I am writing to all PADI Members in your area regarding the use of the local Blue Hole dive site for dive tours with newly certified or novice divers.
Some dive operations and dive guides have been taking newly certified or novice divers without deep diving training or experience on dive tours to depths exceeding the limits of those diversí training and experience. Specifically, PADI Americas has been informed that PADI Members are taking newly certified PADI Open Water Divers (or other such novice divers) without deep dive training or experience to depths of 40 metres/130 feet in the Blue Hole. Though PADI Standards define the maximum depth limit for recreational divers with deep dive training or experience as 40 metres/130 feet, even the Deep Adventure Dive in the PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course is limited to a maximum depth of 30 metres/100 feet. Therefore dives in excess of these limits for inexperienced or untrained divers violate the Code of Practice outlined on pages 144 to 146 of the PADI Instructor Manual (2013 English language version), specifically points one, two and ten which state:
1. Put the safety of diving clients and students as your first priority and responsibility. In doing so, abide by the requirements and intent of PADI Standards and Procedures in the PADI Instructor Manual, PADIís Guide to Teaching, Training Bulletin and other updates while applying your best judgment during the PADI courses and programs you conduct.
2. Although scuba diving is a reasonably safe activity when safety rules are followed, the risk/consequence of scuba diving can lead to very serious injuries. Be safety minded, safety conscious and practice instructing and dive mastering professionally.
10. Comply with the intent of the PADI Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding while teaching and supervising.
Although these dive tours may not be course training dives, they may still violate the intent of the PADI Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding and may place insufficiently trained or inadequately equipped divers in harmís way. If your intent is to provide a guided experience for someone without previous deep diving experience or training, consider the level of supervision provided as well as the ratio and the overall depth and whether taking these divers to a depth of 40 metres/130 feet is really necessary to introduce divers to the thrill and excitement of the Blue Hole.
Should an incident occur, your actions while acting in the capacity of a dive professional and PADI Member will be scrutinized. Violating the PADI Standard Safe Diving Practices Statement of Understanding, especially while supervising divers, may increase your liability. Further, depending upon the specific circumstances, this could also jeopardize your PADI membership.
The vast majority of PADI Professionals follow safe diving practices and have the safety and wellbeing of customers as the top priority. However, for the few that may be taking such risks, we ask that you immediately cease taking divers without the appropriate experience or training and equipment to excessive depths.
cc: Belize Tourism Board