees are assessed annually. All mooring and waiting list lees collected by the Port Authority go directly into a state restricted revenue account, which is used to fund the Harbor Management Program.

The mooring block and gear, as well as their installation and maintenance, are the mooring permit holder's responsibility. Wear and tear on the physical mooring equipment, consisting of chain, swivel and shackles, must be monitored constantly to maintain the integrity of the mooring. A thorough inspection of the mooring gear can be achieved by either taking the block and chain ashore or by engaging a diver to perform the inspection underwater. Moorings should be checked at least semiannually.

Harbormasters are available for consultations and assistance regarding mooring related problems. The main office number is (603) 436-8500 and office hours are 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.



    Privately owned and operated, they come under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority
    Harbor masters ensure the safe recreational use of the Port's tidal waters

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What are Foreign Trade Zones?

Foreign Trade Zones (FTZ's) are restricted areas in or near ports of entry to the US that are operated under the supervision of the US Customs Service. These sites are considered outside the US Customs territory for purposes of entry procedures. Generally, foreign and domestic merchandise within the zone is considered to be in international commerce.

Trade Zones are operated under public utility principles, with grantees frequently contracting with private firms to operate the facilities and provide services to zone users. FTZ's have as their public policy objective the creation and maintenance of employment through the encouragement of operations in the US that, for customs reasons, would otherwise have been carried on abroad.

The zones are a part of the service structure for international trade and are meant to increase the state's role in international distribution operations by helping to reduce costs. If the final product is exported from the US, no US Customs duty or excise tax is levied. If the final product is imported into this country, US Customs and excise taxes are due only at the time of transfer from the foreign trade zone and formal entry into the US of the product itself or its imported parts. Merchandise or components entering a zone may be handled in a variety of ways while housed there. For example, goods may be: assembled, cleaned, destroyed, displayed, manipulated, manufactured, mixed, processed, re-exported, re-labeled, repackaged, repaired, salvaged, sampled, stored and/or tested.


Subzones are generally allowed only in areas where the existing approved zone site is commercially inconvenient for a potential user. While these subzone applications are approved at the request of the user, the requests and applications are submitted through the Port Authority and remain under the jurisdiction of the Port Authority. Every potential user of a zone or site requires the approval of the Port Authority and US Customs. The application submitted on behalf of a potential user can be very specific as to an individual use or as broad as the user feels is appropriate due to the activities and operations that will take place in the zone.

Business Benefits

Using a Foreign Trade Zone can mean substantially improved profits for businesses. As an FTZ is simply a US government-sanctioned site considered duty free, zones enable firms to enjoy the best of both worlds‹that is, to essentially take advantage of both domestic and foreign operations.

In Foreign Trade Zones you may:

  • Land imports and store them without full customs formalities, US quota restrictions, duties or bonding.

  • Improve cash flow as duty is not payable until goods are shipped from the zone. If they are exported, no duty is required.

  • Withdraw merchandise in less than case lots.

  • Insure goods for just their value plus ocean freight, duty and taxes.

  • Display merchandise and withdraw samples before paying duty.

  • Accept orders for goods prior to duty payment.

  • Process or manipulate goods to qualify for lower duty and/or freight charges.

  • Destroy materials that have been damaged or are substandard without payment of duty.

  • Alter merchandise to meet the requirements of federal and/or various state agencies.

  • Re-label or remark merchandise to avoid fines assessed on improperly marked goods.

  • Withdraw samples to determine US customs classification.

  • Pay duties on products manufactured at the rate of duty or quota limitation on the finished product entering US channels of trade as applied either to the finished product or percentage of foreign material in the finished product.

  • Import goods in excess of the quota and store them until the opening of the next quota period.

  • Fabricate imported goods subject to a US quota into a product not subject to quota limitation.

  • Salvage or repair damaged goods to maximum advantage, duty and quota free.

  • Transfer bonded merchandise into the FTZ for export, canceling the bond or lime limit applicable to bonded warehouses and recovering taxes paid.

  • Recover allowable drawback of US Customs duty or taxes on merchandise destined for export.

  • Save IRS or state taxes on whiskey, wines and other spirits held for export. Once placed in the FTZ. such merchandise is deemed "exported." The same may be true of similar imported merchandise.

  • Avoid posting bond for missing documents. Merchandise may be held in the FTZ until documents are located.

  • Ship merchandise valued at less than $250 with minimum US Customs formalities.

  • Store goods for an indefinite time to await the best market conditions.

  • Reship goods to which the US market is not receptive, duty free.

  • Avoid overhead expenses. FTZ authorities receive merchandise, store it, and then release it to a broker or forwarding agent, saving the expense of an office or special staff.

  • Import material may be classified as privileged, thereby permitting advance determination of duty and freezing the rate regardless of when the material is to be withdrawn from the FTZ and entered into US trade.
  • AIR
    Pease International Tradeport is two miles away in Newington Heliport on site

    225 ton crane
    165 ton crane
    35 ton yard cranes

    Access to Interstate Highway 95 is only half a mile away.

    Boston and Maine rail lines on site

    Liner, Bulk Carrier, Passenger Ships, Container Ships, Feeder Vessels, Barges

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