Sharks, meat pies and government accountability traditional peruvian potato recipes

OPINION: A catchy headline on stuff in march informed us that "the most kiwi great white shark in the sea eats a mince pie off the ocean’s surface".

I’m sure many people had a chuckle at the thought of a great white shark eating this unlikely snack, but this is just the latest in a string of stories that reflect very poorly on new zealanders’ attitudes to this apex predator.

These majestic animals are fully protected under new zealand law – they should be allowed to roam the oceans in peace. Instead, two commercial shark cage diving operations working out of bluff have been harassing sharks for the past eight years.

These businesses are supposed to comply with a code of practice which includes common-sense requirements such as "sharks must not be fed" and "don’t throw any type of waste or pollutant into the ocean".Great white

the operators have an obligation to inform their clients that it’s not OK to throw a meat pie – or any other food or rubbish – overboard.

Restrictions on the use of baits and other attractants are important – they are aimed at stopping sharks from learning to associate boats or divers with the presence of an easy meal.

We know that the shark cage dive operators repeatedly breach the code of practice because their clients regularly post videos on facebook and other social media sites. These videos show the operators breaching their own code of practice by allowing sharks to take baits and using baits in a way that causes sharks to collide with or bite the cage.

Sharks, in their natural state, do not lurk around boats and humans trying to catch a piece of tuna tied to a rope and dangled in front of it.Cage diving

The stewart island community has voiced strong objections to shark cage diving operations as they have experienced increasingly aggressive behaviour by what used to be relatively shy animals.

They now fear for their safety on the water – kids don’t jump off the wharf to swim so much, and fishing for cod from a small dinghy is not so appealing when there are great white sharks around that have learnt to associate boats with free food.

The answer is little that has had any effect on the shark cage operators’ behaviour. DOC has issued permits but failed to impose or enforce meaningful conditions on the operators.

The act should be reviewed to make it fit for purpose again. For example, DOC has argued that it must ignore any impacts on public safety when issuing permits, not required under the act, it reckons.Cage diving

We disagree strongly. In a last-ditch effort to get some accountability from government regulators, pāua divers initiated legal proceedings. After an inconclusive decision from the high court, the proceedings were this week heard by the court of appeal, and the decision reserved.

The main thing we want to achieve is for DOC to be required to take into account the safety of the public and other marine users before issuing shark cage permits. Meaningful and properly enforced permit conditions are vital.

Thankfully, no stewart islanders or pāua divers have been hurt by a great white shark, although there are plenty of reports of antagonistic or unusual shark behaviour since the cage diving began.

However, until the government regulators accept responsibility for their actions, danger and fear remain a daily part of the experience of the community and pāua divers at stewart island.Shark cage

Whatever the outcome of the court case, we hope that the new minister of conservation will act decisively and demonstrate respect for the fully protected status of great white sharks and accountability for the safety of the local community.

Storm stanley is chairman of pauamac 5 (paua management action committees), which represents the interests of pāua fisheries in fiordland, stewart island and southland/otago.