“By the pricking of my thumb, something wicked this way comes”, said a witch in Shakespeare’s play Macbeth. And it has come to us. Cruising our coastal waters with impunity. A Thing from our darkest nightmares….The Beast.The news of a second shark attack at Anse Lazio resulting in the horrible and tragic death of a British honeymooner Ian Redmond has resonated throughout the world, featuring in media from Sky News to Voice of Russia. Whilst our sympathies must go to the newly married Mrs Redmond and other members of the family, we must also take stock of our abilities to prevent and manage accidents involving tourists and others users of the sea.
Tourism has come relatively easy to Seychelles. A fabulously beautiful natural environment free of diseases and natural disasters, an educated, multiracial population welcoming visitors and a stable government has facilitated our smooth entry into up-market tourism. But let us face it. We have been basking in this utopian dream for a long time. Now reality has struck and we need to do some serious soul searching.
It is true the shark attacks came out of the blue (literally). But we have to wake up to the fact that unlike many beach destinations we have been able to get away with little health and safety infrastructure and public service for beach users. Many of our competitors have life guards, emergency response or first aid posts on their more popular beaches. We should be aware that the father of Nicolas Virolle, the shark attack victim killed two weeks ago, has blamed the “Seychelles obsession with money” for the latest tragedy.
We have also tended to be somewhat complacent about the discharge of waste from bareboats and other crafts. This has been known for some time – I myself alerted the relevant department sometime ago.
We must put our foot down as regards investors behaving badly as well. As I said a couple of weeks ago in this column there have been reports of foreigners baiting the waters to attract shark. Investing in our country, irrespective of the size of the investment, cannot give people carte blanche to put others or the economy at risk!
Finally, willing and able citizens must be encouraged to help the government. Years ago I suggested in this column that the authorities appoint voluntary Park Rangers since the existing law provides for this. We should go further and appoint voluntary lifeguards, special constables and so forth in the civilian population and give them the proper training and legal standing to undertake their duties.
Photo: Tiger Shark © Willie Volk, Via Flickr. Creative Commons Attribution License.
This article appeared in Nirmal Shah's column, Gaia, in the People on August 19, 201.