A court in the French Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia has suspended the cull of sharks, ruling there was not enough information on their numbers or the environmental impact of the hunt.
Authorities in the south of the archipelago – located about 1,200 kilometers east of Australia – had given the green light to hunting in three coastal reserves after a series of attacks on humans which left seven people dead over the last five years.
An Australian tourist was killed by a shark in February, three weeks after another swimmer was seriously injured in an attack at the same location.
But environmental group Together For The Planet (EPLP) took legal action to stop the anti-shark campaign, calling it “environmentally irresponsible”.
On Thursday, the administrative court of New Caledonia suspended a cull, citing “the absence of precise scientific studies both on the size of the populations of tiger and bulldog sharks and on the environmental impact of their harvest”.
EPLP president Martine Cornaille welcomed the decision, saying: “We consider this a significant victory, because we know that 60 percent of the sharks culled are in these nature reserves.”
She said the group is also considering taking legal action against shark hunting outside reserves.
Many environmental groups oppose shark culls. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says they are “likely to cause a cascade of additional ecological problems, while giving the public a false sense of security.”
The indigenous Kanak people of New Caledonia also oppose anti-shark campaigns because the species has a sacred status in their culture which considers sharks an integral part of the ecosystem.
New Caledonian authorities did not immediately respond to requests for comment.