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Shark cage diving not a risk to other water users

Shark cage diving not a risk to other water users

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Shark cage diving does not increase risks to other water users New Zealand's Department of Conservation states.

(Filephoto). White shark eyeballing divers in a cage off Guadalupe

Residents of Stewart Island, New Zealand have pleaded for politicians to halt shark cage diving in their waters. The residents and paua divers have expressed fears that the cage diving is attracting great white sharks to the area and putting them at risk, saying they live in fear of a fatal shark attack.

There are currently two operators offers shark cage diving off the island. New Zealand's Department of Conservation (DOC) introduced permits for cage diving last year to manage risks from the activity, which was unregulated before 2014. DOC has completed a review of the cage diving season from December 2014 to June 2015.

No evidence of risk

DOC operations director for the southern South Island Allan Munn states to the NZ press that an international review of shark cage diving indicates there is no evidence shark cage diving increases the risk to water users. The author was world shark cage diving expert Barry Bruce from Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO).

DOC has renewed the permits issued to the two operators for the 2015-16 season, but with a number of changes. Changes made to these permits include tighter controls on bait and berley (ground fish) use, and limiting operators to using one boat a day.

The permits continued to limit operations to one site near Motunui/Edwards Island, 8km from Stewart Island, and also have rules for operations that prevent sharks from being fed and rewarded around people.

DOC would review the permits in August next year and would consult with stakeholders, iwi and the public through the 2015-16 season and the August 2016 review, Munn added

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Press releases from Divers Alert Network (DAN)