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Paua Industry Calls for Delay in Shark Cage Dive Operations

5 December 2014

Paua Industry Calls for Delay in Shark Cage Dive Operations

The paua industry is calling for a moratorium on great white shark cage dive operations in order to avoid risks to paua divers and local communities.

The Department of Conservation is currently considering applications for permits for great white shark cage dive operations in the waters around Stewart Island.

Storm Stanley, Chairman of the industry representative group PauaMAC5, said that a one year moratorium would allow time for the Department to properly assess the impacts of shark cage diving on the fully protected great white shark population.

Mr Stanley said “shark behaviour may be modified by the berleying, baiting and feeding activities that are used to attract and reward great white sharks. No studies or research have been conducted in New Zealand and there is no evidence to show that it is safe for the sharks. Great white sharks are not to be trifled with and the Department is obliged to adopt a precautionary approach.”

Mr Stanley noted that shark cage diving is a risk not only to sharks, but also for other marine users. Earlier this week PauaMAC5 alerted the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee to the risks shark cage diving poses for commercial paua divers and the Stewart Island community.

“A moratorium on great white shark cage diving permits will allow time for the new Health and Safety legislation to be passed so that regulators can properly manage any risks to communities and other local businesses. We want to ensure that great white shark cage dive operators are clear about their responsibilities to the public and are legally accountable for managing the effects of their activities.”

“Great whites are apex predators and are common in Stewart Island waters,” Mr Stanley said.

“They are drawn to fur seal colonies, also a protected species whose numbers are growing, and 120 great whites have been identified by shark researchers in the area.

“They have always been there but our big concern now is that their behaviour is being modified and they are becoming more aggressive due to the shark cage operators enticing them to their boats.

“We know little about these creatures and we need a lot more research and information to keep our divers safe and the wide community who fish and dive in these southern waters.”

ENDS

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