Jetties attract a large and varied amount of marine life and are important structures for the sports of scuba diving, freediving and snorkelling as locations for training, unique dive experiences, marine citizen science research, and underwater photography. They are also easy dive sites for those with disabilities. The State’s jetties serve a South Australian diving community of 50,000 certified divers. They have the potential to attract thousands more from a global community of 28 million active divers.
Their importance to the community in general and the dive community in particular has been recognised in South Australia. The Scuba Divers Federation of South Australia (SDFSA) was recently invited by the South Australia Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) to prepare a written submission on what should be considered in a State-wide jetty management plan.
The Federation made several recommendations to ensure that these havens for marine life and divers alike are maintained and safe for the enjoyment of all. These recommendations included safety and accessibility measures like: Good design of wide stairs with non-slip treads and handrails, and subsurface platforms; Availability of safety equipment (life buoys, etc.); Discourage the potential presence of sharks (enforcing rules against dumping unused bait, etc.); Clear signage and enforcement of rules (eg, no spearfishing); Consider accessibility for disabled persons taking up the sport. Adequate parking near jetties, benches for gearing up and places to lock gear trolleys near jetty stairs; Shade/sun protection, seating, toilets and fresh water sources.
Environmental issue have also been considered in the report with a focus on enforcing littering fines for those who damage the ecosystem by allowing plastic bags and other debris to blow into the water; ecosystem impacts of changes to jetties (damaging ecosystems through the removal of pylons; ensuring jetty surfaces allow light penetration below).
Investment in research should be considered, this will increase the appreciation of the value of the SCUBA industry to the State economy, plus find ways to promote SA diving nationally and internationally.
It is good to see that jetties are being given the recognition they deserve as prime diving locations.
Report author: Heather Creech
Photo Credit: Heather Creech