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## Is Scuba Diving Legal in NYC Waters?


New York City is home to a vast and diverse underwater world, beckoning scuba divers to explore its hidden depths. However, before you embark on an underwater adventure within the city’s jurisdiction, it’s crucial to understand the regulations surrounding scuba diving in NYC waters.

Legality of Scuba Diving

Official Designation:

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), scuba diving is considered a “Recreational Activity” within New York City waters.

Permitted Activities:

Recreational scuba diving is generally permitted in all waters within the five boroughs of New York City, including the Hudson River, East River, and Harlem River. Divers are allowed to explore shipwrecks, dive on reefs, and observe marine life.


However, there are certain areas where scuba diving is prohibited or restricted due to safety concerns or environmental protection measures:

Designated Swimming Areas: Scuba diving is not permitted within designated swimming areas at public beaches and pools.
Marine Protected Areas: Diving is restricted or prohibited in certain marine protected areas, such as the Jamaica Bay Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area.
Areas with Heavy Boat Traffic: Diving is not advised in areas with heavy boat traffic, such as the shipping lanes near the Statue of Liberty.

Additional Regulations

In addition to the general legality of scuba diving, divers are required to adhere to specific regulations:

Diver Certification: Divers must be certified by a recognized scuba diving organization, such as PADI or SSI.
Buddy System: Diving alone is prohibited. Divers must dive with at least one other certified diver.
Safety Equipment: Divers must use appropriate safety equipment, including a buoyancy compensator device (BCD), regulator, and dive computer.
Reporting Requirements: Divers are required to report any dangerous conditions, marine life encounters, or lost or found property to the appropriate authorities.


Enforcement of scuba diving regulations is primarily the responsibility of the New York City Police Department’s Harbor Unit. Officers may conduct underwater patrols and issue citations or summonses to violators.

Consequences of Violations

Violating scuba diving regulations can result in penalties, including:

Confiscation of diving equipment
Suspension or revocation of diving certification

Recommended Practices

To ensure a safe and enjoyable scuba diving experience in NYC waters, divers are encouraged to follow these recommended practices:

Plan Your Dive: Familiarize yourself with the dive site, weather conditions, and tidal patterns.
Dive with a Buddy: Never dive alone. Choose a dive partner who is experienced and certified.
Use Proper Equipment: Wear appropriate diving equipment that is well-maintained and in good working order.
Respect Marine Life: Do not disturb or harm marine organisms.
Report Incidents: If you encounter any dangerous situations or lost property, report it to the authorities immediately.


Scuba diving in NYC waters is a thrilling and rewarding experience, but it’s essential to understand and adhere to the legal regulations. By following the rules and recommended practices, divers can explore the city’s underwater world safely and responsibly.

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