Canada Dive Flags

Rules for Canadian divers and boaters

The following was contributed by Dwayne Verhey. Thank you, Dwayne!

Boating is a federal responsibility in Canada so there is one standard for the whole country.

The Collision Regulations Rule 27, made under the Canada Shipping Act specifies that the dive boat must carry a rigid representation of the international code “A” flag not less than 1 metre (39.25″) in height if the boat has divers down and cannot maneuver. Measures shall be taken to ensure all-round visibility.

At night, the boat shall display three all-round lights in a vertical line, the highest and lowest of which shall be red and the middle light shall be white. The red and white diver down flag is not recognized for use on the boat (but not forbidden either).

A buoy is an option if it meets the specifications set out in the regulations. The Canadian Aids to Navigation (TP 968) recognizes the use of the red and white flag on a buoy, and the Private Buoy Regulations (SOR 99-335) provide the specifications for the buoy itself.

Read together a diver’s buoy must be:

White, with yellow retro-reflective striping, a minimum of 15.25cm (6″) across and 30.5cm (12″) above the water, bearing the letters “PRIV” on opposite sides in large black lettering and displaying the owner’s name and contact information prominently. It must be flying the red and white diver down flag, which must be square and 50cm (20″) on each side, with the white stripe extending diagonally from the tip of the hoist down to the bottom of the fly. The buoy must be securely moored.

There are no regulations stipulating how close a diver must be to the float or flag. There are no regulations stipulating how far a boat must be either. The latest (2009) copy of the Safe Boating Guide issued by Transport Canada merely recommends boat operators keep clear 100m (328′) from either flag.

Note that Fathom Five National Marine Park does require the use of the diver down flag within the park.

Happy Diving,
Chris Whitten
chris-(@) (remove the hyphens and parentheses) Webmaster

P.S. The information above was as complete and up-to-date at the time as I could make it. It should not be construed as providing legal advice. You should conduct your own legal research or contact an attorney.