PARIS — French fishermen will be on the hunt for a vulnerable shark species off the coast of the French Indian Ocean island of Reunion soon — and will pocket government cash for their kills after a dramatic rise in deadly attacks pushed Paris to take unprecedented measures.
Financial incentives will come into force as early as next week — and it’s provoked an outcry from animal rights groups, who call it a legalized “extermination.”
The sharks to be targeted are bull sharks, a large and aggressive species common in the Indian Ocean which is widely believed to be behind several recent attacks on people.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature, a leading conservation group that produces the world’s main list of endangered species, the so-called Red List, designates the bull shark as “near threatened,” meaning it could face the threat of extinction in the near future.
From 2000 to 2010, there were no shark attacks off Reunion and no calls for culling, but the last two years have seen several deadly attacks, the most recent coming last week when a 22-year-old surfer died after a shark bit off his leg. It was the seventh attack — and the third fatality — since the start of last year.
The attacks have frightened many local residents into staying on dry land.
“A couple of weeks ago, I allowed my son to go swimming,” said 49-year-old Philippe Nanpon, who spoke by telephone Wednesday from Saint-Paul, a district that has seen fatalities. “But now I won’t let him in. Until it’s over, it’s not safe.”
It’s not yet clear how much fisherman can earn from killing sharks, and the Paris government says it will give leeway to local authorities and fishermen in setting prices.MORE IN Wire NewsENNISKILLEN, Northern Ireland — Deep differences over Syria’s fierce civil war clouded a summit... Full StoryMARIPOSA, Calif. Full Story
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