Réunion to kill sharks ‘for research’

The French Indian Ocean island of Réunion is launching a 'scientific' cull of bull and tiger sharks after a spate of fatal attacks in recent weeks.

Authorities on the island announced the shark cull on Tuesday, along with a plan to make several surf spots on its beaches safer.

Starting this week, about 20 bull and tiger sharks will be captured by a professional fisherman for the purposes of scientific research, island authorities said. The decision reflects local concern following two fatal shark attacks this year, the most recent of which took place last week. Another surfer nearly lost a hand and a foot in an attack on Sunday. 

The mayor of Réunion's St Leu municipality, Thierry Robert, last week controversially offered to pay local fishermen to hunt and kill sharks in the island's waters. He later withdrew the offer under pressure from Victorin Lurel, the minister for the overseas territories, who said that such a cull would breach French conservation laws.

Xavier Brunetière, secretary general of the island prefecture, was quick to underline that the new cull was for research purposes.

“The operation isn’t aiming to control the population of sharks because it would be impossible to say when safety could be assured,” he said in a press conference yesterday.

“We’re capturing the sharks to see if they have toxins dangerous to humans in their blood.”

A young man was attacked and killed by a shark yesterday, the second fatal attack this year.

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