France - 
Article published the Saturday 04 August 2012 - Latest update : Tuesday 07 August 2012

Man-eating sharks given reprieve in French Reunion Island

Reuters/Francisco Bonilla


A growing number of shark attacks in the waters off Reunion Island, the French department in the Indian Ocean, have prompted the government to consider allowing fishermen to go after sharks.

Last week a 22-year-old surfer died after a bull shark bit off his leg. It is the seventh shark attack since January 2011 and the third fatality this year.

The attack provoked a protest by 300 surfers who demonstrated outside the town hall demanding that sharks be fished.

Thierry Robert MP, mayor of St Leu commune, reacted by offering to pay fishermen to catch bull sharks.

But the French minister for Overseas Territories, Victorin Lurel, later revoked the decision, saying that the species are protected and so killing them would be breaking French law.

Environmental groups would like to see more research commissioned by the authorities into why the bull sharks have turned on people.

Lamya Essemlali, of the ocean conservation group Sea Shepherd France, told RFI “the government should focus more on finding out why the sharks are attacking in the first place.”

Bull sharks live in shallow warm waters and are responsible for the majority of shark attacks on humans.

Environmentalists argue that bull sharks are a critical element of the marine ecosystem.

“By killing them, the whole ecosystem is then impoverished,” concluded Essemlali.

For more recent developments see Shark bites off surfer's hand and foot in Réunion island's third attack

and Réunion island officials order shark fishing after eighth attack


tags: Environment - France - Reunion Island
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Comments (3)

Reunion shark attacks

I am shocked at the attitude of these surfers, they know that there are sharks in these waters, and the obviously know about previous attacks. If you go surfing getting attacked by a shark is the risk you take, it is not the animals fault, it is only following instinct. As for going out and killing them, that is a disgusting attitude to take, they are a protected species and quite rightly so, the number of sharks in the sea has dropped dramatically due to fear, bad publicity and shark finning. Sharks are the top of the food chain in the sea, and are crucial to the environment. Instead they should be taking precautions like nets etc, you cant just go out killing animals because they are killing you when you are in their territory, that attitude is exactly what is wrong with the world, proving that the most dangerous thing on this planet are humans, which makes me sad and ashamed, people need to start respecting what have on this planet because everything on this planet has every right to be here.

Well done French Authorities!

On behalf of Divers for Sharks, a global coalition of dive businesses, divers and ocean lovers who defend sharks both for their vital ecological role AND their importance for the generation of jobs and income for coastal communities through diving tourism, I applaud the brave and logical decision taken by French authorities in not endorsing a wanton, useless 'cull' of these already endangered animals. Shark incidents need thorough investigation, proper prevention and above all to be put in perspective with other risks to human life. Sharks need more, not less protection, if we all want to live in a planet with healthy oceans.


The picture in the article is of a Sand Tiger/ragtooth shark. that is not the picture of a bull shark.

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