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06/10/2020 - Nicolas Blaucher - New Caledonia *** Fatal ***

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06/10/2020 - Nicolas Blaucher - New Caledonia *** Fatal ***

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Nicolas Baucher shark attacks New Caledonia shark attack killed by aggressive attacking shark. Only his harness - which showed traces of bites attributed to a large tiger shark - made it possible to favor the trial of an attack **

managing Shark Risks

After the disappearance of a windsurfer and the signaling of an aggressive shark in the area where he had evolved (Ricaudy reef), the town hall of Nouméa and the southern province proceeded to eliminate two tiger sharks. Other reports have arisen in recent days.

Some 200 people paid tribute, Sunday, to Nicolas Baucher, the windsurfer who disappeared on June 10, while sailing near the Ricaudy reef. Research, it will be recalled, did not make it possible to find him. Only his harness - which showed traces of bites attributed to a large tiger shark - made it possible to favor the trail of an attack. In the process, several corroborating testimonies indicating the presence in this area of ​​a large shark, with deviant and aggressive behavior, convinced the authorities to act. At the request of the town hall of Nouméa, as part of a derogation provided for by the environmental code, the services of the southern province proceeded to eliminate two tiger sharks. Unlike the regulatory operations carried out on bulldog sharks,this one-off initiative aimed to protect lagoon users from another accident. The conclusions of the autopsies have, for the moment, not made it possible to determine if these sharks were at the origin of the death of the young man, but scratching, the head of a large dog with a thick collar was found in the body of one of the beasts. Additional analyzes are awaited.
In the following days, reports were given in Baie-des-Citrons, Toro bay and Maa bay (Païta) forcing the authorities to prohibit access to the beach. At the beginning of June, Poé and Pandop were also concerned.

A risk to human life

This event once again livened up conversations. On Facebook, the New Caledonia Shark Prevention page, like many Caledonians, found this operation perfectly legitimate in view of the context, in order to avoid other tragedies. The authorities were found to be taking their responsibilities, with a proportionate response, aimed at protecting people practicing water sports. On the other hand, several associations including Sea Shepherd, WWF, Caledoclean, SOS Mangroves continue to oppose lethal practices which they deem "ineffective and obsolete, dealing only superficially with the shark risk in New Caledonia". For Sea Shepherd,this decision was based in this case on an accident whose origin is not clearly identi ed and on a “dirty mouth” of the shark “sacrificed on the altar of our ignorance”. For its part, Together for the Planet, evokes "a useless and dangerous butchery". EPLP regrets that the workshops held last September on this issue “find this kind of outcome”.

Working axes

The “biodiversity workshops: from prevention to shark risk management - shared solutions”, organized by the province and bringing together some sixty stakeholders from the world of the sea, have made it possible to define several major areas of progress which are not forgotten on both sides: the need to better understand sharks and management systems (movements, behavior, attacks, technologies and protective measures, etc.); to regulate, control and strongly sanction behavior that attracts or sedentary sharks; to speed up the restoration of the quality of coastal waters (urban water purification, agricultural and industrial discharges, etc.); to support the fishing industry "without penalizing it" or to strengthen communication allowing knowledge of sharks,their role and the right behaviors.
Regulation, on the other hand, has never achieved consensus. Its detractors already evoked a lack of scientific basis, the place of the shark in the ecosystem, its quality of protected species or the fact that the regulation "does not act on the cause" of the problem. Other actors were in favor, within the framework of an action plan integrating a control of the causes, to a regulation in the event of proliferation, of continuous presence in a bathing area, of sedentarization. They mentioned the setting of a quota based on a census with valuation of carcasses. The impact on the tourist image and the fish stock was also discussed. We were mainly talking about the bulldog shark, some specimens of which have since been banded, which is not the case with tiger sharks. Authorities,who is responsible for protecting both populations and biodiversity, must strive to find the right balance. And given the turn of things by the sea, the subject is far from closed.

The customary Senate against slaughter

The environment commission of the Customary Senate took a stand on Wednesday, June 24, against the slaughter of sharks decided by the southern province at the request of the Nouméa town hall. Senators deemed it urgent to rule on the issue and called these practices "free". For the customaries, sharks are totemic animals and are protected in certain districts.


Translated from French
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