|It is a priority of Aqua-Firma to ensure that diving provides a net benefit to the conservation of the fragile marine environment and to the local communities we visit and that we minimise any potential negative impact your visit with us may cause. Our team of environmental scientists and professional divers have developed this Responsible Diving Code of Conduct which is designed to protect the environment and make every diver's experience more rewarding.
Maintain neutral buoyancy and master good buoyancy control. Poor buoyancy control is dangerous and can be the cause of considerable physical stress and environmental damage underwater. Much damage is caused by divers descending too rapidly or 'crash-landing' whilst trying to adjust their buoyancy. Aim to slow your descent and achieve neutral buoyancy before reaching the bottom. You may routinely be asked to conduct a 'check-out' dive in a less ecologically sensitive environment to ascertain your buoyancy skills. Use the opportunity to refresh and refine your buoyancy skills.
Be properly weighted. Carrying too much weight causes poor trim and body positioning encouraging your fins to drag over the bottom. It can also cause divers to use your fins more to keep buoyant, potentially kicking up silt and sand, or hitting corals. Check what weight you really need by carrying out a buoyancy check on the surface.
Do not stand on corals or other delicate organisms on entry or exit from the water during beach or shore dives or when snorkelling. Living coral polyps are animals and are easily damaged by the slightest touch.
Maintain a horizontal body position with fins clear of the habitat you are diving over or through. If you are not confident with your buoyancy when diving on a coral reef, dive around the edge. You can often see more marine life this way too.
Unless water temperature requires it, avoid using gloves. Gloves can encourage contact with the marine environment which can be dangerous to you as well as damaging to the environment.
Secure all equipment components and tuck gauges where they can be accessed without dragging or trailing. Divers should be both competent and respectful of the environment when carrying and using additional equipment such as underwater cameras.
Under no circumstances, for photography or otherwise, touch, hold for balance or lay on top of live corals. If necessary, steady yourself with your fingertips on a part that is already dead or covered with algae. If you need to adjust your equipment or mask and are not comfortable doing this mid-water, try to do so in an area away from reef or other fragile substrates.
Maintain control of your fins. They are large and designed to produce a force strong enough to propel a diver along with ease. Do not use deep-fin strokes next to or over the reef - the surge of water can disturb delicate organisms. Apart from decreasing the visibility and affecting the enjoyment of other divers, clouds of sand and silt settling on flora or fauna such as coral can smother the organism.
The only souvenirs that should return from a dive are memories and photographs. This is particularly true of wreck-diving which suffers from what is known as a 'tragedy of the commons' problem where individuals perceive their actions as insignificant but collectively, those individual actions make a significant impact.
Do not purchase shells, corals, starfish, turtle shells or any other marine souvenirs - you will be contributing to the degradation of the environment you pay to dive in.
Pick up any non-biodegradable litter such as plastic bags as you dive and tuck them in your BCD pocket. On any dive trip, make sure you take your rubbish back for proper disposal or recycling on land.
Interaction with any marine animals should be at their initiation. Do not chase, provoke or in any way disturb and cause stress to underwater creatures. In particular, do not hitch rides on turtles, manta rays or marine mammals, since it causes them considerable stress and can lead to personal injury.
Do not move marine organisms around to photograph and 'get the shot', or to play with them.
Tank-bangers' or metal rods are for attracting attention and pointing at things only, rather than a device for poking wildlife and prodding down holes. If using as an aid for stabilisation, try to make contact only with rock or dead coral that is already covered with algae.
|It is Aqua-Firma's policy and the policy of the dive guides to exclude any diver found to be deliberately or repeatedly flouting the above guidelines. It is important to communicate the responsible diving message and encourage positive practices and behaviour by leaving positive feedback when appropriate. Similarly, we encourage divers to voice their concerns if they witness irresponsible diving behaviour. Writing observations and suggestions in a visitor's book is one way to do this and we always appreciate feedback upon a diver's return.