Thursday, February 23, 2012

Australian Commercial Shark Permits - Good News?

"We lost our shark permits!"
JUST two shark cage diving operators will be able to operate off the Neptune Islands for five days a week.

The four existing licence holders will learn in just over a month if they will lose their licence or if they can continue operating the world-famous tourist attraction.

The licence cuts will come after the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the changes were brought about after consultation with the industry and a recent study by the CSIRO that found shark behaviour was changing at Neptune Islands.

Shark dive operators will find out at the end of March if they are able to keep their licences, but the new policy means two local operators will lose their licence to conduct dives within the Neptune Islands Conservation Park.

Adventure Bay Charters owner Matt Waller said the cuts to local shark cage licence holders were an unfortunate decision for both the industry and the region.

"We will apply (for a licence) the same as anyone else," he said.

"We have a good case for our inclusion in the industry in the future and we should know the decision at the end of March, or that is their date at the moment."

The new policy claims it will ensure the sustainability of the popular tourist attraction by minimising impacts on reserve values, improving industry certainty and reducing red tape.

But, it will also change the time shark cage dive operators will be allowed to conduct dives at Neptune Islands.

No more than five designated days each week will be allocated to tourism activity under the new policy.

There will be further restrictions placed on the two operators who receive licences, with no more than one vessel per licence being able to conduct shark diving within the Neptune Islands Conservation Park at any point in time.

By Kimberlee Meier

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