Singapore has banned diving at a popular marine sanctuary amid an uptick in the reported deaths of snorkelers and scuba divers.
The Maritime and Port Authority announced Monday the ban will last until further notice, adding the Parcel 39-L Sanctuary in the world’s largest coral reef to the list of structures “curtailed” in 2018.
Singapore allows diving at the Pulau Raja, but stopped the sport in earlier swaths of the island after 27 divers were recorded as having died at the Parcel 39-L in 2018.
The Gulf of Thailand Protected Marine Area is the world’s largest tropical reef network and is monitored by the World Diving Center (WDC), Singapore’s national diving authority.
Singapore culled 22 boats over the past year as a safety measure after the number of diving deaths surged in the first half of 2018, according to local media reports.
The island nation, along with Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines, has been an important transit point for over 1,500 shipwrecks since 1948, according to WDC.
The majority of the shipwrecks, which include hundreds of artifacts and anchors, reside in Peninsular Malaysia.
Singapore’s ministry of water resources and environment will decide when to open the Parcel 39-L to dive when it resolves a dispute between shipping lines and the WDC over who will pay the operating costs of a future port clearance center in the strait.
Daniel Hetterman is a writer for the Investigative News Network. He can be reached at [email protected]