Gibraltarian freediver Dean Chipolina, who this week returned from Ibiza having won a bronze medal competing in an exclusive invitation-only competition, has set his sights on making the sport “safer in Gibraltar”.
The local diver recently set up the Gibraltar Apnea and Spear Fishing Association, prompted in large part by tragedy in his own family with the loss of his cousin Kyle Bagu.
The association will aim to provide courses and to “get people more educated”, Mr Chipolina said.
“We have had too many deaths lately and I think this will help,” he said, adding: “We would like to work closely with Government to put some regulations in place where, if people want to go spear fishing, they need to come through us first and do a course. Something minimal, but at least a little bit of safety.”
Although a spear fishing association had existed here in the past, Mr Chipolina flagged how popular the sport is in Gibraltar and explained that he hoped to regulate it in this way.
He said that by adding apnea – or the cessation of breathing – as part of the association’s, he was putting focus on this critical element of spear fishing.
With freediving and competitive apnea now becoming a spectator sport which is receiving greater television exposure, the local freediver hopes that the introduction of a regulated association will ensure there is greater protection for enthusiasts locally.
While also providing opportunities outside Gibraltar, he also hopes the association will offer a platform for other organisations to benefit from their presence in Gibraltar.
Through training, education programmes and coaching along with the closer links the association would provide to professionals in the sport, he hopes that the newly establish Gibraltar Apnea and Spear Fishing Association will also provide law enforcement, fire services and other rescue services support in the future, bringing them into contact with professional divers from across the globe.