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New diving rules for Silfra fissure could cut number of divers by up to 70%

By Staff

  • Diving in Silfra As many as 50,000 people visit the fissure every year. That figure is likely to drop, due to new stricter rules. Photo/Vilhelm 

New stricter rules on diving in Silfra fissure in Þingvellir national park are expected to cut down the number of visitors by as much as 70%. One of the primary goals of the new rules, imposed after a traveller died while snorkeling at the fissure on Friday, is to cut down the number of visitors. Friday's accident was the fifth fatal accident at the fissure since 2010.

Read more: Silfra fissure re-opened: Stricter rules imposed, limits on the number of divers

The managers of two of the diving tour companies which offer diving tours at the fissure told the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service RÚV that the new rules will have a drastic impact on the number of visitors. Currently the fissure is visited by 50,000 people each year, 40,000 guests who snorkel and 10,000 who go on diving tours.

The new stricter rules
The new rules stipulate that divers must have a PADI certificate for dry suit diving. Wet suit diving will be banned at the fissure. The ratio of guests to diving guides will be reduced from four to one to three to one. 

The ratio of guides to guests in snorkeling tours will also be reduced from eight guests per guide to six guests per guide. 

All guests who wish to either dive or snorkel at the fissure will be required to fill out and sign a form on their physical condition, certifying that they know how to swim. Park rangers have argued that some of the guests at Silfra barely know how to swim.

Park Rangers will also conduct more frequent unannounced spot checks at the fissure to ensure that all tour companies are operating according to the rules. A spokesman for the park told the local TV station Stöð 2 that the park and tour companies were in total agreement about the importance of the new rules.

Read more: Park rangers want stricter rules at Silfra: poorly prepared divers, some "barely know how to swim"

The owner and manager of one of the diving companies which operate at Silfra told RÚV that very few visitors at the fissure have a dry suit certification. Only a fraction of the guests who currently go diving in the fissure would therefore be able to dive. He expects many of these people will instead opt for a snorkeling tour. 

 

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