A day after shark cage diving was declared illegal in court ruling a private members bill to regulate the activity has been pulled from the ballot in Parliament.
Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie’s Cage Diving (Permitting and Safety) Bill was drawn in the house on Thursday.
If passed, the bill will introduce a permitting regime for commercial shark cage diving operators, to ensure any adverse effects of commercial shark cage diving will be reduced.
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Dowie said the bill was timely as the shark cage diving operators had no intention of giving up their fight.
Her bill addressed the risks that were posed by shark cage diving being carried out in close proximity to Stewart Island, she said.
“It would also provide the means to ensure that the people operating the cages work in a way that poses no threat to sharks, while also mitigating the clear threat to the safety of the public using the sea for work or recreation.”
Both tourism operators and fishers supported the bill, Dowie said.
If the bill passed the first reading it will go to the environment select committee which is chaired by Labour MP Deborah Russell, Dowie said.
Dowie also sits on the Environment Committee.
In May, Dowie attempted to put forward her private member’s bill but it was blocked by Labour, NZ First and the Green Party.
At the time, conservation minister Eugenie Sage said the bill was premature given the Court of Appeal was still considering how DOC could be more active on public health and safety for cage diving.
An almost three-year legal battle between paua industry lobby group Paua MAC5, the Department of Conservation and cage diving operators came to an end on Tuesday when the Court of Appeal found that shark cage diving is an offence under the Wildlife Act.
In their conclusion, Court of Appeal Judges Cooper, Clifford and Williams JJ found the Wildlife Act has never been fit for purpose in respect of shark cage diving.
“It will be for parliament to consider whether these activities should be permitted by amending legislation that provides for authorisation with the clarity of modern drafting norms.”