Hopes of an early resumption of dive charter-boat operations in England have been dashed with the publication by the UK government of new guidance to the industry yesterday (11 June).
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has specified that operators “should not allow skippered dayboat hire or skippered day charter-boat hire”. There is no indication of how long the restriction is likely to remain in place.
The British Sub Aqua Club, the sport’s governing body, had published detailed guidance on divers’ use of charter-boats on 21 May, in readiness for an easing of restrictions on boat-diving in England.
Constraints on private and club boat-diving were relaxed at the start of June, as reported on Divernet, and it had been widely assumed that the same would apply to charter-boats as operators took the necessary steps to comply with coronavirus safety requirements.
The new DEFRA document is understood to cover both diving and fishing dayboat charters, with no exemptions. The Professional Charter Association (PCA), “the independent voice of the boat charter industry”, appeared to have had no warning of the decision.
In response to a comment on its social media it said that the document had “taken many weeks to publish – despite us asking for notice”.