With 10 tourist fatalities in 6 months around the Great Barrier Reef, the Queensland State Government has put into law a stronger Code of Practice for Recreational Snorkelling and will shortly announce revised Diving Safety guidelines.
Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace announced the long-awaited changes to make the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland’s other waterways safer for snorkellers.
- Automatic External Defibrillators now required on all reef tourist vessels to improve emergency response capabilities.
- Allow operators to request declarations from persons identified as at-risk snorkellers prior to them entering the water.
- Mandate the use of floatation devices for at-risk snorkellers.
- Ensure at-risk snorkellers wear a different coloured vest or snorkel and mask for easy visual identification.
Col McKenzie, CEO of Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators said the changes would “empower’” operators, who could now ask visitors to declare any medical history “If they refuse… then they can be told they are not getting in the water. Until now, we have had to let them and wear the consequences”.
Ms Grace said the reforms were the result of the Reef Safety Roundtable held in Cairns in February, and the is working with stakeholders to finalise a Recreational Diving Code of Practice to be announced in coming weeks.