Well… I have been hearing a number of stories lately of local (Tulum and Akumal) Divemasters and guides actually spearfishing while guiding a group of divers. In one case, divers from our shop actually witnessed and were a bit shocked at seeing a group of divers carrying loot bags which the guide was busily filling with lobsters, octupus and all sorts of fish. That his divers willingly participated even shows a lack of common sense. In this instance it was actually the owner of the dive shop on Tulum beach who was leading and fishing, if you want to call it that.
I have also personally seen (and yelled at) a captain of the same boat, fishing with a hand line from their moored boat while he had divers down and when we were about to start our dive also from the same mooring. This is not only ignorant but fundamentally dangerous, it is also a common practice and my own captains were doing it sometimes until they realized they would lose their jobs if I found out. Am I kidding myself, some of them probably still do it when I’m not around.
In one instance of a diver from Akumal who I was recently talking to, there were two divemasters on her dive and both were busily fishing away while she was supposedly being led on a dive. She could hardly even get their attention. I won’t name any names but lets just say it was one of the best known shops.
In my opinion, such behaviour on the part of dive leaders displays a wanton disregard not only for the laws of the land but also for the health of our reefs. So called professional divers have a responsibility to be an example of reef conservation. We teach divers not to touch anything on the reefs and leave only bubbles and meanwhile some are busily illegally raping them right in front of clients and in some cases even enrolling their help.
The owners of dive shops have a responsibility to ensure that their staff follow safe, legal standards and in my opinion also have a responsibility to do their best to ensure that everything possible is done to maintain or even improve the health of their local reefs.
I invite anyone interested in reading on the subject of (un)sustainable fishing and degradation of the health of our seas and oceans to read the following books:
Ref: A Sea Change by Sylvia Earle
Ref: The Unnatural History of the Sea by Callum Roberts