THE MASSACHUSETTS DIVER ACCESS LAW

  Several years ago the Bay State Council of Divers began a campaign called FREE THE BEACHES. The objective of the campaign was to gain improved access for scuba divers at coastal beaches in Massachusetts . As a result of the FREE THE BEACHES campaign, the Massachusetts legislature, in 1986, passed a law regarding coastal access. This law prohibits coastal cities and towns from denying access to divers across beaches and other lands that are owned by the government and which are available to the public for swimming or recreation. The law, identified as MGL Chapter 91, Section 10D, applies during daylight hours. The law provides coastal access for divers at many beaches and other sites where diving had been restricted or prohibited in the past. Areas of particular interest are the public beaches in Rockport and Gloucester , and Boston Harbor Islands . Prudent scuba divers will recognize that the diver access law does not allow them to trespass on private property. Also, the law does not change local parking restrictions nor does it affect the nighttime closure of certain beaches.

  The access law has reopened many dive sites for our enjoyment. How the coastal communities have reacted to the law has depended to a great extent on how divers have conducted ourselves. We expect coastal law enforcement people to be particularly sensitive to how divers behave.

  No one can control how each of us behaves while diving. In the interest of good relations with the coastal communities, and continued smooth implementation of the law, we urge everyone to be polite, considerate and law abiding. Please remember, the behavior of individual divers affects the public image of all divers.

  What should you do if you are denied access as guaranteed by the law? The Bay State Council of Divers recommends the following:

  Politely tell the denying officer that you are under the impression that State law allows divers access to the water across beaches and other lands that are open to the public.

  Ask the officer to explain the reason for denial.

  If the officer is firm about denying you access, agree to leave after politely asking for his/her name.

  If you are denied access, promptly report the incident to the Bay State Council of Divers, 55 Sea Street , Quincy , MA 02169 .

  To obtain a copy of the law write to the Bay State Council of Divers at the above address. Enclose $1.00 for postage and handling.