French-colonial island bans surfing, initiates massive shark hunt

mascan42

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Reunion Island bans surfing, plans massive shark kill

Extreme, controversial measures enacted at popular tourist destination after second fatal attack in three months, and fifth since 2011; surfers are livid

July 30, 2013
by Pete Thomas

Reunion Island’s surfing lineups are empty now that the government has banned surfing in the wake of deadly shark attacks.

Reunion Island is known for its world-class waves, pristine swimming beaches and, in recent years, shark attacks that are tarnishing the image of this idyllic Indian Ocean paradise.

Now, in the aftermath of a fatal attack on a 15-year-old girl earlier this month (the second deadly attack in three months and fifth since 2011), the French-controlled island has embarked on an extreme plan in the hope of ending the bloodshed—or at least making locals and visitors feel safer.

Surfer magazine reported Monday that the government has banned swimming and surfing in all but the island’s shallow lagoon through October 1. Anyone violating the ban will be fined $50.

Perhaps bigger news, though, is that between now and October 1, the government plans to kill 90 sharks (45 bull sharks and 45 tiger sharks).

This plan was announced Friday and the news is so fresh that an outcry among environmental groups has yet to materialize.

They’ll argue, rightly, that removing apex predators will harm the marine environment, and that the threat of shark attacks will exist regardless of how many sharks the government might kill.

Said George Burgess, a renowned shark expert with the Florida Museum of Natural History: “This is an archaic, knee-jerk reaction that seems more borne of vengeance than of science… This likely will blow up in their faces because most visitors to Reunion have a more sophisticated conservation ethic than the authorities are apparently giving credit them for.”

Meanwhile, surfers are livid—but mostly because they’re being ordered to stay out of the water.

“I think it’s stupid. I’m shocked that they banned surfing in the area,” resident Damien Ferrere, 16, told Surfer. “If we want to surf, we risk [the fine] and possible prison time. If I want to surf, I will.”

Reunion Island, which is located east of Madagascar, remains a popular tourist destination despite 11 shark attacks, five of them fatal, since 2011.

Nobody is sure why so many attacks occurred in such a short span, but some speculate that the sprawling new marine reserve is growing fish populations, which in turn are attracting more sharks.

Last year, after a fatal attack on a popular bodyboarder, about 300 surfers demonstrated outside the local police station, demanding a shark cull. The government ended up removing 20 sharks from the reserve.
The two most recent fatal attacks involved the teen earlier this month, in very shallow water, and a honeymooner, while his wife was watching from the beach, in May.

The three-pronged plan was announced Friday during a press conference, at which the prefect Jean-Luc Marx outlined the elements:

—The ban on swimming and surfing in all but the shallow lagoon and supervised areas as determined by the Prefecture.
—The shark kill “as part of the scientific Ciguatera-Program to assess the marketing objectives of sharks in Reunion Island.”
—And a new website dedicated to inform the public about shark risks on Reunion Island, to be launched in October.

The Ciguatera-Program is a shark-fishing program that was launched last August in what was said to represent an evaluation of the island’s food safety policy. The sale of most shark meat is banned in local markets because it might contain a toxin known to cause a food poisoning called Ciguatera.

But the program could also be perceived as an attempt to mask an ongoing shark cull by using the science label to justify the removal of sharks.

Shark-culling efforts are controversial because sharks help maintain balance in the ecosystem, and because while killing lots of sharks might reduce the likelihood of attacks in the short-term, it does not eliminate the threat.

When October 1 rolls around and Reunion Island’s shores are cleared for surfing and swimming, for example, there’s no guarantee that a fatal shark attack will not occur the same day.

But the perception will be that the waters are safer, and perhaps that’s what Reunion Island is striving for.

Surfers, meanwhile, are going to be seriously tempted to paddle out after the arrival of each new swell.

It’d be interesting to learn how much the government collects in fines.
 

LiddyRules

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Jaws meets Apocalypse Now meets Apocalypse Now: Redux?
 

VicVinegar

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Oct 5, 2012
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What they aren't telling you is that it is really in response to the threat of a Sharknado.
 

Ego

The Only Thing Bigger Than My Head
Feb 15, 2005
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#6
Stay out of the water. Society shouldn't have to carry the burden of your crippled ass if you get chomped on by a shark and somehow manage to survive.
 

LiddyRules

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#7
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#8
It's the ocean, you dumbfucks.


"The beach was the last human outpost on Reunion Island. Passed that, there were only sharks."
Reunion Island... shit, I'm still only in Reunion Island... Every time, I think I'm gonna wake up back in the ocean.
 

Lord Zero

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Aug 25, 2008
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#9
Reunion Island... shit, I'm still only in Reunion Island... Every time, I think I'm gonna wake up back in the ocean.
"Every minute I stay on this beach, I get weaker, and every minute Bruce swims in the water, he gets stronger."
 

LiddyRules

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#10
"You're an errand boy, sent by fishmongers, to collect a bill."
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#11
"Every minute I stay on this beach, I get weaker, and every minute Bruce swims in the water, he gets stronger."
"Oh man... the bullshit piled up so fast on Reunion Island, you needed fins to swim below it."






Meh, mostly works.
 

Lord Zero

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Aug 25, 2008
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#13
"Oh man... the bullshit piled up so fast on Reunion Island, you needed fins to swim below it."






Meh, mostly works.
"Are you a shark hunter?"
"I'm a fisherman."
"You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by Sea World, to collect a bill."'
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#14
"Are you a shark hunter?"
"I'm a fisherman."
"You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by Sea World, to collect a bill."'
"We train young men to kill sharks, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their harpoons because it's obscene!"
 

tattered

Uber-Aryan
Wackbag Staff
Aug 22, 2002
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#15
Surfer? Dont know what a shark would do with it. Eat it I suppose. Seen one eat a rocking chair one time
 

tattered

Uber-Aryan
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Aug 22, 2002
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#16
You go on the board. Board goes in the water. Sharks in the water. Our shark
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#17
There's ocean over there, there's ocean over there, and watch out those goddamn sharks bite, I'll tell ya.
 

Lord Zero

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Aug 25, 2008
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#18
"We train young men to kill sharks, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their harpoons because it's obscene!"
"I watched a shark swim along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Swimming, treading, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving."
 

Lord Zero

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#19
"Could we, uh... talk to Quint?"
"Hey, man, you don't talk to the Captain. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet fisherman in the classic sense."
 

LiddyRules

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"You have Ho Chi Minh City hands, Sgt. Hooper. You been countin' gook ears all your life"
 

Lord Zero

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#21
"You have Ho Chi Minh City hands, Sgt. Hooper. You been countin' gook ears all your life"
"... suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, 'Do you know that 'chum' is the middle word in life?'"
 

LiddyRules

I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
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#22
It's all psychological. You yell basa, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Tet Holiday!
 

BIV

I'm Biv Dick Black, the Over Poster.
Apr 22, 2002
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#23
He was close, real close. I couldn't see him yet, but I could feel him, as if the boat were being sucked upriver and the water was flowing back into the ocean. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail fin.
 

Lord Zero

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Aug 25, 2008
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#24
It's all psychological. You yell basa, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Tet Holiday!
He was close, real close. I couldn't see him yet, but I could feel him, as if the boat were being sucked upriver and the water was flowing back into the ocean. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn't see the first shark for about a half an hour. Tiger. 13-footer. You know how you know that when you're in the water, Chief? You tell by looking from the dorsal to the tail fin.
"We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Great white after great white... hammerhead after hammerhead... species after species... genus after genus..."
 

LiddyRules

I'm Gonna Be The Bestest Pilot In The Whole Galaxy
Jun 1, 2005
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#25
"We must kill them. We must incinerate them. Great white after great white... hammerhead after hammerhead... species after species... genus after genus..."
The haddock, the haddock