In a knee jerk reaction to a second shark related human casualty in the French ruled Reunion Island, the local government has sanctioned the killing of 90 tiger and bull sharks in the region. For sure it is sad that the 2 tragedies took place, but then again is this really the solution to the real problem?
Unprovoked shark attacks on humans have remained more or less constant over the last decade. As human populations grow and with increasing ocean recreation, coupled with problems such as over-fishing and other changes in the marine ecosystems we might not even be aware of, increased aggravations between sharks and humans are to be expected.
But is indiscriminate killing the right way? A more sensible approach would be to earmark certain territories, which are known to be shark rich waters, as protected and off-limits for human activities such as swimming and surfing. In a positive move and recognizing the immense importance of sharks within the already fragile marine ecosystems, the state of California joined 5 other US states in banning the sale of Shark fins. Indonesia also declared 46000 sq. km of its marine waters as a sanctuary for sharks earlier this year.
In the last twenty years, there have been an average of 5 human deaths due to shark attacks annually. Meanwhile, we’ve been killing an estimated 73 Million sharks each year, driving certain species close to extinction. Now in what world does that make any sense?