Shark tour ban swims forward - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Shark tour ban swims forward

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Joe Pavsek Joe Pavsek
Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou
Greg Knudsen Greg Knudsen

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The Honolulu City Council sinks its teeth into a proposed ban on shark feeding tours, giving it preliminary approval.

The council says attracting sharks is dangerous to ocean users and should be outlawed.

The ban could also take a bite out of some thriving Oahu businesses. It's only the first reading but the proposed ban is already brewing up some bad blood between shark tour businesses and city leaders.

Three miles from shore, thrill seekers to shark enthusiasts use Oahu's North Shore Shark Adventures to get in the face of the fierce fish.

"It was really exciting, I've never really been that close before," said Honolulu resident DJ Hiu.

But now the company and it's 17 workers are the prey.

"It's funny that on one in Haleiwa is saying anything, it's just the people over there," said North Shore Shark Adventures Captain Joe Pavsek.

The shark tour is the target of community leaders in Hawaii Kai.

" I don't think what they're doing is appropriate it's dangerous," said Honolulu City Councilman Charles Djou.

"It's mixing ocean users with sharks in ways where it does create a risk," said Hawaii Kai Neighborhood Board member Greg Knudsen.

But in its nine years of operation, the company says there's never been a shark bite. Captain Joe Pavsek says even a University of Hawaii study says the tours are safe.

"Anyone who wants to dispute science has their head somewhere where it shouldn't be," said Pavsek.

"They didn't feel it changed the pattern of sharks, it didn't vouch for safety," said Djou.

Djou says purposely attracting sharks would have an adverse impact on other ocean users. Similar to bans on feeding sharks, the bill would also make shark tours illegal like in Maui County.

As the measure moves forward, it may be the company and not its clients that will be swimming with sharks. There are two shark tour companies on Oahu, but Pavsek says the ban would make many more suffer. Hundreds of travel and tour businesses bank off the activity.There is a chance the already existing companies will be grand-fathered in under the proposed law, but that has yet to be decided.