The Marine Sanctuary is not a “shark tank”!

Emphasizing once again the old “arguments”, a “collective family of victims of the shark attack on Reunion Island” recently released a press release – a false statement. truth – which put it back to the environmental protection association. and Marine Protected Area.

The latter will be responsible for attacks as a “shark tank”.

And to denounce “the madness of the shark god [….] nature’s extremists yearn for human sacrifice” (sic!), and “the incompatibility of a Marine Protected Area in the heart of a coastal area. A situation that is unique in the world and has not yet been subject to the slightest modification despite our relentless request. »

Unfortunately, things are not so simple… And, as usual, the conclusions of scientists and fishermen are quite different.

In his opinion on February 9, 2017 regarding the draft provincial decree to allow the fishing of tiger sharks and bulldog sharks in front of Boucan Canot beach (thus in a full marine reserve ), the Scientific Council (CS) of the Marine Protected Area (RNNMR) reiterates the official position of the Recombinant Fisheries Commission (CRPMEM):

“CS recalls that during a presentation to the Saint-Paul Sub-County on August 5, 2015 by CRPMEM on the report “Cap Claims 2 Hypotheses and Scientific Issues” prior to the implementation of the program itself, the leader The director of Project Cap Requins 2 emphasizes the fact that “RNNMR is part of the solution to the shark crisis, not a problem”.

And CS recalls some extracts from this CRPMEM report:

Paragraph p.38, affirming the desire to “comprehensively support RNNMR”.

It is stated that “this support translates into a desire to best reconcile effective fishing requirements targeting bulldog sharks with compliance with RNNMR zoning and regulations, a fully transparent process.” awareness of fishing practices and their outcomes within the periphery of the RNNMR, opposition to fishing deregulation, or awareness among all users of the need for RNNMR, whose principles of it constitutes one of the unusual conditions for solving the “shark crisis”.

The concluding part of this paragraph affirms this desire for positioning: “Beyond these fundamental issues, at a time when the placement of different segments of the Reunionese population seems strongly opposed around solutions. As a response to the “shark crisis”, CRPMEM by Reunion and its partners around the Cap Requins program wishes that this position in favor of RNNMR is embraced by all actors and users of Reunion’s marine environment. recognition and respect The recognition of the RNNMR as a key player in the conservation of Reunion’s marine environment is a matter of priority in addressing the “shark crisis” in Reunion and a way for all Their preferences should be viewed in terms of official, anecdotal divergences artificially rigged on the basis of ideological or personal considerations, all of which disconnected from the real threats that weigh on the natural space managed by the RNNMR’s GIP and recognized means necessary for it to function properly. »

Don’t throw anymore, the yard is full…

Now let’s move on to scientific studies.

In 2019, Soria et al (1) published a study disproving the Marine Sanctuary’s responsibility for shark accidents with surfers. Their conclusions are as follows:

“The spike in shark attack rates on Reunion Island is attributed by some to the establishment of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) along the island’s west coast, where the attacks, mainly due to the bull shark Carcharhinus leucas, has been focused We used passive acoustic telemetry to study the spatial distribution of bull sharks (N = 36) by quantifying habitat. Their habitat and frequency in the MPA and a comparison of them outside the MPA During the 17-month study, 18 sharks were detected in the recording network, most of which were spotted regularly. than outside the MPA [….] only inside the MPA [….]. However, we did find differences in MPA use by sharks. Thirteen sharks were more outside the MPA than inside, while 5 sharks (all females) spent significantly more time inside the MPA. These results suggest that the spatial distribution of bull sharks is mainly not concentrated in the MPA along the west coast of Reunion Island, although we have identified specific locations where the probability of hitting foreheads with bull sharks are relatively high during specific times of the year. These high-risk areas could be targeted as part of a risk management strategy for changes in human use to reduce the risk of negative interactions between sharks and sharks. humans observed in the past decade. »

“With the goal of implementing an effective warning and prevention strategy in Reunion, this result demonstrates the need to focus more on the use of shark habitat, movement and fidelity than is the impact of the MPA, which is probably not the cause of the increase in incidents. »

Two years later, the conclusion was verified by another study by Niella et al. (2021) (2) one of the co-authors is none other than David Guyomard, current scientific director of the Shark Safety Center and avid advocate of “shark hunting”:

“Since 2007, a large portion of the reefs on the west coast of Reunion Island have been protected by the MPA. Our results do not indicate greater use of MPA by sharks or other elasmobranch species, supporting previous telemetry studies indicating that bulldog sharks did indeed spend more time in the sea outside the MPA. than on the inside (Soria et al. 2019). »

The research is highlighted in an article in JIR dated March 25, 2021, where David Guyomard was interviewed, titled “Absolutely Necessary to Protect Marine Protected Areas”:

“One of the lessons of this study is the zero impact of marine protected areas on shark presence. David Guyomard said: “Those who say the sanctuary is a vacuum cleaner for bulldog sharks are completely wrong. “Our data shows that we’re not catching more sharks in the reserve than outside,” said Erwann Lagabrielle, co-author of the study and a lecturer at La Réunion University. Therefore, the reserve is considered an area that will promote diversity of predators in order to limit the presence of bulldog sharks. “This is also why it is important to protect marine protected areas,” emphasized David Guyomard.

But I forgot, one obvious thing: everyone who dares to take a stand against the core of the local obnoxious surfers, who are constantly crying out for revenge, must necessarily be in good faith, whether they are scientists, fishermen, governors, MPAs. , ecologists or even… sharks.

So, making them listen to reason is clearly a waste of time.

I also forgot: as the surfers themselves remind us: “We know the risks. [….] In the latter, zero risk does not exist, we are well aware of that. We are adults, vaccinated, it’s passion above all else.”

This apparently allowed them to surf in the muddy water at the exit of the Port of Saint-Pierre at the mouth of the Rivière d’Abord on a very hot day (June 29, 22) despite the ban on access to the coast and calls for caution from the prefect, as it has been known since 2015 (see CHARC study (3)): that bulldog sharks prefer murky water and estuaries, they are more abundant in winter and when there is a wave bulging (turbid), etc… ..

Then, if an accident happens, they will cry and again the fault of scientists, fishermen, governors, marine protected areas, ecologists, sharks,… …

However, one thing is clear: if surfers exercised a minimum of caution, most accidents would have been avoidable in Reunion since 2011.

Didier Derand

Collective “Sharks in danger in reunion”

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