Greece to ease diving restrictions

The Greek Government attempts to protect unsalvaged ancient sculptures, walls, and other artefacts by limiting scuba diving to a few approved areas. While this protection of heritage is commendable, it has been frustrating for divers. However, the Greek government is now planning to lift restrictions.

A merchant marine ministry draft bill lifting restrictions on recreational scuba-diving was passed in principle by both main parties on Wednesday, during discussion in a parliamentary committee.

MPs stressed that the new laws would help make Greece one of the most popular worldwide destinations for scuba-diving holidays and bring in significant revenue.

The Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and the Coalition of the Left, Movements and Ecology party expressed reservations about whether the new laws adequately protected submerged archaeological remains, however.

In past years, recreational diving was strictly restricted in Greece in order to deter antiquities smugglers, with diving only permitted in specific, closely-watched locations.

Merchant Marine Minister Manolis Kefaloyiannis stressed that all measures in the bill were fully harmonised with Community law and aimed to allow full exploitation of the favourable weather conditions prevailing in Greece for the greater part of the year, as well as its natural, historic and cultural attractions, to draw the recreational diving sector.

Source: Athens News Agency