The State Liberals are calling on the Weatherill Labor Government to reject industry calls for an expansion of the shark cage-diving tourism operations around South Australia.
Following an incident on February 2nd where a group of orcas drove the great white sharks from their usual grounds, shark cage-diving operators approached the State Government to significantly increase the number of areas in which they can operate. (Link to map below)
“Expanding the locations for shark cage-diving, in particular the use of berley and chumming to attract the sharks to the area, poses an increased risk to other marine users,” said Shadow Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation Michelle Lensink.
“There needs to be a balance between the commercial interests of shark cage-diving tourist operators and the potential risk posed to abalone divers, recreation divers and surfers by those businesses.
“Research conducted for the CSIRO reported that shark cage-diving operations changed the behaviour of tagged great white sharks at Neptune Islands, increasing their numbers, period of residency and altering their diet.
“There’s no doubt that many other marine users are totally opposed to any increase in the areas where shark cage-diving can take place.
“Extending the areas where shark cage-diving businesses can operate has the potential to increase conflict between those businesses and other marine users.
“It is also of concern that the proposed new areas include breeding, resting and feeding zones for Australian sea lions (St Francis Island Group) and a dolphin breeding site (Spilsby Island).
“It makes little sense to encourage top of the food chain predators into breeding areas of protected species.
“Environment Minister Ian Hunter should reject the request to increase the areas where shark cage-diving businesses operate.”