Report on shark attacks optimistic

Dalia Farouk, Sunday 12 Dec 2010

Experts believe that shark attacks in Sinai can be reduced, but action has to be taken and the marine environment respected

(photo : REUTERS)
A final report issued by an expert committee formed after a series of shark attacks on tourists in South Sinai has outlined several recommendations on how to curb attacks. 
The report was put together with the cooperation of international shark experts. 
Among the report's recommendations is implementing a monitoring system capable of notifying swimmers and tourists of approaching sharks. It also underlines the importance of having lifeguards on beaches and that hotels cease all activities that harm the environment and induce shark attacks. Shark hunting and other aggressive fishing activities should also stop.

The report also recommends the creation of a map that charts the movements of sharks of different species in the Red Sea.

According to the report, it is important to eliminate some of the fear that has spread among tourists about the shark attacks that took place last week. Nonetheless, it is also necessary to take precautions in case of further attacks in the future. The report assures that with the right measures taken, the threat of attacks can be decreased, allowing tourists to enjoy the beauty of Egypt's beaches, which have been dubbed “a tourism treasure” by George Burgess, director of the Florida Programme for Shark Research.

According to one security official who spoke on condition of anonymity, South Sinai has already begun implementing steps to protect people from shark attacks, including installing reinforced steel nets to block sharks from entering beach areas. The nets, of 15 centimetre mesh, will still allow colorful fish to exit and enter.

Currently, a technical committee, part of the Suez Canal Administration, is conducting a survey to decide in which areas it is best to install the nets. The South Sinai governorate will pay for the net for now; however, there is still disagreement between Egyptian and international experts and the Ministry of Environment about the plan, specifically in areas with coral.

Some hotels in Sharm El-Sheikh have already installed monitoring towers with trained lifeguards with whistles — one of the conditions the South Sinai governorate stipulated before allowing hotels to open their beaches again. Instructions also have already been handed out to tourists not to feed fish and to only swim in specific areas. White, red and black flags have also been put up to warn tourists of danger levels.

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