Australian pearl diver's death shocks industry

The dead man was diving from a boat near the Broome coast when he became distressed. [Pearl Producers Association]
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The dead man was diving from a boat near the Broome coast when he became distressed. [Pearl Producers Association]

Last Updated: Mon, 16 Apr 2012 11:16:00 +1000

The West Australian Pearl Producers Association says the death of a 22-year-old pearl diver is the first of its kind in the state for more than 20 years.

The man, part of a team of six divers, died in waters south of the Australian city of Broome at the weekend.

Police say he surfaced on Saturday afternoon in a distressed state and died not long after.

Association chief executive Brett McCallum says it is not yet known what caused the death.

"A fatality such as this has shocked the industry and we'll be doing everything we can to find out anything and see if there's anything we can implement and improve," he said.

"[If there is] we will certainly do so."

Mr McCallum says the industry has worked hard to improve safety standards.

"Subsequently the pearling industry has implemented a significant safety and training program for our diving, and it's been a very successful program," he said.

The Association says all divers undergo rigorous health and swimming checks before being allowed in the water.

Water Police and Worksafe have travelled to the scene to prepare a report for the coroner.

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