LE REUNION- With sadness and dismay the Tourist Office of Reunion Island (IRT) addressed the misfortune of the fatal accident involving a surfer who entered the ocean despite official warnings to stay out of the water. The IRT would like to express to the family and relatives of the victim their sincere condolences.
The accident occurred on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, in Saint-Gilles in a rocky area of the sea. Early in the morning on that day, orange shark warning flags were hoisted on the western coast of the island, particularly at surf spots known for favorable surfing conditions. Due to lack of visibility underwater and to oversee free surf sessions, lifeguards forbade any water sports on that day.
The danger posed by sharks is real, and it has already taken steps to reduce that risk. However, the successful containment of this threat requires the observance of certain rules and safety precautions. The surfer who died that day, however, chose to resist the warnings and recommendations and surfed at his own risk.
The IRT would like to emphasize that neither divers nor bathers are affected by the current events. The lagoon around L’Ermitage La Saline is protected by a coral reef, a natural barrier that makes the penetration of larger fish in the lagoon nearly impossible.
Surfers are also to observe certain safety precautions. These include surfing only at certain times of the day, paying attention to weather conditions and the state of the sea, limiting surfing to guarded beach areas, and following the recommendations of the local monitoring stations. Any persons failing to comply with the safety precautions will, in the future, be severely penalized in the interest of their own protection.
Education and the taking of effective measures are in strong focus. The communities of the west side of the island must use state funding and rapidly-deployable solutions that are in line with the law to ensure safety. It is a vital challenge the island of La Reunion takes very seriously.