Only authorised commercial divers are allowed to dive within St Peter Port and St Sampson's Harbours. If a diver/dive team is requested please contact Guernsey Harbours on +44 (0)1481 220229 or email.
Hyperbaric Chamber Service for Divers
All commercial divers intending to dive within Guernsey's 12 mile limit, are required to notify the Committee for Health and Social Care of their intention to dive in Guernsey territorial waters.
Please inform the Princess Elizabeth Hospital by email at firstname.lastname@example.org of intended dive dates, including where and the depth/duration of the dive/s.
Use of the Hyperbaric Chamber - for commercial and leisure divers:
Any diver (either commercial or recreational) requiring the use of the hyperbaric chamber at the Princess Elizabeth Hospital will be charged for their treatment by the States of Guernsey. These charged are set and reviewed by the Committee for Health and Social Care on a periodic basis. The current charges can be found on the chamber's webpage.
In the event any diver is suspected of suffering from decompression illness, contact should be made with the Princess Elizabeth Hospital's Emergency Department on 01481 220000.
For clarity, the arrangements that have been put in place will be appended to the permit and by accepting the permit the commercial operator is:
- Agreeing they deem these arrangements suitable to meet their responsibilities under the applicable Approved Code of Practice, if the commercial operator does not consider them suitable it is the commercial operators responsibility not to commence the dive.
- Agreeing to follow the procedure outlined with the permit for pending treatment.
Applications for permits to dive shall be made to the Harbourmaster in the form of the provision of RAMS for the specific diving activity. Standing permits may be considered to regular activities such as diving on moorings within the Pool area or diving on particular, regular vessels (for example). This will be considered on a case by case basis. Unless in an emergency, 2 working days will be required for the RAMS to be reviewed and a permit issued. Please note Guernsey VTS will not authorise a dive until they are in receipt of a copy of the dive permit.
The specific areas covered by this arrangement are, under The Harbours Ordinance, 1988, the Harbour of St Peter Port is defined as the area west of a line drawn between the eastern extremity of the castle breakwater and the south eastern extremity of the white rock pier and the QE2 marina. The Harbour of St Sampson's is defined as the harbour area to the west of a line drawn from the northern extremity of the rubble mound surrounding Longue Hougue Basin to the south eastern extremity of the northern pier and includes the Longue Hougue Basin.
A Code of Practice written in the UK to clarify the Diving At Work Regulations, was approved by the States of Guernsey after consultation with the local professional diving industry. Several amendments were included, in particular local professional divers were granted a period of "grandfather rights" prior to holding an approved professional diving qualification. Therefore all professional divers operating locally, must hold an approved diving qualification, no later than 1 May 2002.
Issues dealt with in the Codes include matters such as diving project planning and risk assessment; dive teams and associated working practices; diving plant and medical checks.
More information on diving contractors and commercial shellfish diving in inshore waters can be found in Health and Safety Executive downloads
The sport of amateur diving is loosely regulated in the islands by two organisations, PADI (the Professional Association of Dive Instructors) and BSAC (the British Sub-Aqua Club). Both organisations operate strict training regimes which include both theory and practical instruction and whilst this instruction can be on a non-commercial basis, the popularity of the sport has seen BSAC and PADI approved schools being set up to operate on a commercial basis.
Health & Safety legislation does not extend to the private individual diving for recreational purposes, however when that individual is being taught by a trained instructor who is charging a fee for monetary gain, the law is applicable.
The instructor and school have explicit duties to their students in exactly the same way the States of Guernsey's Education Services have to school children whilst in their care; or Beau Sejour have to customers attending a concert in the sports hall.
It was therefore decided that in order to clarify the duties of instructors operating for gain that the Approved Code of Practice made in the United Kingdom, under "The Diving at Work Regulations, 1997", should be approved with certain amendments locally.
The code of practice, written in co-operation with BSAC and PADI, is therefore very relevant to the local diving scene. However, failure to observe the code is not an offence in itself but it can be taken as proving that the defendant has failed to comply with the Health and Safety at Work (General) (Guernsey) Ordinance, 1987, unless he can demonstrate that he has complied with the Ordinance in some alternative and equally effective way.
Diving on historic wreck
The importance of historic wreck
Each item of historic wreck found provides valuable information about the Island's maritime heritage. The States of Guernsey's Culture and Heritage Services wishes to work alongside divers in learning more about that heritage.
Protecting historic wreck
The Wreck and Salvage (Vessel and Aircraft) (Bailiwick of Guernsey) Laws 1986-98 are designed to protect historic wreck from unscrupulous individuals, not to prevent the enjoyment of responsible divers. Historic wreck is made up of any vessel or aircraft which has lain wrecked for 50 years or more, any cargo of such a vessel and any cargo or other object lost or abandoned for 50 years or more.
What do I do if I find historic wreck?
Historic Wreck found in Guernsey territorial waters is owned by the States of Guernsey and automatically comes under the authority of the Receiver of Wreck at Sir Charles Frossard House, La Charroterie, St. Peter Port, Guernsey, GY1 1FH (telephone 01481 227000). You must not tamper with or remove historic wreck unless you have written license from Culture and Heritage Services via this form. This includes excavation of the seabed at the site. Objects found away from obvious wreck sites may be brought ashore if it is likely that they are in danger of destruction or loss provided that they can be lifted without damaging any wreck or site, and also that the find is reported and handed over. The location of the find should be noted and carefully recorded. Culture and Heritage Services acknowledges that it is often difficult to ascertain whether or not an object falls within the definition of historic wreck.
How do I obtain a license to dive on historic wreck?
Culture and Heritage Services is mandated to issue licenses which allow responsible persons or bodies within Guernsey territorial waters to 'work on' or 'remove' historic wreck and to salvage historic wreck in a restricted area. A small fee is charged for the license. The size of the fee will be determined by Culture and Heritage Services based on the importance of the wreck and whether salvage operations are to be undertaken. It should be noted that an application for a license will not automatically result in the issue of a license.
What happens to historic wreck after it has been received?
Culture and Heritage Services will decide whether the object should become part of the Guernsey Museum collection. Culture and Heritage Services will also negotiate possible compensation with the diver based on a percentage of the value of the object. If it decides to sell the object the diver will be given the first opportunity to buy it from the States of Guernsey on the basis of an independent valuation, less the compensation to which the diver is entitled.
What penalties apply if I break the law?
The maximum penalty is confiscation of diving equipment and the diver's boat and a fine of up to £2000 and / or prison term of up to two years.
Approved Codes of Practice
Recreational and inland/inshore diving Approved Codes of Practice are available using this link on the States of Guernsey website.
The Approved Code of Practice in inland/inshore diving requires that a person should not act as a diving contractor without submitting relevant particulars to the Health and Safety Executive.
There are a small number of local companies that can carry out diving operations. Swimming and diving within Guernsey Harbours is prohibited without the express permission of the Harbourmaster. All Diving within Guernsey Harbours must be approved by the Harbourmaster and be carried out to Guernsey HSE standards, which are equivalent to those applicable in the UK.