Regulation of shark tourism is being welcomed by Dunedin
cage-diving operator Peter Scott.
The Shark Dive New Zealand director said he had lobbied the
Government for five years to have rules established in the
Speaking from Stewart Island yesterday, Mr Scott said he was
pleased Conservation Minister Nick Smith had finally acted on
Dr Smith announced yesterday that permits would be required
for all great white shark-viewing tourism businesses, in line
with legislation around whale, dolphin and seal watching.
''There is a place for tourism operators that enable people
to see these magnificent great white sharks in the wild, but
a permit system is needed to ensure it is done responsibly,''
His announcement came after a meeting on Stewart Island with
dive operators, including Mr Scott, and other interested
parties on Thursday night.
Mr Scott said the existing code of practice for cage-diving
operators was useless because compliance varied.
''A permit system keeps everybody playing by the rules, and
if they don't I'm sure their permit will be removed. It just
gives us more structure within the industry,'' he said.
About 100 great whites visited Foveaux Strait each year
between December and June.
Dr Smith said tourism operators had to be aware of, and
comply with, best practice around the sharks.
In the past few years there has been increased concern about
operators changing the sharks' natural behaviour.
Divers worried sharks were associating boats with food as a
result of burley being used to attract sharks to cages.
''There is also concern from wildlife experts that the sharks
are being encouraged with the use of bait to attack the cage,
causing permanent injury to the sharks,'' Dr Smith said.
The Department of Conservation will inform operators of their
need to have a permit under the Wildlife Act, and consult
Stewart Islanders about permit conditions to ensure operators
do not harm or change the behaviour of sharks.
Dr Smith said there was tension among Stewart Islanders about
shark tourism and the solution was to tighten rules for
Mr Scott said his was one of only two commercial cage-diving
businesses at Stewart Island and he did not know of any rogue
He has repeatedly rejected claims his operation changed
''I don't know how many permits Nick's looking at dishing
out, but it will be good to have a permit system so
everyone's on the same playing field and we can get on with
''I welcome it with open arms,'' he said.