Parliament votes down shark cage diving permit bill

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A great white shark cruises past a shark cage diver off Edwards Island near Stewart Island.

SHARK cage operators appear indifferent to the Government’s decision to reject a Bill which proposed tighter regulations within the industry.

Last week, Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie’s Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill, which sought to “provide best practice” regulations for shark cage diving activities, was voted down by Parliament.

“The Bill allowed for permit conditions – if granted – relating to the geographical area of operations, frequency of the activity and how the activity should be conducted, alleviating the safety concerns of those using the water for work or recreation,” she said.

In 2019, the issue went before The Supreme Court, however, it declined to make a decision based on the lack of facts presented.

Ms Dowie said Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage had “dismissed” the issue on Wednesday last week and put it in the “too hard” basket.

Shark Dive NZ director Andrea Scott, who formerly ran a cage diving experience on Stewart Island, said it was “fitting” the Bill was not passed because those who would be most affected by the changes were not consulted.

“Despite [Sarah Dowie] saying that [the Bill] was put together with input from the shark diving operators, there was no input whatsoever…

“What the Bill was trying to achieve would never have been possible without stakeholder input.”

Although her company no longer offered shark diving experiences commercially, it did carry out filming and contract work.

Shark Experience Ltd director Mike Haines, the only shark diving operator left on Stewart Island, said the rejection of the Bill would have no effect on his business.

“To be honest, there was very little information on what the Bill was about … so… we didn’t lose anything and we didn’t achieve anything.”

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