How To Report Violations
Interacting with marine life is one of the main reasons we as divers jump into the water, but there is a code of practice when it comes to wildlife encounters not all divers stick to. Mark 'Crowley' Russel gives advice on how to report violations
A word of caution
Before I get on to the method of how to report an incident, I must stress that you should only report incidents that are clearly in violation of acceptable practice, and not minor incidents or accidents. There is a whole world of difference, for example, between actively harassing an animal and – although it is not considered good practice - patting a friendly turtle on the shell which will cause no harm whatsoever. Bear in mind that reporting an incident to an agency may result in the loss of a dive professional’s livelihood and there may be legal implications. You should therefor be certain that what you are reporting is worth taking that into account. The 'due process', as it were, would be to speak directly to the person involved first, then the management of the dive centre, local authorities and regulatory bodies and finally – as a last resort – the agency. It may be that the dive professional themself does not realize what they are doing is wrong, or is familiar enough with a species to know that their actions will not cause it harm. I firmly believe that malpractice should be removed from the industry, but there are degrees of acceptability, and one has to look at each situation individually, and objectively. Most issues can probably be resolved amicably at the time, rather than making a formal complaint to an agency, or posting videos on YouTube.
HOW TO REPORT UNPLEASANTNESS
- If, on the other hand, what you have witnessed may be classes as seriously irresponsible aquatic interaction by a dive professional, then you can report this to the dive centre they work for, or directly to their agency if necessary. If you do decide to make a report then provide as much information as possible:
- If you were diving with this person then include their name, the name of their dive centre and their dive boat if possible. If you have a log book signature with their instructor number then this might help to identify the person if they are – like me – using a nickname. Add the date and time, location and name of dive site if you can.
- If there were other witnesses then ask as many of them as are willing to provide statements and contact details, bearing in mind that any agency which undertakes an investigation may contact them for further information.
- Photographic or – better still – videographic evidence is almost essential, especially if there is nobody else willing to come forward, but even in this modern day and age, don’t send huge files via e-mail!
- If you don’t know the dive professional or the centre they were working for but were close enough to take photos, then look out for identifying marks or badges on their equipment, exposure suit or tanks. If possible, take a photo of their dive boat which clearly shows the name of the boat, preferably with them on it, and any other identifying features such as flags or other signs which may display the name of the dive centre.
- If it’s not a dive professional, then you can still report divers to the dive centre. If it’s a serious violation of acceptable behaviour then the centre may take action, and share the diver’s details with other operators.
- If nothing else, then naming and shaming on social media does have an effect – as the video above demonstrates. There were a couple of cases when I was still in Sharm where severe malpractice was posted on Facebook and went viral, resulting in two instructors losing their licenses to work. Again, please bear in mind that what you are reporting may have serious and unnecessary repercussions depending on the severity of the offence.