Recreational snorkelling – Do you know the rules?


If you operate any charter vessel that includes recreational snorkelling as part of the activities you must ensure you have an appropriate procedure in place. Failure to have a recreational snorkelling procedure in place leaves you wide open to serious litigation in the event of an incident,

Recreational snorkelling – Do you know the rules?

While recreational snorkelling is a fun and a great experience it also has many dangers associated with it. Dangers that can and have resulted in minor injuries through to loss of life.

The good news is there is a Code of Practice in place which is the Recreational Diving, Recreational Technical Diving and Snorkelling Code of Practice 2018.

Section 4 Control measures for recreational snorkelling covers off on all the factors that must be taken into account when undertaking recreational diving operations.

The key points are:

  • Assessing snorkellers
  • Medical fitness
  • Control measures for at risk snorkelers
  • Supervision of snorkelers in open water
  • Appropriate skills and knowledge
  • Instruction and advice to non-English speaking persons
  • Equipment for snorkelling

You must ensure you cover all of the above and how you are going to achieve them, i.e how are you going to assess snorkelers and their medical fitness, do they need floatation devices, etc.?

You must also undertake a snorkelling risk assessment which is to be prepared by the snorkelling supervisor and should include:

  • Currents
  • Weather
  • Surface conditions
  • visibility

in addition you must specify the number and location of supervisory personnel taking into account:

  • the size, type and location of the snorkelling site
  • environmental conditions
  • number of people snorkelling in the water
  • ability of snorkellers
  • skills and abilities of supervisory personnel
  • type and effectiveness of rescue and communications equipment.

While all of this may sound like a lot it’s critical information to keep your clients and workers safe and minimise the potential for something to go wrong!

Shorlink’s Recommendation

Our number one recommendation is to ensure you have a procedure in place for recreational diving and that all the necessary equipment, both snorkeling and rescue items are in place and in good condition.

Secondly make sure you have a rescue plan in the event a snorkeler or snorkelers get into trouble, especially children.


Make the effort to check your safety and rescue equipment every day before undertaking any diving activities. You don’t want to be in a situation where your faced with an emergency and the rescue equipment fails!