The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Warawut Silpa-archa has introduced new safety measures that ban large commercial SCUBA diving boats from getting too close to dive sites. The rule would apply to national parks only so far and would require big boats to stay 100 to 200 metres from dives sites.
SCUBA companies that offer diving by taking many customers on a large diving boat will have to transport their customers on a smaller boat or dinghy the last 100 metres to the dive site. Varawut said that the propellers and engines from large vessels are a danger for divers in the water and disturb coral reefs and the creatures that inhabit them. He appealed to tourists to safely enjoy diving in Thailand with the new rules.
” I would like to inform you that all business operators will be informed, and we invite tourists to travel to SCUBA dive to see the beauties of the Thai seas during this New Year festival. Please help monitor the behaviour of business operators.”
The new restrictions bring Thailand in line with the International Maritime Organisation standard that calls for all boats to keep at least 50 metres away from any diving site and divers in the water. Many have said that the new rules will make diving safer in Thailand with common-sense regulations.
As SCUBA divers finish their dives, they stop near the surface for a few minutes for decompression, so big ships with large propellers cutting through the waters could be an extreme danger if it is allowed to pass so close to diving points. Some have called for extending this new rule to include speedboats for the same safety reason.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is implementing the rule and penalties with a 3 strike system.
The first violation of the rule will result in an official warning and a fine of 5,000 baht. A repeat offence will jump the fine price to 20,000 baht as well as suspend the company’s boat operator’s license for 30 days. The third offence carries an even more drastic penalty increase, with a 100,000 baht fine and the company’s boat operator’s license will be completely revoked.