The Court of Appeal has ruled shark cage diving is an offence under the Wildlife Act, a decision that has pleased paua divers in particular.
The Paua Industry Council says shark cage diving should never have been allowed to happen at all.
“It makes absolute sense, you know, people’s safety and changing shark behaviour has been well documented now so let’s hope that’s the end of it,” said Jeremy Cooper, the Council’s chief executive.
The decision ends a legal battle between a group of paua divers from Stewart Island, the Department of Conservation (DOC) and shark diving companies, Shark Experience Ltd and Shark Dive New Zealand Ltd. The Court of Appeal decision also found the director-general of conservation had no power to authorise shark cage diving.
Shark diving began near Stewart Island in 2007 where great white sharks are common due to the large number of fur seals. In 2014 paua divers there called for a moratorium on it due to safety issues but DOC was reported to say public safety was outside its obligations under the Wildlife Act.
In 2016 the southern paua divers said in the High Court that regular cage diving was potentially having a behavioural effect on sharks in the area which was resulting in a risk to human life.