29 Nov2007

Fallen Masts!!

Fallen Masts!!

Author:

In recent weeks there has been considerable hype surrounding the efforts of HEPCA to conserve the famous wreck of the Thistlegorm and other Red Sea wrecks. For this conservation work to happen the wrecks must be closed down to maintain diver safety whilst mooring systems are installed. Work is already underway on the wreck of the Thistlegorm and HEPCA is doing its best to minimize inconvenience for all. Many diving operators consider the closure of the Thistlegorm unpractical and have voiced their objections. However, the fact remains that we are losing this wreck and many others. Too many operators do not demonstrate any responsible behavior of their own accord and for that reason it is time for such intervention. In recent years the liveaboard operators have all opted to make bigger and better boats. With these boats comes a greater negative impact on the reefs and wrecks, simply due to their sheer weight and more aggressive resistance to wind and sea conditions. However, with bigger boats comes the added responsibility to change the systems and procedures that are being used for mooring and diving throughout the Red Sea. The commitment to minimize negative impact on our dive sites and marine life should have increased in direct proportion to the size of these boats. It did not. A case in point is the wreck of the Rosalie Muller. Only a few weeks ago the magnificent rear mast was upright and many a diver enjoyed diving around it. Many great photographs were taken of this mast and these images appeared in magazines around the world, which in turn created a desire for other divers to come and dive here. Over the years, many liveaboard operators have opted to tie their boats to the top of the mast. Now, alas, the mast is no longer standing in its majestic form. It has been pulled down by the greed and carelessness of the liveaboard operators and their irresponsibility. What fell down last week was not just the mast of the Rosalie Moller. What fell down was the remaining respect that these liveaboard operators, dive guides and divers held for our Red Sea. What also fell down was any final shared sense of responsibility, team work and credibility. Now we will all be punished by the actions of the irresponsible few… and the Red Sea and its spectacular diving will be all the poorer. HEPCA is fed up with the continued resistance for change. We are fed up of being asked to defend and apologise for our actions that are merely the last resort in a battle that has been going on for years to ensure the future sustainability of our Red Sea. It would be wrong for HEPCA and the general diving community to sit back and ignore what is happening. This is the responsibility of every diver, dive guide and diving operator. It is also the responsibility of each and every guest on a dive boat to question the procedures of the crew and guides as they moor on each wreck and reef. It is critical that we all make sure that the tie off points make sense and do not endanger the divers, the wreck or the reef. Just as a diver in the Red Sea should report any activity that adversely affects the marine life, any operator not conserving the wrecks and reefs and demonstrating responsibility should be reported. We appeal to all of you to help save our wrecks. Amr Ali Managing Director HEPCA

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