RYDE Harbour is to be sold by the Isle of Wight Council.
In a delegated decision taken by cabinet member for economy and regulatory services Cllr George Brown, the harbour will be sold on the open market.
It will be sold with the condition it must only be used as a harbour or for an alternative use that could generate significant and sustainable economic benefit to the town or the rest of the Island.
The final terms must be agreed in a further delegated decision, otherwise the Isle of Wight Council will continue to operate the harbour, which loses £34,000 a year.
As reported by the County Press last month, the Isle of Wight Council has already received an approach from an unnamed party.
The decision to sell the harbour has been backed by the town mayor.
Mayor Cllr David Woodward said in his personal reponse: "It is apparent that in the current economic climate, which has seemingly no end in sight for many years to come; the Harbour presents a major problem to the Isle of Wight Council, especially from the aspect of the major maintenance required every few years, i.e dredging.
"This is not a natural harbour and it can only be maintained, even as a tidal harbour, by dredging every few years, a cost apparently now outside the capability or resource of this Local Authority.
"Despite apparently having some 21,000 visitors per annum, it is running at a negative cost.
"I think it is a fair generalisation to say that local authorities in general are not particularly effective when it comes to running businesses.
"Running businesses is not really the prime function of local authorities and I make this observation as a general comment regarding any Local Authority, not as a particular criticism.
"The structure and sea walls etc., in this area of the Esplanade and the Harbour is all in a good structural condition, as much of this area was constructed or rebuilt in fairly recent times.
"However it's somewhat let down by the Harbourmasters Office, which I assume started life as a container, and is a most unsatisfactory aspect in a Conservation Area.
"A future owner would, I am sure, definitely consider this aspect and would probably want to build something in keeping, perhaps incorporating a cafe or similar?
"It seems logical to think that the future of this facility can be better assured if it were not in the hands of a Local Authority.
"Clearly covenants will be needed to ensure it remains a viable harbour, accessible to the public because it is also an important Visitor attraction."