Beyond the sea
In mobilizing divers to be a force for good, scuba diving can help to promote marine conservation. Here are three ways in which ISO standards support this effort.
Scuba diving is the passion of millions of people around the globe, all with one thing in common – a love of the underwater world. However, if practised irresponsibly, diving activities can leave their own mark on the marine environment. To meet the growing demand for subaquatic adventures, ISO has two standards on sustainable diving – ISO 21416 and ISO 21417. Setting a benchmark for the industry, these standards promote diving techniques that preserve the marine ecosystems while strengthening divers’ commitment towards pro-environmental behaviour.
Scuba diving is the passion of millions of people around the globe.
If a training programme holds these standards, it means that participating divers have had a thorough grounding in improving environmental awareness and sustainable environmental practices within the diving community. Encompassing activities such as snorkelling and free diving, the measures help to promote sustainable tourism and, ultimately, preserve the natural environment around which the industry is built.
Eco-friendly dive centres
Whether a complete beginner or seasoned enthusiast, divers want to be able to focus all of their attention on the aquatic environment. The goal of diving centres is to help them safely enjoy the underwater world and develop an awareness of its delicate nature. At the heart of the scuba diving industry, they are the places from which people dive, earn certifications or rent equipment.
Training programmes are a vital part of diving, so ISO 24803 guarantees that diving centres uphold best practices when it comes to everything from staff training to emergency equipment. Developed by a team of international experts, it helps to standardize training conditions in an industry that reaches some of the most far-flung corners of the globe. Projects are also now ongoing to standardize training with the notoriously difficult – but increasingly popular – rebreather apparatus.
Divers want to be able to focus all of their attention on the aquatic environment.
Knowing how to evaluate a diving centre is important as personal safety depends on being given good equipment and tuition. Standards give divers confidence that, whether they are 20 m below the surface in the Caribbean or taking their first diving steps in Thailand, they are diving with the safest, most professional people around. In Egypt, for example, we are already seeing the benefits. The nationwide adoption of ISO 24803 has resulted in a marked improvement in the quality and safety of diving centres across the country, with positive repercussions on the marine environment. As a consequence, many diving certification cards issued in the country now display the ISO standard.
Deep sea research
The skill set of a diver means that they can play a vital role in conducting scientific work underwater. From collecting samples to protecting cultural heritage sites, these divers must combine a knowledge of scientific methodology and environmental protection with diving aptitude and safety.
The field is currently regulated in different ways depending on geography and the organizations involved, a complicated process that is set to be streamlined by a unified scientific diving framework. Currently in development, the three-part ISO 8804 will define the training requirements for three levels of scientific divers, providing the community with guidance on safe practice under varying experimental and environmental conditions.
ISO standards for diving are developed by technical committee ISO/TC 228, Tourism and related services.