Divers concerned about boaters dropping weights

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Divers concerned about boaters dropping weights

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Divers at a popular site in Keelung have expressed concern over boats dropping weights into the water without checking for people below, a practice they say puts lives at risk.

Coral at the site that is the main draw for divers has already been damaged by the weights, they said, adding that the roughly 10kg weights are dangerous for humans and marine life alike.

The site, near Wanghaisiang Bay (望海巷), is populated by sea turtles, groupers and squid.

Wanghaisiang Bay covers about 15 hectares that comprise a marine conservation area where it is strictly prohibited to extract or harm coral, fish or other marine life, or to engage in any activities that could damage the local ecology.

This includes activities conducted both on the water and on the shore near the bay, with breaches punishable according to the Fisheries Act (漁業法).

Since the bay was listed as a protected area in May last year, many species of marine life have been discovered there, the divers said, adding that the discovery of Epimenia babai — a type of mollusk — last month marked the first sighting of the species in the nation’s waters.

This variety of marine life has attracted divers from across the nation, they said.

“However, these boats have shown up and they do not get someone to go in the water and check out the situation before throwing 10kg weights into the water,” they said.

The weights are often used by free divers, who do not use oxygen tanks. The weights, attached to buoys on the surface, allow divers to check water depth and guide them to the sea floor and back to the surface.

Free divers usually dive to depths of up to 10m.

Keelung Department of Economic Affairs Marine Affairs division director Tsai Fu-ning (蔡馥嚀) said the number of visitors to the bay for recreational activities is increasing every day.

The department has told boat captains many times that — aside from rescue operations — they are not to bring their vessels into the protected area and should not anchor vessels anywhere in the bay, Tsai said.

Divers with evidence of coral damage should report their findings to the department, Tsai added.

Divers must stay within the confines of the bay to avoid accidents, he said.


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