A Members Bill to provide best practice regulations for shark cage diving activities has been drawn from the ballot and will be debated in Parliament, National’s Conservation spokesperson and local Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie says.
“The Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) 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.
“This Bill comes after a Court of Appeal judgment that would close down shark cage divers. Shark cage tourism operators have no intention of giving up their fight, hence this Bill is timely.
"The Court also stated that it is now for Parliament to consider whether these activities should be permitted.
“Something needs to be done to ensure that consideration of public safety surrounding shark cage diving activities is paramount.
“The 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 Bill is supported by both tourism operators and fishers.
“I have had ongoing involvement with the matter since it was initially brought to my attention in 2014. I look forward to seeking cross-party support.”