Experts start work on finding solutions to shark attacks


24-August-2011

This follows two such incidents off Anse Lazio beach on Praslin recently in which two tourists – a Frenchman and an Englishman -- lost their lives.

The two South African experts -- Geremy Cliff and Michael Anderson-Reade, from the Kwa-Zulu Natal Shark Institute -- arrived in Seychelles on Monday morning and later the same day met senior government representatives from the Department of Environment, Seychelles Maritime Safety Authority, Praslin Development Fund and the Police to discuss their work programme over the next 6 days. 

According to their Terms of Reference, they will assist the Government of Seychelles in determining and proposing a comprehensive list of prevention and safety measures that the authorities need to apply, the geographical extent and the length of time these will be required to lower the possibility of a shark attack. These should include advisories to swimmers and divers, surveillance systems and rescue respond measures and first aid accessibility.

They will also try to identify the shark species and size from the information available and determine what may have triggered or cause the attacks.

The methods that can be used to abate or remove the particular shark threat will also be considered.

The experts will also identify and list other biological and anthropogenic contributing factors that may need to be considered such as disposal of food from yachts and other pleasure boats in the in-shore that may affect shark feed behaviour and find out how can these be best addressed.

The experts have also done some preliminary assessment of the injuries of the two victims from photos provided by the police and the piece of tooth that has been retrieved from the second victim by doctors. 

From the preliminary assessment of the injuries they are inclined to think that the species of shark involved is a Great White although they are not discarding the possibility of a Tiger shark at this stage.  Further detail studies will be conducted during the coming days.

Yesterday morning they met local fishermen and in the afternoon had a meeting with local technical experts in an effort to gather as much information as possible about Seychelles’ maritime policies, laws, local marine conditions and climate.
 
On Mahe, senior government officials met with the representatives of tourism businesses yesterday and briefed them on actions being undertaken.
 
The ban on swimming in Anse Lazio, Petit Anse Kerlan, Anse Georgette, Curieuse and St Pierre is still on.  In other areas, swimmers and divers are being asked to take necessary precautions.

In an effort to increase surveillance, support has been sought from Air Seychelles pilots who regularly overfly the area to keep a look-out for any large fish in the sea and to report any sighting.  This is being supported by patrol boats from the Seychelles National Parks, local fishermen and the Coast Guard.

The Government of Seychelles has reiterated that it is against putting a bounty on sharks and the indiscriminate killing of sharks.  It has reaffirmed the fact that it will apply internationally accepted best practices to address the problem based on advice from the shark experts.

In the meantime, all fishermen who catch a shark are being asked to report to Rodney Quatre, the research manager of the National Parks Authority who is collecting data on sharks.  His phone number is 2726104

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