Dive impact park study

A NEW project is under way to develop best-practice guidelines for zero-impact diving, particularly in protected marine environments such as the Solitary Islands Marine Park.

The project, led by researchers from Southern Cross University’s National Marine Science Centre, is being supported by the Northern Rivers Catchment Management Authority (NRCMA) and Jetty Dive, a Coffs Harbour dive operator.

During the past two months Dr Steve Dalton and Dr Andrew Carroll have been monitoring the interactions between divers and the

marine life they encounter, in particular incidental contact with the bottom that may lead to accidental damage of marine life.

“Many divers are attracted to dive sites that are within sanctuary zones, which afford maximum protection, and are often the most diverse in terms of corals and fish life,” Dr Dalton said .

“This project raises awareness of the unique marine environment found within the Solitary Islands Marine Park and encourages divers to take photos and only leave bubbles.

“The feedback from divers who have participated in this project has been very positive.

“They have a reasonable level of awareness about the importance of marine conservation and are very keen to learn more about marine parks and passive diving techniques that can improve diver experience and mitigate incidental interactions with local marine life.”

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