The National Fisheries Authority (NFA) along with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries wish to express our sincere condolences to the families and friends of those fishers who since the beginning of this year have lost their lives in tragic circumstances related to diving.
Diving as a method to fish is not illegal once it is done between the hours of 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. by licensed fishers. However, the use of scuba and air compressors (otherwise called hookah) for fishing are strictly prohibited. Their use is only allowed for specific industrial-based commercial fisheries on the Pedro Bank. The fishing vessel licenses must explicitly state if the fisher is authorized to use scuba or hookah. Otherwise, their use while fishing would be contrary to the conditions of the fishing licence and thus illegal.
This Ministry has for some time expressed concern over the unsafe dive practices of many of our fishers, given that the use of scuba and hookah gears require knowledge and expertise in the fundamentals of sport and commercial diving. These are fundamentals that divers should be trained in and certified for.
With the increasing illegal use of scuba and hookah gear on fishing vessels, and the resultant increase in fatal dive accidents, the National Fisheries Authority is now compelled to review the terms of fishing licences with a view for greater regulation over the use of this type of equipment in fishing.
In the interim, we continue to encourage fishers to seek training and ensure best practices while engaged in the profession and livelihood of fishing.