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September 2010    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 36, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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California Legislature Declares Diving ŇHazardousÓ

from the September, 2010 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Come January 1, scuba diving in California will be legally designated as a hazardous activity. A new law signed by Governor Schwarznegger is designed to release state and local governments from liability in lawsuits associated with diving. Surfing, water-skiing, windsurfing, kayaking and white-water rafting are also on the list.

“Fear of frivolous lawsuits has hampered efforts to expand recreational activities in many communities,” says Assemblywoman Diane L. Harkey. The legislation was backed by California Ships to Reefs, a nonprofit organization that hopes to establish a regional system of reefed ships along the California coast. It was created with wreck diving in mind because “diving in and near sunken ships can be hazardous, requiring special training and equipment beyond that for normal scuba diving,” Harkey said. Because the government will no longer be held liable in lawsuits in which a diver is injured or killed while diving, coastal communities may be more likely to create artificial reefs - - a benefit to both the marine environment and to divers interested in exploring them.

California Ships to Reefs chairman Joel Geldin said, “We are enthusiastic about the new unlimited opportunities to create a network of artificial reefs on the state’s coastline, improving ocean life and enhancing our recreational diving and fishing industries.”

- - based on a report by Kelly Burgess of the Los Angeles Times

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