New Zealand-based diving company The Dive Spot Limited has been fined NZD 50,000 and its co-director and skipper Mark Andrew Barnes fined NZD 25,000 for the death of diver Bruce Porter on 7 February 2014, Maritime New Zealand reports.
Reparations of NZD 50,000 and NZD 30,000 are also to be paid by The Dive Spot Limited and Barnes, respectively.
Porter died after being struck by a propeller while on a diving trip to the Poor Knights Islands. The incident occurred after the anchor of the vessel Pacific Hideaway became snagged on the third dive of the trip. Barnes asked Porter to dive down to unsnag the anchor, but a crewman on board the vessel then freed the anchor using the winch.
Barnes believed Porter understood there was no need to dive, but due to a miscommunication between the two, Porter had entered the water and was struck by the propeller when the vessel’s engines were put into gear.
Maritime New Zealand prosecuted the company and Barnes for failing to take all practicable steps to ensure that no action or inaction at work caused harm to any person.
Both parties pleaded guilty to the charges and were sentenced in Whangarei District Court.
Maritime New Zealand Deputy Director Lindsay Sturt said the tragic incident was entirely avoidable. The risk from propellers was not included in the vessel’s hazard register, nor was it mentioned in the briefing for divers on the day of the accident.
In addition, the company did not have a clear system of communicating with divers about their entry into the water, nor did it have a clear policy that passenger divers were never asked to dive to free anchors.