New Law in Florida - Dive Flags AND Dive Buoys
Friday, June 13, 2014
Posted by: Rachelle Reimers
in Florida - Dive Flags AND Dive Buoys
On Friday June 13th
Florida Governor Rick Scott signed HB 1049 into law in the state. This
bill provides divers with additional choices for marking their position in the
water by allowing either a traditional divers-down flag OR a divers-down
buoy. This legislation was sought as a means of increasing diver
visibility and diver safety on the waterways, and was supported by DEMA as a
way to enhance safety and the diving experience.
The current law requires divers
to display a "divers-down flag," a square or rectangular red flag
with a white diagonal stripe, in the area where diving occurs. Divers are
required to conduct their diving activities within a certain distance to the
flag, and vessels are required maintain a certain distance from the flags,
depending on the location of the activity. The new law allows divers to
use a buoy in place of a flag when the buoy is a specified size and when the
diver is diving independent of a vessel. Flags are still required when
diving from a vessel.
According to the new law,
"divers-down buoy" means a buoyant device, other than a vessel, which
displays a divers-down symbol of at least 12 inches by 12 inches on three or
four flat sides, which is prominently visible on the water's surface when in
Divers must make a reasonable
effort to stay within 100 feet of the divers-down flag or buoy on rivers,
inlets, and navigation channels. Similarly, any person operating a vessel
must make a reasonable effort to stay more than 100 feet from the divers-down
flag or buoy in these areas.
Divers must make reasonable
efforts to stay within 300 feet of the divers-down flag or buoy on all waters
other than rivers, inlets, and navigation channels. Any person operating
a vessel on waters other than a river, inlet, or navigation channel must make a
reasonable effort to maintain a distance of at least 300 feet from any
divers-down flag or buoy.
In both locations vessels that
approach within the required distance must proceed no faster than is necessary
to maintain headway and steerageway.
Any violation of the law
results in a noncriminal infraction punishable by a civil penalties and a
requirement that the person appears before the county court. The bill
also requires boater education and safety courses to include a component
regarding divers-down buoys and diver-down flags.
In partnership with the Safe
Boating Association, DEMA has issued a Public Service Announcement regarding
diver-down flags, and has made this PSA available to television stations in
many different states including Florida. The PSA can be seen here.
The new law goes into effect on
July 1, 2014. For more information, see the bill here.