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Life jackets, buddy system now required for at-risk snorkellers

A new industry code of practice has been rolled out in Queensland in a bid to end reef deaths. But will it be enough?


Reef-bound tourist boats are now required to carry an automatic external defibrillator and at-risk reef snorkellers will be made to don life jackets and swim in pairs, after a new code of practice was adopted in Queensland this week.


The code gives Great Barrier Reef operators the authority to obtain medical declarations, Queensland Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace said, according to the ABC.


"If they identify someone who they believe may require a floatation device or to be colour-coded or to buddy up, they will now be able to use the code to enforce that."


The code was drawn up in a bid to limit the number of medical emergencies on the reef following the death of ten people on the Great Barrier Reef in 2016.


While a spokesperson from the Association of Marine Park Tourism Operators welcomed the changes, they warned that people would still die on the reef.


"The simple reality is the biggest market is the baby boomers, and the baby boomers are old and lack physical fitness. They are going to have medical emergencies — how we respond to that is critical."


The spokesperson said the best thing to come out of the recommendations would be the arrival of a second rescue helicopter in Cairns. 


Apparently, there has only been one helicopter that services an area the size of Tasmania.


"We'll be able to get people off the reef when they have had a problem, that's going to be an even bigger step forward than tweaking the code of practice.”


Written by: Gaya Avery
Published: 9 February 2018

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