SDFSA: Issues of importance

Port Noarlunga Jetty access

Update November 2018: The old stairs at the end of the jetty were torn off in the recent November storms, and are now lying in the water next to the jetty.


The Port Noarlunga Reef Aquatic Reserve isone of the most popular dive and snorkeling sites in the state. It is home to Port Jackson shark aggregations as well as a wide variety of marine life. It is used for dive training, night dives, and is one of the sites regularly monitored by ReefWatch SA for the health of habitat, fish and invertebrate populations.

The stairs at the end of the jetty were often crowded with divers, snorkelers and swimmers of all ages. The middle stairs are more difficult to use and cannot be used for exiting the water at low tide. The jetty is managed by the District Council of Onkaparinga.

SDFSA is working with the Council on proposals to rebuild the stairs at the end of the jetty to accommodate the growing number of users. Onkaparinga Council has set aside $300,000 for the project.

No work is planned for the foreseeable future to extend the middle stairs to allow safer entry and exits for divers and snorkelers.

Rapid Bay use and upgrades

Update November 2018: Concerns have been raised about divers spearfishing near the old jetty at Rapid Bay. SDFSA understands that the jetty itself is not in the Marine Park designated sanctuary zone; however, because the old jetty is still listed as an official jetty, the rule prohibiting spearfishing within 100 metres of a jetty applies. We encourage divers to inform any spearfishers they see at Rapid Bay of this rule.


Rapid Bay lies within the Encounter Marine Park and is recognized as one of the premier dive sites in the state, providing habitat for the iconic leafy seadragon among many other species.

The site is popular with divers, snorkelers and fishers, including a growing number of interstate and international tourists looking for the leafy seadragon. The site consists of two jetties (old and new) and extensive seagrass beds. The old jetty is still listed as an official jetty; both old and new jetties are the responsibility of the District Council of Yankalilla. Rapid Bay is also the site of a former open pit aggregates mine, with the surrounding land still owned by Adelaide Brighton Cement.

SDFSA is advocating for strengthening the surrounding habitat and facilities at Rapid Bay to improve its draw for local, interstate and international divers. SDFSA is encouraging Adelaide Brighton to pursue its plans for revegetation on its land, which will contribute to improving the surrounding marine environment and biodiversity. We are also working with Yankalilla Council on possible improvements to the site. The Council is currently considering the possibility of placing change rooms, toilets, fresh water taps, picnic tables and shade structures for the benefit of divers and other jetty users. They are working with the private landowners (Adelaide Brighton, etc.) to assess whether this is achievable.

Other SA jetties

Jetties provide excellent shelter and habitat for marine life as well as safe and easy access for divers, especially for trainees, open water and night divers. SDFSA monitors and reports on jetty access and use across the State.
Franklin Harbour jetty: The jetty has been closed for repairs in 2018, including replacement of structural supports and installation of new jetty stairs.
Port Stanvac jetty: In 2016, Exxon Mobil and the State government began work to tear down the historic jetty, on the grounds that the jetty was not safe, in spite of efforts by the diving and fishing communities to retain the jetty for recreational purposes.
Whyalla: A new 165m “loop” jetty (with a circular boardwalk in the middle) is expected to be completed by the end of 2019.

Artificial reefs

Update September 2018: The wreck of the Oceanlinx wave energy generator at Carrickalinga will be dismantled and the submerged portions turned into an artificial reef.

Artificial reefs are typically man-made structures designed to create an environment for marine life. They include purpose-sunk vessels, groupings of old tyres, and other objects. The placement and construction of artificial reefs are regulated under the Commonwealth Environment Protection (Sea Dumping) Act 1981. See a useful fact sheet on artificial reefs, covering permits, resources, site determination and layout, materials and monitoring.

While some marine conservation groups have expressed concern about artificial reefs and their impact on the environment, in general SDFSA supports these structures if they are developed in consultation with local communities and users (fishers, divers, etc) and the materials used have been cleaned of oil and other potentially toxic substances and will not contribute to a deterioration of the surrounding environment.

The Premier of South Australia, Stephen Marshall, committed at the time of the 2018 election to the construction of three new artificial reefs.

List of SA artificial reefs as of 2018 from theBonzle Digital Atlas of Australia (

Ardrossan (Barge) Artificial Reef, SA
Giles Point (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Glenelg (Dredge) Artificial Reef, SA
Glenelg (Sunken barge) Artificial Reef, SA
Glenelg (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Grange (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Kingscote (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Port Augusta (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Port Broughton (Car bodies) Artificial Reef, SA
Port Germein (Pipes) Artificial Reef, SA
Port Lincoln (Sunken vessel) Artificial Reef, SA
Port Neill (Sunken vessel) Artificial Reef, SA
Port Noarlunga (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Port Pirie (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Streaky Bay (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Wallaroo (Tyre module) Artificial Reef, SA
Whyalla (Tyre module) Artificial Reef 1, SA
Whyalla (Tyre module) Artificial Reef 2, SA
Whyalla (Tyre module) Artificial Reef 3, SA


Marine Parks and protected areas

SDFSA supports Marine Parks as important to the propagation and protection of marine life and the conservation and regeneration of habitat. SDFSA monitors State and Federal initiatives to protect the marine environment. Rules for South Australia’s current Marine Parks, including maps and permit information can be found at

The UN Convention on Biological Diversity has set as a target 10 percent protection of the world’s oceans by 2020. The IUCN World Parks Congress in 2014 recommended a target of at least 30% in order to protect biodiversity and fish stocks. At present only 6% of global oceans is set aside in marine protected areas. (Read more at:

Australia has a marine estate of 8.2 million km2 and 60,000km of coastline. In 2012, Australia designated 36% or 2.4 million km2 as marine parks, one of the world’s largest networks of marine parks. In 2017, the protections for those parks were significantly reduced, including allowing commercial fishing in a significant percentage of the parks.


According to Primary Industries and Regions department of the South Australian government, there are over 160 species of sharks in Australian waters (see

The SDFSA believes that sharks, as apex predators, are important to the health of marine ecosystems, and guidelines set by PIRSA should be observed.

Divers should be aware that White sharks in particular are a protected species in South Australia, including prohibitions on take, harm, harassment, sale, purchase or possession of sharks or parts of sharks. (See Section 71 of the South Australian Fisheries Management Act 2007).

Wrecks and Underwater Cultural Heritage

Update September 2018:Australia’s Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018(UCH Act) became an act of parliament on 24 August 2018. It is anticipated that the UCH Act will come into force on 1 July 2019.

Update August 2018: It was announced in the Advertiser on 5th July that the site of the 1837 wreck of the South Australian at Victor Harbor has been established and will now have a 30m exclusion zone around it for protection.

SDFSA is committed to the protection of South Australia’s underwater cultural heritage, and believes the Federation has an important role to play in informing the diving community of the rules surrounding designation, access and use of sites.

Highlights of the Underwater Cultural Heritage Act 2018 for divers

1. The Act expands coverage from shipwrecks to submerged aircraft and other types of underwater cultural heritage along with their fragile natural environments.
2. The Act also guides actions by Australian divers in waters outside Australian jurisdiction, helping protect sunken Australian vessels and aircraft overseas.
3. The Act will now provide protection for associated human remains.
4. The Act improves the government’s ability to declare an area containing underwater cultural heritage to be a protected zone by allowing the size of the zone to be tailored to suit each individual siteand the prohibited conduct in each zone to be specific to the site’s need for protection or for environmental conditions.
5. The Act provides for a simple online process to apply for permits to access protected zones.
6. It will also be easier to transfer artefacts – once applicants have received a permit under the new Act. The new transferable permits system will reduce the burden on individuals in possession, custody and control of protected underwater cultural heritage artefacts and enable better regulation of their movement.
7. All six States and the NT have agreed to align their legislation with the Act: this will give clarity to obligations wherever divers are located in Australia.
8. The Act has been aligned with the UNESCO 2001 Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage to facilitate Australia participating in global responses to illegal salvaging, looting and trafficking of marine artefacts.

Underwater Trails

The Trails Committee of Recreation SA encourages “the planning, design, management and use of recreational trails in a wide range of environments.” SDFSA sits on the committee to advocate for recognition, promotion and maintenance of underwater trails.At present, the Committee’s 2016 Guidelines for the Planning, Design, Construction and Maintenance of Recreational trails in South Australia[] recognise water trails users (such as kayakers and scuba divers) but make little reference to how those trails should be developed and maintained. SDFSA is working with the committee to advance good practice in underwater trails.

Underwater trails are as important as land-based trails to help guide explorers through the history and natural environment of South Australia. For example, “the Adelaide Underwater Heritage Trail includes four shipwrecks off the Gulf of St Vincent – the Grecian, Zanoni, Star of Greece and Norma. The wrecks represent a variety of vessels associated with trade and development in South Australia during the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries” [].

Other trails include the 60+ shipwrecks around Kangaroo Island, the Port Noarlunga Reef Diver Trail(with markers) and the EwensPonds Conservation Park. The Trails SA website is supported by Recreation SA with funding through the Office for Recreation and Sport and includes 14 sites designated as underwater trails at the present time.

SA Dive Tourism

Update November 2018: SDFSA member Carl Charter has had a front cover and story on diving in South Australia published in the November 2018 issue of Diver (UK)

SDFSA is committed to promoting South Australia as a world class diving destination.