Sarah Dowie MP for Invercargill has introduced a Members’ Bill to the ballot to address a previously unregulated activity in New Zealand, shark cage diving.
“My Members Bill, the Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill has been lodged in the Members Ballot and would provide best practice regulations for shark cage diving activities,” Ms Dowie says.
“The Bill acknowledges and addresses the risk that is posed by shark cage diving that is carried out in close proximity to beaches. This risk is increased due to the nature of competing activities in coastal waters in the Stewart Island area, where shark cage diving is currently carried out.
“Water-users, residents and families on Stewart Island have felt endangered by shark cage diving operations that are carried out close to the shore. Something needs to be done to ensure that consideration of public safety surrounding shark cage diving activities is paramount.
“The Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill would provide conditions for granting permits relating to the geographical area within which the commercial shark cage diving operation may operate, as well as minimum distances of operation from specified locations such as beaches.
“It would also provide the means to ensure that the people operating the cages work in a way that poses no threat to sharks, while also mitigating the clear threat to the safety of the public using the sea for work or recreation.
“The introduction of the Bill to the ballot is supported by a number of organisations in the industry including PauaMac5 and the Kina Industry Council who welcome the clarity that the Bill would provide on this serious ongoing issue.
“I have had ongoing involvement with the matter since it was initially brought to my attention in 2014 and I am excited to lodge this Members’ Bill in the Members’ Bill Ballot. If it is drawn from the ballot I look forward to seeking cross-party support.”