For Divers in New York
Article 3 "NAVIGABLE WATERS OF THE STATE" of NYS law states:
S 35-b. Markers for skin or scuba divers.
1. The commissioner is hereby authorized to make rules and regulations requiring the use of a red flag with a diagonal white bar to be displayed on the water or from a boat by skin divers or scuba divers which would indicate underwater diving and significantly mark their position in such waters. The commissioner shall specify the size, shape, material of construction and manner of placing such markers.
2. A violation of such rules and regulations so established pursuant to subdivision one herein, shall constitute an offense punishable by a fine not to exceed fifty dollars.
This begs the question: what rules and regulations has the "commissioner" made? Research on this was shared with us by David Harrington. An employee of NYS Parks updated us with the following, which is current through December 15, 2010.
OFFICIAL COMPILATION OF CODES, RULES AND REGULATIONS OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
TITLE 9. EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT
SUBTITLE I. OFFICE OF PARKS, RECREATION AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION
CHAPTER V. MARINE AND RECREATIONAL VEHICLES
SUBCHAPTER A. MOTORBOATS
PART 448. PLACING OF NAVIGATION AIDS AND FLOATING OBJECTS IN NAVIGABLE WATERS
OF NEW YORK STATE--DIVER REGULATIONS AND USE OF DIVER FLAGS
Section 448.9. Diver regulations and use of diver flags.
(a) A diver's flag shall be flown when any individual is diving alone or in the company of others.
(b) The diver's flag shall be red, square or rectangular in shape, of a minimum of at least 12 inches by 12 inches with a white diagonal stripe of not less than three inches wide and not more than three inches wide.
(c) The flag shall be so constructed or of such material as to maintain an altitude perpendicular to the mast in light wind conditions to provide optimum visibility.
(d) All divers are required to surface within 100 feet of the marker.
(e) All boats shall remain at least 100 feet from the flag in all directions.
(f) All diver's flags used shall be positioned on a boat or float so as to fly at about two feet above the surface of the water.
(g) All divers when diving alone shall be attached to the flag or float by an easily removed or easily broken line so that when they are swimming beneath the water, the float and flag will accompany them.
(h) A diver need not be attached to a flag or float when he is assisted by surface personnel in a vessel.
For Boaters in New York
The above has information for boaters. In addition, according to the Study Guide for Public Vessel Operators License:
Scuba and Skin Diving
All boat operators should be aware of the two flags which indicate the presence of divers in the water.
Always be on the look-out for the "diver down" flag, which is red with a white diagonal stripe, as shown to the near right. It will be attached to a float or a boat. This flag indicates that there is a diver in the vicinity, and that boats should keep at least 100 feet away. Be aware that while the diver should be within 100 feet of the flag, divers can drift with the current and they may be further away. Pass these flags as widely as possible, and be on the lookout for air bubbles indicating the diversí position.
You may also see the blue and white "alpha flag," which is required to be flown by the operator of a dive boat when conducting dive operations.
Boats flying this flag have restricted maneuverability. Other boats must keep at least 100 feet away from either flag unless the boat is actively servicing divers on the surface or below. It is the diverís responsibility to stay within the 100 foot buffer zone of the divers flag. Boaters must give a wide berth to boats displaying the alpha flag. If it is necessary that you must come within the safety area, approach the flag or
boat with caution and communicate with anyone you see.
chris-(@)-interesting.com (remove the hyphens and parentheses)
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.