To Keep Waters Clean, New Measures For Sustainable Diving Spring UP


To help keep waters clean, new international standards for sustainable diving have just been released by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), an independent, non-governmental international organisation with a membership of 164 national standards bodies.  

Through its members, ISO brings together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant international standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.

However, recreational diving offers the opportunity to explore a whole new world rich in underwater treasures. It also has an impact on the environment.

Diving is attractive for many reasons and it is no wonder that millions of people enjoy exploring life beneath water each year. The Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI), the biggest training agency for divers, has issued some 27 million diver certifications since 1967, and the trend is not waning.

This inevitably has an impact on aquatic life, putting an onus on the diving community to see how the underwater environment is faring – and how they are impacting it. Now two new International Standards have just been published, designed to increase diver environmental awareness and reduce negative impacts.

ISO 21416Recreational diving services — Requirements and guidance on environmentally sustainable practices in recreational diving, provides information on how the diving community can optimise their ability to observe the condition of the aquatic environment and undertake activities to improve it.

ISO 21417Recreational diving services — Requirements for training on environmental awareness for recreational divers, provides guidance for training programmes aimed at educating divers in environmental awareness and sustainable practices in recreational diving activities. This covers both theory and practical sessions.

Chair of the ISO Technical Committee (TC) responsible for the standards, Manuel Otero, said ‘’divers see what we above water cannot see, and therefore have an eye on the environmental condition of aquatic life. They also have a responsibility to be aware of their impact on it.

‘’These two standards give guidance and practical examples of best practice, such as those related to operating boats or interacting with aquatic life, which will benefit everyone. After all, tourists are more likely to return to waters that are clean and intact, rather than those that have suffered from poor environmental practices.’’

Convenor of the TC’s working group that developed the standards, Martin Denison, said ‘’they will benefit not only divers, diving instructors, centres and clubs, but tour operators offering diving holidays, diving boat operators and governments and any other organisations looking for information on diving and the aquatic environment. They also contribute directly to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which is about the sustainable use of oceans, seas and marine resources.’’

ISO 21416 and ISO 21417 were developed by ISO technical committee ISO/TC 228Tourism and related services, the secretariat for which is held jointly by UNE, ISO’s member for Spain, and INNORPI, ISO’s member for Tunisia.


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