Wes Gray and Peter Bambrick of the Red Beanie Boys Gladstone dive group hold a guide line.
Wes Gray and Peter Bambrick of the Red Beanie Boys Gladstone dive group hold a guide line. Wes Gray, Red Beanie Boys

Professional divers concerned about new safety rules

PROFESSIONAL divers are concerned about being hung out to dry if a tragedy were to happen after recent changes to safety regulations.

The State Government, through the Department of the Attorney-General, announced that safety certificates previously required for first-time divers would be scrapped, and only necessary for those deemed 'at risk'.

Professional Dive Services certified instructor and owner John Gransbury said while it opened the door to more entry-level divers, operators would be wary of potential issues that could arise with the relaxed safety requirements.

The Brisbane-based dive expert has dived Heron Island many times and said the changes would be welcomed by resorts such as Heron, because they could attract more international divers now that dive medicals were not a necessity.

"There was some uproar in the past when they tried to make snorkellers require a dive medical as well, but resorts like Heron will probably be happy with the changes as it means they should attract more overseas divers," Mr Gransbury said.

On the positive side, Mr Gransbury believed the changes would make Australian operators more competitive on the global scale.

"These changes should encourage a lot more domestic dive certifications. We haven't been able to price match with what guys overseas can offer," he said.

"With the Aussie dollar dropping we should see more people holidaying at home, which should increase the number of people getting their dive certifications and taking trips here rather than abroad."

Attorney-General Jarrod Bleijie also announced changes to head-count procedures for operators, with two crew members now required to conduct counts instead of one.

This is to avoid instances of divers and snorkellers being left behind, like the Lonergans were in 1998, potentially crippling to the industry worth $1.4 billion to the Queensland economy each year.

"These changes make diving in Queensland safer and more affordable and they open up our waters to so many more water lovers," Mr Bleijie said.

Changes to diving regulations a common sense move

A FRATERNITY of Gladstone scuba diving enthusiasts known as the Red Beanie Boys are alive and kicking in Gladstone, and said changes to regulations were a common sense move.

Keen diver and administrator of their Facebook page, Peter Bambrick ,said safety procedures were important for the group when not on chartered trips.

"When you're on a charter boat, the dive master is in charge of taking details, names, times in and out of the water and ensuring buddies are assigned and everyone gets back on board," Mr Bambrick said.

"For us on a private boat, you make sure you've always got at least one or two dive buddies and we always use a wreck reel, to ensure we have a line from the anchor to the wreck for everyone to follow."

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