Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace has announced a revised recreational snorkelling code of practice for Queensland, based on expert advice from tourism industry operators and work safety experts.
Ms Grace said the revised code of practice would make the Great Barrier Reef and Queensland’s other waterways even safer for snorkellers.
“Queensland has the largest recreational snorkelling and diving sector in Australia and we’re the only state to have specific legislation covering the industry,” she said.
“But given the events of last year, which saw 10 fatalities in Queensland from recreational diving and snorkelling between July and December, we clearly need an even stronger code of practice.
“The revised snorkelling code of practice will adopt the following measures:
allow operators to request declarations from persons identified as at-risk snorkellers prior to them entering the water;
require automatic external defibrillators on reef tourist vessels;
mandate the use of floatation devices for at-risk snorkellers; and
ensure at-risk snorkellers wear a different coloured vest or snorkel for easy visual identification.
“These important reforms are the result of the Reef Safety Roundtable held in Cairns in February this year.
“Another key outcome being that the family of the deceased will be notified of the cause of death within 24 hours, once the cause of death is known.
“Industry stakeholders including WHSQ and tourism operators will be notified of the cause of death within 48 hours, and 24-36 hours after this, the information will be publicly released.
“Also resulting from the Roundtable, an expert panel will be established to assist the Coroner to analyse any snorkelling or diving deaths on the reef on a case-by-case basis.
Ms Grace Grace said the government would also announce a new recreational diving code of practice in coming weeks.
“We’re working with stakeholders to finalise the new recreational diving code of practice and I look forward to releasing this shortly,” she said.
Member for Barron River Craig Crawford said: “This new snorkelling code of practice is crucial for Far North Queensland tourism and the local economy.
“It will ensure Queensland continues to lead the way on reef and water safety and make the reef an even safer place to visit for tourists.
“Local tourism operators support the new code and I look forward to working with industry to ensure it works as intended.”
Col McKenzie, the CEO of the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators said:
“The changes to Code will result in an even safer experience for our tourists. Our industry strives to ensure world’s best practice and once again we have achieved this.”