Shark Cage Diving No Longer an Offence

Oct 24, 2019
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A Bluff business will once again be able to offer tourists a unique experience thanks to The Supreme Court setting aside a ruling from the Court of Appeal.

Shark Experience had been taking people onto Foveaux Strait and attracting great white sharks to the boat using chum and bait. Mike Haines, who runs the business, would then lower divers in a metal cage for a unique up-close-and-personal experience with the sharks.

However, the Court of Appeal initially deemed it an offence under the Wildlife Act, believing it was in the same league as the illegal actions of hunting or killing great white sharks.

Mike Haines said while he would lure the sharks to his boat, he would never hunt or kill them. After the initial ruling that deemed it an offence, Mike’s business suffered, and he closed his doors in March. However, the new season which runs between December and June, he says, should be better.

Even though the Supreme Court ruled that diving wasn’t an offence, it stopped short of altering the Court of Appeal ruling surrounding cage diving appearing under the definition of “hunt or kill”. According to the ruling, luring sharks to a cage aligns with hunting as it includes pursuing or disturbing wildlife.

National’s Conservation spokesperson and Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie said her Members Bill proposing practical regulations on shark cage diving now had greater relevance. This Bill would be up soon for its first reading.

“The Shark Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill was drawn from the ballot in September 2018 and would ensure both people and sharks’ safety should it become law.

“The Bill provides 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 among other conditions.

“It also regulates the activities of commercial shark cage diving in a way that would alleviate the safety concerns of those using the water for work or recreation.”

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