Improper use of SMBs and diver-down flags

SMBs need to have a diver attached (Mark Murphy)
SMBs need to have a diver attached (Mark Murphy)

Rescue services on Jersey in the Channel Islands were sent out at 3.45 in the morning last week following reports of a scuba diver in difficulty – only to find that a diver’s surface marker buoy had been used to mark a crab or lobster pot.

A member of the public who had been up and about early had noted that the SMB was stationary at a site called Bonne Nuit, with nobody in sight. 

“Scuba divers and snorkellers use SMBs to indicate their position and movements to passing boats and personal watercraft-users,” stated the none-too-pleased Coastguard after the call-out. “They are not intended to be used to mark other underwater objects.

“We tasked rescue assets to investigate and discovered that the SMB was being used to mark crab / lobster pots on the seabed. Please help reduce false alerts like this by only using SMBs to mark divers or swimmers in the water and for no other purpose.”

Lobster larceny

During the recent lobster-hunting “mini-season”, Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers charged three men for possession of what was almost four times the legal limit of 36 spiny lobsters – but caught the culprits only because their commercial boat was still flying a diver-down flag while underway.

“Stopping the vessel to speak to the operator about the incorrect use of the dive-flag, they conducted a routine fisheries inspection, discovering a total of 138 lobsters!” stated the officers. 

Meanwhile, another lobster-related story from the Florida Keys shows that divers with nefarious intent need to beware of eyes in the sky. 

An FWC aircraft crew spotted a scuba diver on a commercial lobster trap-line handing spiny lobsters up to two other men on a boat on 22 August. Once all the traps had been cleared the trio set off to land their catch at the nearby town of Layton but, seeing two officers waiting on the dock, sped away in a bid to elude them. 

Eventually forced to dock – by which time they had dumped many of the stolen lobsters – Enrique Airado, Luis Airado and Carlos Castillo were arrested. 

Each of the men, all in their 60s, was charged with trap molesting, fleeing and eluding police, tampering with evidence and interfering with a police officer.

Also on Divernet: Dive Like A Pro: Deploying a DSMB, No SMB so prop-death captain released, Boat hit diver after warning flag ignored


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