Thursday, 23 June 2011

Warning posters issued to stamp out fish feeding and shark attacks in Sharm el Sheikh

Beach hotels and scuba schools, popular with thousands of British holidaymakers, in Sharm El Sheikh are being urged to support a new campaign to help lower the risk of more shark attacks in the Red Sea.
Egypt’s Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS) has printed posters in English, as well Arabic, Russian and Italian, to explain why the practice of fish feeding should be stamped out.

Some tour guides are known to throw food from their boats as bait, to attract greater numbers of tropical fish towards their guests, during scuba and snorkeling trips.

CDWS want this to stop and believes fish feeding causes behavioural changes in not only tropical fish, but also in the local shark population.

A spokesman for CDWS said the campaign aims to raise visitors’ awareness towards marine conservation issues and will discourage fish feeding in Ras Mohammed National Park and Sharm El Sheikh.

“Feeding the fish harms their biological functions and their ability to hunt for food.

“It leads to changes in the behaviour of fish and the related coral reef community,” say the bright yellow posters.

The CDWS has distributed the warnings to every beach hotel, excursion boat, live-aboard company and jetty in Sharm El Sheikh.

Last summer the resort’s beaches were closed to tourists and water sports were banned after several divers were attacked by sharks.

Oceanic white-tip reef sharks were blamed, but this was never confirmed.

Ryan Mowett, a dive master at Stoney Cove in Leicestershire, who dives regularly in the Red Sea, told me earlier this year that he thought feeding practices in Egyptian resorts were worrying.

He said: "If it had turned out that oceanic white tips carried out those attacks, it may mean their feeding practices are undergoing radical changes, and that is a concern."

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