Following the last accident in La Reunion Island (France)- which killed a 36-year-tourist ,Thierry Robert the mayor of Saint-Leu had issued a bylaw calling for shark fishing in the waters of his city, yet classified Marine Reserve National. This decree also offered to buy from the local fishermen who would volunteer, the first 40 sharks at the price of 7 euros per kilo - almost 2000 euros for a shark of 300 pounds, at taxpayer expense.
Sea Shepherd partnered with l’Aspas and Longitude 181 on this case to challenge the mayor in Court and not surprisingly, the Court invalidated the decree today. The judge has also stressed out the incompetence of the deputy mayor of Saint-Leu to derogate from the protection regime of the Reserve, and pointed at what he called an “inappropriate and disproportionate measure”. There is indeed no proof that there is a sedentary population of bull sharks present on the territory of Saint Leu nor that killing few dozens of them would in any way reduce the risk of accidents with surfers. Mr. T. Robert was well aware of the illegality of his authorisation since it was not his first attempt. In doing so, it has not hesitated to encourage fishermen to violate the laws of the Republic and to expose themselves to prosecution.
The deputy mayor of Saint-Leu has become customary to engage bylaws that he knows illegal and yet he doesn’t seem interested into taking some effective measures that would be fully within his jurisdiction. Namely, improving the treatment of wastewater from the town which is known to attract sharks near surfing areas. Mr. T. Robert is largely responsible for the situation in the vicinity of the town and at the same time, he is dishonestly trying to take credit from the impact of this crisis that may well make further victims, sharks and surfers side.
Instead of promoting terror and irrational behavior, this crisis should be answered by the implementation of the responsibility of everyone involved, starting with those who, under the guise of democratic representation, abuse their powers.
Our organisations will not cease to appeal to reason and to voice that there is room for all those who love the sea, alongside sharks while enforcing the law to protect the National Marine Reserve. We’ll maintain a spotlight in the national and international public opinion, on the way France manages this "shark crisis." What is happening now in La Reunion cristallises the preservation of the most fundamental values of biodiversity, and thus the long term survival of humanity.