Beware - diver below

6 November 2013

An increase in the number of recreational vessels operating in close proximity to divers in South Australian waters is raising significant concerns for safety.

The regulations governing the operation of vessels near divers require the operator who sees a white and blue dive flag on a vessel, float or buoy to keep a proper lookout, proceed at a safe speed and navigate so as to avoid injury to the diver or the dive marker, whether it’s attached to a vessel, a float or a buoy.

If the white and blue flag is attached to a vessel it indicates that vessels’ inability to move from the current location because they have a diver underwater.

If the operator of a recreational vessel must operate within 50 metres of a dive flag it is restricted by law to travel no more than four knots.

However, it is preferable to just stay well clear of the area as a diver may be operating quite some distance from the vessel, float or buoy that’s displaying the dive flag.

Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) Acting Manager, Marine Operations and Response, Peter Thomas, is urging all vessel operators to keep a careful lookout for dive flags indicating that divers are in the water.

“Whether you’re operating in the waters around the Adelaide metropolitan coastline, the Fleurieu Peninsula, Yorke Peninsula, Eyre Peninsula or Kangaroo Island you are likely to encounter dive operations of some sort,” he said.

"If operators fail to observe the rules, apart from potentially tragic consequences, there are also some significant penalties that may apply.

"This includes those applicable to dangerous operation of a vessel which could attract a maximum penalty of two years imprisonment.

"I am very concerned when I hear of instances where vessels are travelling at speeds of up to 20 knots in close proximity of divers and dive boats – it’s just sheer lunacy.

"I urge everyone out there in a boat, no matter what sort, to keep a keen lookout for the white and blue dive flags to avoid any unpleasant, and potentially avoidable, accidents."

For information on boat safety visit

For a free copy of the South Australian Recreational Boating Safety Handbook or the Kayaks and Canoes Safety Reference Guide please telephone 1300 183 046, or email

Example of dive flag

diver flag