— CHRISTOPHER NEFF, AUGUST 10 2012
In 2011, the island of Reunion in the Indian Ocean experienced six shark bite incidents, two of which were fatal with one serious injury. In 2012, Reunion has had more tragedies as one fatality on 24 July was followed by a serious shark bite on 5 August. In tragic company, Reunion has joined Port St. John’s in South Africa and Perth in Western Australia as the locations facing the extremely difficult task of responding to these clusters of fatal incidents.
The community’s search for answers is understandable. In particular, it is important to note that 50% of all incidents at Reunion since 1980 have been fatal. This fundamental question is: what to do? This week, Reuters reported that France would hire fishermen to kill 20 sharks as part of its scientific research. A local Mayor suggested that incentives should be given to fishermen to aggressively address the shark bite problem. And, again, the goal of addressing the issue, stopping future shark bites and restoring safety is reasonable. However, the question is whether these methods work at stopping shark bites?