Reunion Island Government Proposes Shark Cull in Response to Shark Attack
In response to a teenage girl who died from a shark attack Monday, the government of the French overseas territory on the Island of Reunion announced an “operation” to recover some of the girl’s remains, and follow up with a massive cull of large sharks in the region.
In May a surfer was died from injuries related to a shark attack making this the second fatality on the island and the island this year, and five since 2011.
Three sharks were reportedly killed following the latest attack, but none of them were found to be involved in this incident.
The International Shark Attack File reports 78 shark attacks last year with 8 fatalities world wide.
While this may appear to be an increase in sharks or aggressive sharks in the region, there are other explanations. Simple statistics can demonstrate that some years will have more incidents while other years will have less all else being equal. An increase in human activity, particularly where sharks naturally occur can result in these unfortunate interactions. However, shark hunts in response to a shark attacks frequently result in innocent sharks and even separate species being taken, not the so called man eater.
Shark watch programs, posting of beaches when sharks are present and avoiding areas of high shark frequency are all solutions to avoid these interactions.
Following a fatal attack of a popular local surfer in August of last year, 300 surfers demonstrated outside of the local police department demanding that the shark population in the area be culled. Twenty sharks were culled in a marine protected area nearby following last year’s attack. In response to the attack surfers expressed outrage at the government banning surfing and many surfers are calling for a boycott on tourism of the island.
Some have associated an increase in shark activity with an increase in fish abundance in the marine protected area although no scientific evidence has been provided to support this assertion. Given that large sharks cover a large territory it is highly unlikely that sharks killed will
We call on the government of Reunion to abandon this plan and will encourage tourists to boycott visiting Reunion until this cull is repealed.
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