Shark experts brief local authorities on initial findings


This comes after four days of intensive collection of data and information in an effort to build a clear picture of what caused the recent shark attacks at Anse Lazio, in which a Frenchman and Englishman lost their lives.

The meeting, held at the Raffles Hotel on Thursday, was chaired by Minister Joel Morgan and attended by senior officers of key agencies including the principal secretary of Environment, chief executive (CEO) of the Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration (SMSA), CEO of the National Parks Authority (NPA), deputy CEO of the Seychelles Tourism Board (STB), representatives of the Police, the Seychelles Fishing Authority (SFA) and the CEO of the Seychelles Hospitality and Tourism Association (SHTA).

The experts -- Michael Anderson Reaves and Geremy Cliff -- presented the history of shark attacks around the world and the impact they have had on the economies of coastal cities relying on coastal tourism like Durban.
They showed the Committee the various methods applied in South Africa and Australia to catch large sharks such as gill nets, long lines and drumlines.

  They explained that these are used in very popular swimming areas in combination with other safety measures in an effort to remove any potentially dangerous sharks before they can attack swimmers.
In many cases, these are deployed with exclusion nets which act as a barrier, preventing any shark from entering the area used by swimmers. 

The South African experts also touched on a series of other best practises applied in South Africa, Australia, the Caribbean and other parts of the world where there are much greater numbers of shark attacks.

  For example a good system of surveillance and monitoring are used as part of prevention measures and a rapid response system supported by the availability of emergency shark attack first aid pack in the immediate vicinity of popular beaches form part of their response strategy.

Based on the information and recommendations provided by the experts the Emergency Committee led by Minister Morgan took the following decisions.

1. The tooth of the shark will be sent to South Africa for further research to determine the identity of the shark.  DNA tests are to be conducted on it.

2. Two exclusion nets will be erected at Anse Lazio as soon as possible to facilitate swimming in the area and another one at Petite Anse Kerlan.  These will be set up as trials and as temporary measures.  Praslin Development Fund has been given the responsibility to lead this particular activity.

3. In an effort to provide greater safety for swimmers the Seychelles Fishing Authority has been given the responsibility to coordinate and manage the use of drumlines just outside these swimming areas.
4. Seychelles Fishing Authority will intensify its research on bull and tiger sharks in Seychelles coastal waters.  The study exists already but now will be given higher priority.

5. Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration is to intensify its work in enforcing against pleasure boats that dispose of their waste at sea especially in coastal waters.

6. Seychelles Maritime Safety Administration will import emergency shark attack first aid packs and place them at strategic points on popular beaches.  The Administration will employ and train life guards in using them.
7. Monitoring and surveillance plans will be developed for strategic areas.

8. An emergency protocol will be developed and personnel of key agencies will be trained in using them.

9. The South African experts will develop a list of best practices that will be shared with all concerned.

10. The Seychelles government will make a formal request to the Kwazulu Natal Shark Board with the aim of establishing long-term cooperation between the Board and the Seychelles government.  The aim is to obtain the assistance of the South African experts to help government in building a robust institutional framework to address the local shark problem.

The experts are now more confident that it was a tiger shark that attacked the victims at Anse Lazio, following the capture yesterday morning of a 3.60m tiger shark off the coast of Grand Anse Praslin (see separate story above).

  Its guts was removed and examined but no human remains were found in it.  It must be noted that after so many days it will be difficult for any remains to be found.

The government has thanked all those who have so far contributed positively towards finding tangible solutions in tackling this very difficult situation; special mention goes out to the hospitality industry, the people of Praslin, the Praslin fishermen and Praslin Development Fund.
The ban on swimming at Anse Lazio, Grand Anse Kerlan, Petite Anse Kerlan, Anse Georgette, Curieuse and St Pierre is still in force.  In other areas swimmers and divers are being asked to take all necessary precautions.

In the meantime anyone who catches a shark is being asked to report to Denis Matatiken of the National Parks Authority, who is collecting data on sharks.  His phone number is 2723417.

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