Kelly Slater is facing heavy criticism for his comments on sharks.
The world’s best-known pro surfer is facing some heavy criticism after he called for a shark cull on an island in the Indian Ocean. Slater’s call comes in response to a fatal attack on a bodyboarder on Reunion Island, a region of France located east of Madagascar. The island has seen 20 attacks since 2011.
You can read his post below in which he calls for and defends an idea for a shark cull near the island.
Please say what you feel you need to say to me below. I promise I'll read all the comments and respond if I can. I have been an environmental activist and voice for more campaigns than I can remember. I've worked with Rhinos in South Africa to bring awareness and education to the poaching issues they experience. I've been a vocal opponent to #SharkFinning and find it a despicable practice which has no place in our world. I've worked with the @bosfoundation and raised funds for the protection and awareness around the plight of the Orangutans. I want to become vegan due to the treatment and slaughter of the most defenseless and innocent animals on this planet. I produce clothing from discarded fishing nets to help clean up the mess left behind by fishing industry. My heart is in the right place but now I am being vehemently attacked by the people I have most identified with for the majority of my life. Humans are the biggest threat to life on earth as most creatures know it. But they are also the most capable and able to fix the issues we face. My comments were in reaction to another death of a kid following his passion. I know more about this issues than 99+% of people commenting yet I still don't know enough. I was in no way advocating for a worldwide destruction of any species. In fact, there's a chance many more species of sharks and other sea life could thrive without the over abundance of bull sharks in Reunion Island ravaging the local environment. This is not about me having fun and being selfish for my sport. This is a human and environmental issue. Attacking me will do no good in the conversation that will continue to need to happen for resolution around this topic. I have never personally killed even a single shark in my lifetime and am not fronting an effort to do so. So say what you need to say and let's get on with where this needs to go. Maybe something good will come of it.
The backlash really shows how times have changed since Jaws made an entire generation afraid to go into the water in the 1970s. Kelly was quickly bombarded with hateful comments on both his Instagram and Twitter accounts.
This isn’t the first time the topic has come up for the island. Debate over a shark cull on Reunion has been raging for some time however. Many locals on Reunion are also in favor of a cull. In fact, attacks actually caused bans on surfing and sunbathing there a couple summers ago.
No one is exactly sure why attacks are up at Reunion. Some believe the creation of a marine preserve stopped shark fishing and led to a bump in the population. Others are saying the waters may be murkier around the island now due to more wastewater making it to the ocean as a result of the island’s growth.
Such waters are favored by bull sharks, the ones Slater says are a problem.
While the internet may not agree with him, Slater may have found some solidarity with Western Australia. Some residents and towns there have also called for shark culls in the face of rising attacks in recent years.