A Members Bill to provide best practice regulations for shark cage diving activities has been rejected by the Government, MP for Invercargill Sarah Dowie says.
“My Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill was drawn from the Members’ Bill ballot in 2018 and sought to mitigate the risks of shark cage diving to other people in the water, while also protecting sharks.
“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.
“The Supreme Court’s October 2019 decision hasn’t put this issue to bed. While the sole shark cage diving operator resumed operations in Stewart Island, the Supreme Court declined to make a determination based on the limited facts before it.
“A Select Committee process would’ve allowed the Bill to be worked into shape and given all affected parties, including local operators, the chance to be heard. With the door remaining open for future cases, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage has dismissed the issue and put it in the ‘too hard’ basket.
“NZ First hosted a public meeting on Stewart Island back in 2015 accusing then Conservation Minister Maggie Barry of ‘trivialising’ the issue. But with a Bill in front of them that address the risks posed by the activity, NZ First have meekly followed Ms Sage’s lead.
“Stewart Island residents and operators have every right to be annoyed.
“I have had ongoing involvement with this issue since 2014, it’s unfortunate the Government has voted down a Bill that has the backing of both tourism operators and fishers.”