Riparian owners and fishing rights
Riparian owners and fishing rights

The following Property guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Riparian owners and fishing rights
  • Extent of ownership

Extent of ownership

Non-tidal rivers and streams

Where properties are separated by a natural non-tidal river or a stream, it is presumed that the boundary follows the centre line of the water (ad medium filum aquae); consequently each owner owns half the river bed.

Natural changes to the course of the stream over time mean that the position of the boundary will change accordingly (the principle of accretion and diluvion). However:

  1. changes which are the result of human intervention, or

  2. sudden but permanent changes (whether or not due to natural causes)

do not alter the position of the boundary.

Where title is registered, any agreement which modifies the operation of accretion and diluvion must be registered.

Tidal rivers

Land bordering on tidal rivers and sea inlets is presumed to be owned by the Crown between the high and low water mark (which means that the riparian owner has no property in any part of the river or the bed of it). The boundary may move gradually, as the line of the high water mark moves naturally over the years. However, if there is a sudden substantial accretion of land or an encroachment by the sea, the ownership of the area of land affected will not change.

A change which is the result of human intervention will not alter the position of the boundary.