Shark tour opponents say more have signed petition
Supporters of a ban on shark viewing tours said they have gathered several hundred signatures as part of move to try to stop the tours.
Mahina Chillingworth, vice president of the surf group Hui O He'e Nalu, which sponsored a rally Saturday at Hale'iwa Harbor, said the signatures come in addition to the 1,000 signatures the group previously collected.
The group opposes the tours, pointing to safety concerns and noting that the North Shore of O'ahu is considered the surf capital of the world.
"When you feed the sharks, you are altering their natural habitat," said Collingsworth.
But Joe Pavesk, owner of North Shore Shark Adventures, denied the practice is a threat to public safety.
His tour company has been in business for nine years "with a clean safety record," he said.
Shark tour companies are allowed to feed sharks in federal waters three miles offshore as long it is done in conjunction with scientific research, he stated in a press release.
Feeding of sharks has long been a contentious issue, with those opposed to the practice criticizing North Shore Sen. Robert Bunda and Rep. Michael Magaoay for trying to exempt North Shore operators from bills in the Legislature that would have banned shark tours.