As with many government initiatives (regardless of government), some people applaud and others launch criticism. This is the case of the government's project to regulate scuba diving in Gibraltar. On the one hand, their proposal would strengthen control over the activities of freelance divers and, on the other hand, promote diving as the main tourist activity and source of income. And in the third hand! they propose to better protect the marine environment, but without tackling the difficult problems of species conservation.
Due to safety concerns with the deaths of several divers, the government is proposing new safety and health regulations, licensing and other administrative measures. activities on diving clubs and commercial operators.
According to the owners of dive shops in Gibraltar, the health and safety problems are due to the Spanish diving operators who take their customers from the other side of the border to dive in the waters of Gibraltar, without being aware of the local conditions and the necessary supervision. A local dive shop owner claims to have witnessed several dive accidents over a five-year period, all involving Spanish dive operators.
Another element of the government's proposal is the creation of special interest areas (ASIS) and the setting up of rules for diving in these much stricter areas. One of the areas, known to become an ASIS system, extends from the southern end of South Mole to the area south of the Camp Bay Conservation Site.
The region is rich in wrecks and artifacts. As stated in the consultation document, the protection of the environment and recreational diving, as well as the underwater heritage of Gibraltar, will require that the diving activity within an ASIS organized and guided by a registered local dive club or licensed commercial provider.
Recreational boating inside an ASIS would not be allowed except for vessels participating in activities related to diving. Another provision of the proposal provides for the creation of a "diving center" within which clubs and commercial operators could establish their stores and other facilities, which would allow coordination of activities for their customers. A building located next to the ferry terminal would currently be under study.
The Ornithology and Natural History Organization of Gibraltar is one of the dissident groups. They welcome the government's interest in regulating activities impacting marine environments. However, they are not satisfied with the over-reliance placed on the exploitation of marine resources rather than conservation for its own benefit, particularly because of the marine life off Gibraltar. Gibraltar is legally responsible for its protection.
The organization also believes that the proposal does not address the continued loss of species and marine habitats, otherwise the regulation of fishing and diving will have only a few. 39; importance.
There is no doubt that the discussion of these important proposals will be raging.