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'No longer safe to enter the sea' - Stewart Islanders outraged at caged shark dives

Stewart Island locals have launched a scathing attack on the Department of Conservation for allowing caged shark diving in their waters.

A petition with 768 signatures calling for an immediate ban was presented to Parliament today by local resident Ken McAnergney.

He says he's outraged that DOC is continuing to grant consents for caged shark diving, given the change in behaviour of the great white sharks since it started.

Mr McAnergney says the great white sharks are now associating boats with an "easy, healthy, tasty meal" and are becoming more aggressive.

He says people can "no longer safely enter the sea".

However, the Department of Conservation's manager for marine species and threats, Ian Angus says overseas research shows that caged shark diving does not increase the risk of attacks.

He says they've put in place an active monitoring regime and the operators are following best international practice.

DOC's chief science advisor Professor Ken Hughey says while the caged shark operators use bait to attract the great whites, they are not allowed to feed them.

He says they are not dismissing any suggestions that the sharks' behaviour has changed and any new information is given due consideration.