A few weeks ago I went diving with a friend who hadn't dived in two years. This made me think about the situation how we get our certifications. We go on holiday to some warm place like the Caribbean or the Red Sea and spend four days learning how to scuba dive. One theory book and six dives further along and you can call yourself a scuba diver for the rest of your life. Is this realistic and can we be confident that people only scuba dive to their own level of experience? Or do we need a change in the way we approach scuba diving and it's certifications?
Taking a look at my own experience I can definitely say that scuba diving for two weeks in the Red Sea absolutely didn't prepare me for scuba diving in the Netherlands. There are vast differences in the situations you may find yourself in. I even dare to say that scuba diving in the Netherlands is more dangerous. Then why is it that after two weeks of scuba diving in Dahab, with only 12 dives in my logbook and my OW (open water) and AOW (advanced open water) certificates, I can just rent some gear and go scuba diving. This is not just something happening here in the Netherlands, but you can do this almost worldwide. Luckily I wasn't that stupid.
Should a scuba certificate be valid for the rest of your life? You haven't dived in two years or perhaps not even in five years. I think in the first instance a refresher dive may be enough, but in the second instance? Then again is it possible to state that a scuba diver license expires after a certain amount of time? Can we say, after five years of not scuba diving you need to take a new exam to validate your certificate again? It's really difficult as a lot factors come in to play. How many dives have you made, what was your certification level and more. And what when I made one dive per year, I would follow the rules, but I wouldn't have any real experience.
Also the government is involved in different ways per country. For example in the Netherlands there are rules about where you can scuba dive, but you may easily scuba dive alone in each season. Is it desirable that the government takes a more protective stand in this? I'm not sure actually.
The above is only a small part of much larger discussion happening right know in the scuba diving industry. There are many pro's and con's in this discussion and it's all made really difficult because all situations differ from each other. Also depending a lot on your personal experience and conscience.
I found this article on Diver Magazine which goes much deeper in to this topic. How do you feel about this?