Shark Cage Diving

I seek leave to make a brief explanation before directing a question to the Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation on the subject of shark cage diving.

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK: As honourable members would be aware, I have asked questions on this issue before, given that South Australia is one of the few locations in the world where shark cage diving occurs and is indeed legal. The three commercial operators operating on the West Coast require permits from the minister, and it was announced that these operators would be granted 10-year extensions to their permits in December last year, due to be reissued for 1 July.

In May this year, I asked the minister whether he intended to publicly release the conditions of the licence once approved. He replied in the last sitting week to say that—he did not really answer the question, actually—there would be policy which would be publicly available. My questions for the minister are:

1.Now that he has reissued licences, can he indicate when the policy will be publicly released?

2.In addition, will he publish the licences?

3.Does the policy refer to berley and baiting and, if so, what are those references?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER  (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change)  ( 14:21 :00 ): I thank the honourable member for her most important question. In 2014, great white shark tourism attracted over 9,000 people to Eyre Peninsula, I am advised. Its popularity has grown by over 10 per cent per year for the last three years, and it now contributes over $11 million to the state economy and supports approximately 70 jobs.

Great white shark tourism takes place at the Neptune Islands (Ron and Valerie Taylor) Marine Park, which is one of Australia's main aggregation areas for great white sharks. Great white shark tourism in the Neptune Islands Marine Park is one great example of how marine parks can provide opportunities for ecotourism and help support regional economies.

This government has and will continue to work with tour operators. That is why we are extending licence terms for each of these operators from the current term of five years to a term of 10 years. This will provide operators with the certainty they need to attract finance and grow their businesses. It is expected that this initiative will have many flow-on benefits to small businesses involved in tourism, transport, hospitality and retail by attracting more people to the Eyre Peninsula region.

To ensure that great white shark tourism continues to be environmentally sustainable, its effects are monitored by the South Australian Research and Development Institute. This monitoring program indicates that the effects of tourism on sharks have not increased over the last 12 months. A report of findings is available on the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources website, if you are interested.

In support of the new 10-year licences, the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources is currently developing a revised great white shark tourism policy in conjunction with operators. The revised policy will be made available to the public once complete. I understand we are still consulting with the proponents and, as I say, once that has been concluded, the policy will be released.

The PRESIDENT: Supplementary, Ms Lensink?

The Hon. J.M.A. LENSINK  ( 14:22 :43 ): Supplementary question, Mr President: will the minister also publish the licences, and can he advise the chamber on what his view or the department's view is on the activity known as berleying or baiting?
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER  (Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation, Minister for Water and the River Murray, Minister for Climate Change)  ( 14:23 :01 ): Off the top of my head I am not sure whether licences are released publicly. I will need to go back and check on that and get some advice from the department. I am also not sure whether I am, in fact the licensee, or whether the Minister for—

The Hon. J.M.A. Lensink interjecting: 
The Hon. I.K. HUNTER: I think it could be me. Anyway, I will find out that information and get back to the chamber about that. In terms of berleying, I understand the current regulatory approach is to have two licences using berley. The third licence applied specifically not to use berley, but to use acoustic attraction. So, as I understand it, that is the current make-up of the three licences: two have applied to PIRSA on a regular basis for exemption for the use of berley, and one does not because they use sound as an attractant. I think, as we have heard in this chamber previously, sometimes some famous tracks from AC/DC are utilised. I can't name what they would be.


14 April 2016

ln reply to the Hon J M A Lensink MLC on 23 September 2015:

I. Will the Minister publish the licences?

Hon lan Hunter MLC: "The Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation has received this advice:

I. The licences between the Government and individual providers will not be published. The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources is developing a new policy to guide the licensing of this activity. The policy will contain all aspects of the licences that are in the public interest. The policy is currently being finalised and will be released to the public shortly."