Reunion seeks comprehensive approach to shark risks on its beaches


(Posted 28th April 2015)

Eight initiatives to accelerate and expand the implementation of the shark risk reduction plan in Reunion were recently suggested to address the situation on the French region of Ile de la Reunion. Aware of the importances and urgency of a comprehensive action has the Minister for Overseas Regions, Mr. George Pau-Langevin, announced last Friday eight initiatives to accelerate and extend the implementation of the shark risk reduction plan which, since July 2013 involves the Ministry of Ecology, Sustainable Development and Energy, the Ministry of Education, the Higher Education and Research, the Department of the City, Youth and Sports, the Ministry for Overseas Regions, local authorities, associations and marine experts.

Following a meeting held in St. Paul with the various local stakeholders and partners in the shark risk reduction policy, the Minister first indicated that the budget for actions financed by the State as part of the shark plan will be increased from € 650,000 to € 1 million or six million euros over the period 2015-2020.

The Minister then detailed the eight initiatives that will be implemented with these additional resources:

1) An increased effort to secure beaches designated for swimming and water sports activities

Alongside the Region, which has announced plans to mobilize European funds, the state financially accompany municipalities in their investments such as reinforced shark lookouts, safety nets or other techniques if their effectiveness is demonstrated. The objective is to establish as quickly as possible and in any event this year, a secure site in St. Paul, and accelerate the implementation of projects of Saint-Pierre, Saint-Leu and Three -Bassins.

2) A controlled increase in fishing of tiger sharks

The State undertakes to increase by 50% sea trips in a targeted program of fishing performed by professionals. This fishing activity will be authorized by the prefect within the Marine Nature Reserve. However, it does not amount in any way to the eradication of the sharks which would be contrary to the commitments of France in favor of biodiversity.

3) The search for durable solutions to market caught sharks

The increase in tiger shark samples will help in the analysis to the ANSES (National Health Security Agency for Food, Environmental and labor) can have the necessary elements to conclude as soon as possible on the possibility of human consumption of shark meat. For now, the ban on human consumption must remain until the health risk is lifted.

4) The preservation of fragile balance within the Marine Reserve

The Marine Nature Reserve, which after three decades of warnings on the degradation of reef of La Réunion, will in no case be affected or questioned. Selective fishing programs will be extended into the marine nature reserve, but the state will remain firm on the conditions for exercising recreational fishing underwater that will not be extended.

5) Increased scientific knowledge of efforts

The state will increase its support to knowledge of programs and scientific expertise, notably to extend the listening stations network and better monitoring of shark movements and to better assess the shark population on the outskirts of La Reunion.

6) Increased support to prevention associations

Increased financial support will be provided to organizations whose initiatives contribute to the overall response for prevention and risk reduction, such as, for example, support for the tasks of monitoring and attack prevention, by various associations and stakeholders.

7) Accelerating the development of resources and support center

This resource and support centre, which mission will be to coordinate the policy of reducing shark risk, communicate towards the public and for the management of crisis, will beome operational this year. Synergies between this structure and the Marine Nature Reserve will be sought to promote a comprehensive approach.

8) The revival of tourism in Reunion

The request for support of Reunion tourism professionals was taken into account. The next meeting of the Tourism Promotion Council dedicated to Overseas Regions, the Minister of Overseas George Pau-Langevin will co-chair a meeting in June with Laurent Fabius, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development to include measures to ensure enhanced promotion of the destination.