News & Updates November ’13

The BSAC Diving Incident Report 2013 has been released

The Annual Diving Incident Report for 2013 is now available to download from the BSAC website. Published by BSAC every year, the 2013 report recorded a total of 263 incidents throughout the UK.
The number of incidents reported this year is about 29% lower than the level of recent years and it follows the trend noted in 2012. This reduction is due to a lower number of incidents reported in the period March to June. It is believed that this was caused by the very poor weather conditions in the UK during this period resulting in a reduced amount of diving taking place. Other highlighted conclusions from the latest report include:

  • The number of fatalities of BSAC members is slightly below the average of the previous 10 years.
  • The number of fatalities of non-BSAC members is in line with the average of the previous 10 years.
  • The causal factors associated with these fatalities and other incidents are very similar to those seen over a number of years; no new causal factors have been identified.
  • Diver age and related health and fitness issues are still featuring as critical factors in this and recent years’ fatalities. The average age of the subjects of this year’s diving fatalities was 52.2. The average age of the background diving population in 2013 is 42.5.
  • Incidents of DCI continue to fall.
  • Ascent related incidents continue to reduce.
  • Incidents relating to ‘Boating & Surface’ events have dropped back to earlier levels.

The above conclusions need to be viewed in the light of a probable overall reduction in the amount of UK diving that has taken place in this period. However, as has been stated many times before, most of the incidents reported within this document could have been avoided had those involved followed a few basic principles of safe diving practice. BSAC publishes a booklet called ‘Safe Diving’ (new edition imminent) which summarises all the key elements of safe diving and is available to all, free of charge, from the http://www.bsac.com/page.asp?section=1019

Help us to keep diving safe – If you have been involved in or witnessed an incident, please report it – in confidence – and help us to continue to shape a safe future for diving. Whether you are BSAC or another agency, a recreational or technical diver or if the incident happened in the UK or overseas, we want to hear about it. All reports are treated in confidence and any details used in future reports will be anonymous.
You can report incidents at any time online.

RNLI scheme helps sea anglers stay safe

A new pilot scheme created by the RNLI is aiming to help keep sea anglers safe while they enjoy their sport. Last year 11 sea anglers tragically lost their lives while fishing in the UK* and the RNLI responded to over 1,200 incidents involving anglers. The RNLI is working with bait and tackle shops to pilot a Retail Ambassador Scheme, in which the charity helps the shops give their customers safety advice.
Chris Adams, RNLI Coastal Safety Manager, said:

‘It is not about preventing people fishing from rocks or exposed shorelines, but helping them take the right steps to enjoy their sport safely. ’

There are some simple things that anglers can do to keep themselves safe:

–          wear a lifejacket

–          Check the weather and tides before you head out

–          Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to be back

–          Carry a means of calling for help

–          If you’re fishing from a boat, keep it well maintained.

*Statistics taken from the National Water Safety Forum’s Water Incident Database (WAID).Download Tackle shops help the RNLI keep anglers safe

England’s bathing waters see record improvement

New figures show that almost 99 per cent of England’s bathing waters meet strict quality standards. Water quality around England’s coasts has dramatically improved since last year, new figures from Defra have revealed today. Nearly all of England’s bathing waters have met strict quality standards, with almost 99 per cent of England’s bathing waters meeting the minimum European water quality standard, and over 82 per cent, the highest ever number of bathing waters – meeting the tighter guideline standard. Environment Minister, Dan Rogerson said: “England’s bathing waters have seen record improvements, meeting the highest standard this year and we need to make sure they continue to remain of good quality. Having quality bathing water and beaches is not only good for the environment but also boosts tourism and creates a stronger local economy. From 2015 the water quality at Britain’s beaches will be measured against stricter levels. The revised EU Bathing Water Directive sets much higher water quality standards which are approximately twice as stringent as the current standards”.

Lord Chris Smith, Chairman of the Environment Agency, said: “The improvement in the quality of UK bathing waters this year is really good news, but with much stricter standards coming into force in 2015, we cannot afford to be complacent. The Environment Agency is working hard with local authorities, businesses and water companies to ensure that bathing waters meet the new standards, and the seaside tourist economy in England continues to thrive”.

Bathing water results for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are published by the Scottish Government, the Welsh Government and the Department of Environment Northern Ireland respectively. For more information on the Improving water quality policy go to: https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/improving-water-quality

Bathing waters in England: 2013 compliance report

New Green Guide for Marinas

A new guide to help marina managers get to grips with environmental legislation and improve waste, energy and water management has been launched by The Green Blue, the environment programme for the British Marine Federation (BMF) and RYA.
Launched at the BMF’s annual 2012 Marina Conference on Thursday 26 April, The Green Guide for Marinas, funded through The Crown Estate’s Marine Stewardship Fund, will be distributed across the UK to each of the 500 coastal and inland marinas.
The free resource sets out the key areas of environmental legislation every marina needs to meet as well as a selection of great ideas on how marinas can make their site and operations more environmentally friendly, with easy to follow practical steps and ideas. The Guide also contains a selection of case studies from marinas around the UK who have already made environmental improvements, including MDL’s Oil Spill Response Strategy and Overwater Marina’s Renewable Energy Project based on ground source heat pump. In most cases, improvements to environmental management have also lead to cost savings, offering an added incentive for marinas to review their environmental performance.
Julian Goldie, Manager of Tollesbury Marina, said: “Sustainability is much higher on the agenda these days for the whole recreational boating sector and to have a hands-on practical manual to provide bespoke advice for marina managers will be incredibly useful.”
Jane Swan from The Green Blue said: “We know that there is a wealth of general environmental advice available for businesses, but we also know that marina managers are busy people who need quick access to practical information relevant to the recreational boating sector. This guide meets those precise needs.”
The Guide is available to download from The Green Blue website: http://www.thegreenblue.org.uk

Water company fined for offences at sewage treatment works

South West Water has been ordered to pay £11,406 in fines and costs for discharging poor quality effluent into a Devon river. The case was brought by the Environment Agency. The water company’s sewage works at Lee Mill near Plymouth receives and treats sewage from homes and businesses in the surrounding area. Treated effluent is discharged into the River Yealm, an important fishery for salmon and sea trout. There is also a shellfishery further downstream.

The effluent, which undergoes biological treatment, must be of a certain quality before it is discharged from the treatment works. The precise standard is laid down in the Environment Agency permit for the site. Levels of ammonia, suspended solids and biochemical oxygen demand (BOD) must be kept within certain limits to minimise any impact on the environment.

Over a 12 month period from January 28, 2011 samples of treated final effluent at Lee Mill exceeded permitted levels on five occasions and were found to be of an unacceptable standard. These breaches included samples containing excessive biochemical oxygen demand and suspended solids.

‘Operators of sewage treatment works must make every effort to remain compliant with their permits. This is especially important where effluent is discharged into catchments like the River Yealm that hold important numbers of salmon and sea trout. These fish are more susceptible to pollution and need much cleaner water than other species,’ said Ted Pritchard for the Environment Agency. Appearing before Plymouth magistrates, South West Water of Peninsula House, Rydon Lane, Exeter was fined a total of £10,000 and ordered to pay £1,406 costs after pleading guilty to five offences of breaching a condition of its permit at Lee Mill sewage treatment works contrary to Environmental Permitting (England and Wales) Regulations 2010. The case was heard on March 19, 2012. Read the full story on the Environment Agency website…

UK beaches blighted by balloons and discarded bags of dog poo

Marine Conservation Society is concerned by rise in bagged excrement despite overall fall in amount of shore litter. Dog poo wrapped in plastic bags discarded by careless owners has emerged as one of the biggest single threats to the health and safety of beach visitors, a marine conservation charity has warned.

The finding is in the latest beach litter data collected by the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) last year and published on Thursday in its Beachwatch Big Weekend Report. The charity says the volume of dog excrement in bags left on UK beaches rose 11% between 2010 and 2011. MCS Beachwatch officer Lauren Davis says “Leaving a bag full of poo on the beach will result in preserved excrement, protected from the elements for years by a bag which could take a long time to break down.” Read the article on the Guardian’s website…

See how you can help keep Britain’s beaches clean, on the Marine Conservation Society’s website…

BSAC gets set to make waves

BSAC’s new marine environment pledge is to be launched at this year’s London International Dive Show. The ‘Divers Making Waves…to protect our seas’ initiative has been created to underpin BSAC’s commitment to a rolling program of marine environment activity throughout 2012, and beyond. Read more on the BSAC website…

23,000 tonnes of rock to be put in place for Medmerry Sea defence scheme

Subject to favourable weather conditions, the final shipment of the 23,000 tonnes of rock that will be used in the Medmerry sea defence scheme will be delivered onto the beach this week. In order to carry out the construction work, access to sections of the beach at either end of the scheme is restricted. The closure of these sections of beach will be minimised whilst this essential work is carried out, especially as there are no alternative routes across this beach. When the project is finally complete the Medmerry frontage between Selsey and Bracklesham will have over 7km of new sea defences, situated further inland than the existing shingle bank. The scheme will also create important new wildlife rich wetlands to offset the anticipated loss of protected intertidal habitats in the Solent over the coming 100 years. It will also open up carefully devised new public access for local communities and visitors to enjoy. Andrew Gilham, Environment Agency Flood and Coastal Risk Manager, said:
“Input from the community has been invaluable in shaping the way in which the project will be delivered as well as their enthusiasm on the added environmental benefits it will bring to the area. We will continue to work closely with community groups, local authorities and our partner environmental organisations, such as the RSPB, throughout construction of this ambitious project.”
The scheme covers the area of more than 300 football pitches and, in addition to new defences, will include new public footpaths, cycle paths and bridleways, two small car parks, and four viewpoints. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

UK’s largest new wetland to be created in Somerset

Planning permission has been granted to create one of the UK’s largest areas of new wildlife habitat on the Steart Peninsula in Somerset. The Environment Agency and the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust (WWT) have worked closely with the local community to develop plans for an innovative flood defence and habitat creation project. Over the next two years 400 hectares of the Steart Peninsula will be turned into wildlife-rich habitats including saltmarsh and freshwater wetland. These internationally important habitats provide vital feeding and breeding grounds for wading birds and wildfowl as well as homes for animals such as water voles and great crested newts. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Help influence the future of our environment

The Environment Agency are currently recruiting volunteers on their flood and coastal committees, to shape local flood and coastal management plans and help influence the future of our environment. The Environment Agency has vacancies on its two Midlands Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCCs). Applications need to be received by Thursday 5 April and we are keen to hear from environmental enthusiasts wanting to join one of our RFCCs. The RFCCs will play an important role in deciding local priorities, raising local levies and approving work. Read more on the Environment Agency website…

Twelve new havens for wildlife announced

New nature zones covering hundreds of thousands of hectares are to be set up across England, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman revealed today. The 12 Nature Improvement Areas (NIA) announced today will each get a share of £7.5 million to create wildlife havens, restore habitats and encourage local people to get involved with nature. From creating heathland on brownfield sites, a seven hectare lagoon and a network of wildlife-friendly dewponds to improving the conditions for birds, butterflies and amphibians, these 12 sites will provide the space for our wildlife to thrive. Read more on the DeFRA website…