New Guidelines For Divers In England

This guidance for divers in England is issued today (Monday 7th April 2014) by the following agencies as a joint statement: BSAC, GUE, PADI, PSAI, SSI, SAA and TDI / SDI.

Marine Management logo_BSAC_GUE_PADI_PSAI_SAA_SDI_SSI_TDI_Rosemary E Lunn_Roz Lunn_The Underwater Marketing Company_MMOBSAC, acting as the National Governing Body for Scuba diving and working with SAA and PADI, has been negotiating on behalf of all divers and diver training agencies with the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) with respect to the interpretation of the legal requirements for divers under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 (MCAA).

After lengthy consultation, a set of guidelines for all divers diving in English waters has now been agreed.  These guidelines enable divers to go about their standard normal diving and training activities without a requirement for a licence and divers can use the guidelines to ensure that they remain within the law.

Activities that do not require a licence include:

•             Deploying and recovering temporary shot lines for divers
•             Using delayed or permanently inflated SMBs
•             Using a lifting bag to recover items which have been underwater for less than 12 months
•             Conducting surveys of shipwrecks by hand
•             Using lifting bags for underwater litterpicks.

For other certain activities, the MMO still requires either prior notification or an application for a licence; the MMO can be consulted for guidance in these cases.  Similar guidance will be available in due course for Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish waters.

All diver-training agencies active in England endorse these guidelines and actively encourage their instructors, members and divers to abide by them.

For further guidance please refer to the Marine Licensing: Guidance for Recreational Divers information sheet.

For all additional queries or questions regarding these new guidelines please contact the Marine Management Organisation (MMO) direct:

Telephone 0300 123 1032 or email

This update has been issued by:

British Sub-Aqua Club (BSAC)
Global Underwater Explorers (GUE)
Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI)
Professional Scuba Association International (PSAI)
Scuba Schools International (SSI)
Sub Aqua Association (SAA)
Scuba Diving International; Technical Diving International (TDI / SDI)

"So who's coming to buy our thresher shark steaks tomorrow?"

It all started in such a mild way. Last week an image, thirteen words, a hashtag and a Twitter address were posted on Twitter by the Greendale Farm Shop.

Greendale Farm Shop, Twitter image of a dead Thresher Shark being cut up

The tweet read;

"So who's coming to buy our thresher shark steaks tomorrow? A 15ft beast! #eatmorefish @TheFishmongers"

Understandably the tweet that the Greendale Farm Shop put up provoked a good deal of reaction by the scuba diving community. We regularly explore the sea, actively promote the conservation of its wildlife, and tend to be better informed about the subject than most of the population.

Greendale Farm Shop, Thresher Shark steaks for sale, Bite-Back, SharkAlliance
An image of the Thresher Shark put out on social media by the Greendale Farm Shop

The Greendale Farm Shop is located in Exeter, England. The following text is copied directly from their website;

"Over the years, Greendale Farm has acquired its own fishing boats who land
their catch at Exmouth, 
just six miles from the farm shop. We are extremely
proud that our boats can catch a fish, land it in  Exmouth and deliver it to a
customer at the farm shop all on the same day so that you cannot beat 
the
freshness of our local fish. Additionally, our knowledgeable fishmongers
are willing to 
prepare, fillet and de-bone your fish whilst you wait."

It is good to see a company taking responsibility for sourcing and tracking their food products, whilst ensuring low food miles. However their behaviour regarding the Thresher Shark sale has been, at best, naive and uneducated.

Greendale Farm Shop, Greendale-Farmer, @TheFishMongers, @GreendaleFrmShp, Thresher Shark, dead shark, @Bite_Back, @hughsfishfight, @sharkangels, @sharkalliance, Project-Aware, CITES, endangered sharks

Greendale Farm Shop state in plain English on their website they they have their own fishing boats and knowledgeable fishmongers. However it is currently unclear whether this Thresher Shark was a deliberate haul, an accidental by-catch, caught by Greendale's fishing fleet, or whether it was purchased in from another vessel.

Greendale Farm Shop, Thresher Shark, Marine Management Organisation, Guidance on the protection of shark, skate and ray species protected by fisheries and wildlife legislation, April 2013

What is clear is that all three Thresher Shark species are listed as VULNERABLE by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

The following three images have been taken from the Marine Management Organisation 'Guidance on the protection of shark, skate and ray species protected by fisheries and wildlife legislation, April 2013'.
MMO_Big-Eyed-Thresher
MMO-Thresher-shark
MMO_Catch-reporting-of-sharks

Following a tirade of complaints by scuba divers, the Greendale Farm Shop have subsequently removed their social media accounts.

In the meantime Gourmet Britain (your guide to the best of British gourmet food) was contacted regarding the above sale of Thresher Shark meat. Their response is as follows;

"Many thanks for your Email about The Greendale Farm Shop.

We are sorry you were upset about the light hearted attitude to their selling of Thresher Sharks.

I think you will find that their sale is an occasion, as sometimes they become tangle in nets and would simply die if returned to the sea - so it's better they are of use to someone.

Perhaps you could boycott their shop, explaining why - but in our case, the shop as so much 'going' for it, we cannot see Thresher Sharks on our endangered list (and we are not political animals) - so we will not be displaying your comments.

Yours
Simon Scrutton"