Warning to Divers - Severe safety hazard near or on the Olympic Wreck

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Posted by Elaine on July 27, 2008 at 16:31:26:

Warning: Potential Diver Safety Hazard near, possibly very near or on, the Olympic Wreck

Warning: Gill Nets are extremely hazardous to divers of any skill level. You can easily be killed by one no matter how careful that you are. Please approach the area of the Olympic with extreme caution or, better yet, avoid it! Visibility is very limited (5 feet max) on the Olympic right now!

Today I was diving off a private boat at the wreck of the Olympic. As we got near to the wreck, we noticed one of those black flags that I believe indicates the presence of an active Gill Net. We looked for another "Black Flag" to determine the direction that the gill net was running. To our shock, it appeared that the net was possibly making a line across the Olympic Wreck!

I previously saw, and photographed (along with others) the amount of damage that a gill net can do to marine life. However, this post is not about marine life - this post is about human life. Every major dive charter boat in Southern California visits the wreck of the Olympic. It is also a popular dive destination for divers on private boats. It is, and has been for many years, one of the most popular coastal dive sites that we have. Unfortunately, the law prohibits Gill Netting within three miles of the Coast and the Olympic sits approximately 3 1/4 miles from the coast.

Perhaps due to the rising cost of fuel, fishermen are casting their nets closer to shore much more frequently. I don't think that any fisherman would intentionally set their nets in an area where humans are likely to be killed by them. I doubt that commercial fishermen look at their nautical charts and try to avoid our dive sites. The law says gill netting is legal as long as they are three miles out - so, that is where the fishermen put their nets.

This law is now creating a human safety hazard and it needs to be changed. The State of California can not continue to ignore that recreational divers and gill netters are using the same locations. It is an oversight that is as dangerous as allowing killing machines on public golf courses!

The economy of the fishing industry is important to the State of California. The economy of our dive boats, dive shops, and local dive industry is important also. Most divers work very hard to be able to afford to dive - we pay huge amounts of tax revenue. Sites like the Olympic Wreck need to be available for recreational use! Killing machines have no place on or around our public dive sites! The Olympic is not the only popular dive site outside the standard "Three Mile Limit" - it is just one that I happen to frequent the most. I do not think that the California Fish and Game Commission would intentionally make laws that can set up situations which will kill innocent people - I hope that they will expediently examine this law and move the netters off of public recreation areas.

I feel like I should post an "all points bulletin" so no inocent people die but I don't think there is a way to do it. This post is the best that I could come up with. If anyone knows of more ways to get the warning out - please use it!

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