Helmut Nickel, Shark Year Magazine,
01. August 2012

Here is a short update on our previous article Shark hunt authorised by Mayor of Saint-Leu.

The order by deputy mayor Thierry Robert , authorizing the killing of bull sharks in the coastal waters of Saint-Leu (up to 300 metres from shore), has led to a lot of confusion in Reunion Island.

The legitimacy of this ‘bull shark cull’ was questioned.

Some sources are even reporting that the Prefect (on behalf of the state) immediately responded by sending police-officers to the fishing ports of the commune of Saint-Leu. They told local fishermen not to follow their mayor’s order. Most fishermen were not even aware of this development. Others said that they are not willing to take the risk and efforts for the „cheap price“ of 2,- Euros per kg,

Yesterday afternoon, deputy mayor T. Robert had a meeting with Victorin Lurel ( the Minister of Overseas France ).

Shortly afterwards, the minister told the media that Mr. Robert has withdrawn his order.
Victorin Lurel said: “Even if one could understand the motivations, we could not approve it because it was patently unlawful…”.

Thierry Robert has confirmed his withdrawal of the decree.
But the following announcement shows that the controversy on this issue is far from being over:

The questionable (unlawful) shark-hunt-order should be replaced by a prefectural by-law next week.

It is said that this new by-law will allow fishermen to catch sharks within 95 % of the Marine Reserve.

“The fishing technique will be defined by professional fishermen because they know how to proceed to take sharks”, explained Mr. Robert. But spearfishermen ( previously considered in Mayor Robert’s order) will be excluded from the hunt. And it seems that bull sharks and tiger sharks will be the targeted species.

Shark Year Magazine will keep you informed when more reliable details surface.

Below is a youtube-video of a second protest-rally (July 29th) by surfers and fishermen, including an interview with the deputy mayor of Saint-Leu. A few days earlier, demonstrators already gathered at Reunion’s Prefecture in Saint-Denis (see here).

Sources: clicanoo, linfo, zinfos974.

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