Court suspends shark cull in French Pacific archipelago, citing ‘absence’ of scientific studies

A court in the French Pacific territory of New Caledonia has suspended a shark cull, saying there was insufficient information about their numbers or the environmental impact of a hunt.

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Authorities in the Sud province of the archipelago — which lies around 1,200 kilometres (750 miles) east of Australia —had given the go-ahead for the hunt in three coastal reserves after a series of attacks on humans that killed seven people in the past five years.

An Australian tourist was killed in February by a shark, three weeks after another swimmer was badly hurt in an attack at the same spot.

But ecologist group Together For The Planet (EPLP) took legal action to stop the anti-shark campaign, calling it “environmentally irresponsible”.

On Thursday, New Caledonia’s administrative court suspended a cull, citing the “absence of precise scientific studies both on the size of tiger and bull shark populations as well as the environmental impact of removing them”.

EPLP preident Martine Cornaille welcomed the decision, saying: “We see this as a significant victory, as we know that 60 percent of the sharks that are culled are in these nature reserves”.

She added that the group also plans to take legal action against shark hunting outside the reserves.

Many environmental groups oppose the culling of sharks. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says they are “likely to cause a cascade of further ecological problems, while giving the public a false sense of security”.

New Caledonia’s indigenous Kanak people are also opposed to the anti-shark campaigns because the species has a sacred status in their culture which sees sharks as an integral part of the ecosystem.

New Caledonian authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.


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