“I think it’s stupid. I’m shocked they banned surfing in the area. If we want to surf, we risk 38€ and possible prison time. If I want to surf, I will.” – Damien Ferrere, 16-year old local told surfermag
Reunion Island (a French territory near the east coast of Africa) is one of the best surf destinations on Earth and they’ve just banned surfing anywhere outside of the islands lagoons (lagoons have no surf). The government has instituted this ban in response to a wave of shark attacks that have occurred around the island in the past 6 years.
Right now, surfing is banned at Reunion Island until October 1st, 2013. If you’re caught surfing, you’ll be given a $50 fine. The government has also decided to kill 90 sharks in the meantime. They plan to kill 45 Tiger Sharks & 45 Bull Sharks (the shark species that most commonly attack people in the Reunion Island). They’re doing this thinking it will help keep shark attacks down in the future.
“This is an archaic, knee-jerk reaction that seems more borne of vengeance than of science… This likely will blow up in their faces because most visitors to Reunion have a more sophisticated conservation ethic than the authorities are apparently giving credit them for.” – George Burgess, a shark expert with the Florida Museum of Natural History
REUNION ISLAND SHARK ATTACK INFO:
– 2 shark attack fatalities in past 3 months
– 15-year-old girl killed by shark very near shore was most recent fatality
– French surfer on his honeymoon was attacked and killed recently as well
– 38 reported shark attacks between 1913 & 2011
– 6 shark attacks in 2011 alone
Reunion Island government statement about surfing ban:
“An immediate prohibition of swimming, surfing and bodyboarding within the coastal strip of 300 meters from shore in the department of Reunion until October 1st, 2013. These activities are only allowed within the shallow ‘lagoon’ and supervised areas as determined by the Prefecture. Beachgoers who do not comply with the restrictions will be subject to a fine of 38 Euros ($50 U.S. dollars).
“A total of 90 sharks should be ‘taken’ as part of the scientific ciguatera program to assess the marketing objectives of sharks in Reunion Island.
“A new website, dedicated to inform the public about the shark risk in Reunion Island, will be established in October 2013.” – Reunion Island government
Many Reunion Island residents want some of their sharks killed off. After a fatal shark attack last year, 300 surfers protested outside a police station on Reunion Island asking that the shark population be controlled. The Reunion Island government responded to the public’s outcries andkilled 20 sharks last year in August after there had been 3 fatal shark attacks that year including 2 fatalities in 2 weeks.
This current surfing ban is certainly ridiculous to surfers. Surfers are going to surf, regardless of the consequences. If they’ve not been afraid of Tiger shark attacks, we don’t think that the $50 fine is going to deter them much.
We’ll keep you informed on how this surfing ban plays out.
REUNION ISLAND INFO:
Administratively, Réunion is one of the overseas departments of France. Like the other overseas departments, Réunion is also one of the 27 regions of France (being an overseas region) and an integral part of the Republic with the same status as those situated on the European mainland.
Learn More: Reunion Island