Tour OperatorsCall for operators at Sabah’s Sipadan island to better assess diver’s competency and safety

Dive tour operators urged to take greater responsibility

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Dive tour operators conducting tours to Sipadan Island in Sabah, Malaysia, have been urged to “play their role” in assessing the competency of divers.
Dive tour operators conducting tours to Sipadan Island in Sabah, Malaysia, have been urged to “play their role” in assessing the competency of divers. Photo Credit: Cn0ra/Getty Images
Dive masters will be able to choose appropriate dive sites based on the competency of divers. Divers with poor buoyancy would likely destroy marine live and also endanger their lives following the strong currents in Sipadan,– Semporna Professional Divers Association president Abdul Razak Ismail

SEMPORNA – Tour operators in diver’s paradise Sipadan island in the eastern Malaysian state of Sabah have been urged to take greater responsibility in handling divers as more diving permits are being issued.

A social media post has surfaced on the practice of new divers being “dragged around by their tanks” by dive masters at the South Point off Sipadan Island, prompting questions about how operators are assessing the competency of divers before allowing them to dive at these waters.

A certified and competent diver should be able to control his or her buoyancy and move around independently.

This has sparked questions of whether the increased number of Sipadan diving permits issued daily from 120 to 176 in May has led operators to accept more divers regardless of their skills and competency.

Commenting on the post, Semporna Professional Divers Association president Abdul Razak Ismail said that operators “should play their roles and dive marshals should monitor such activities at the island”.

He said measures such as a check dive the day before divers are due to go to Sipadan island should be in place. He warned against discovery scuba diving (for non-divers) at the island.

“Dive masters will be able to choose appropriate dive sites based on the competency of divers. Divers with poor buoyancy would likely destroy marine live and also endanger their lives following the strong currents in Sipadan,” he said.

He said check dives and briefings should also be conducted for non-local dive masters for them to better understand Sipadan prior to bringing their guests.

“It is best for dive operators to hire local dive masters who are familiar with their own areas.

“But it is worrying that operators are more keen on having dive masters from overseas just because the hiring cost is lower compared to professional local guides,” Abdul Razak said, adding that he hopes the state government would continue to provide courses for locals to assist the development of the dive industry in Sabah.


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