By David Breen and Tom GormanThe world’s biggest and most popular surfing holiday, Surfing Paradise, has been cancelled for the summer, amid warnings from the International Board of Marine Fisheries that the surge in shark attacks in the Arabian Gulf and Indo-Pacific is posing a significant risk to the tourism industry.
The International Ocean Tourism Organisation (IOTU) said last week that the spike in shark sightings in the Gulf and the Indo-Pac were a major threat to the tourist industry in the region.
“The recent increases in shark numbers are a direct result of human-caused climate change and marine debris, particularly overfishing and human encroachment on coral reefs,” the IOTU said in a statement.
The organisation’s chief executive, John White, said the event would go ahead in the summer.
“It’s a great experience, there’s no question about that.
But we don’t want to go down the path that has brought us so much grief, which is a very, very dangerous and irresponsible behaviour,” he said.
White said that it would take the industry “a lot of work to turn this around” but that the Iotu would “absolutely” continue to work with the industry to address the problem.
“I think it’s going to be a very long road,” he added.
Surfing Paradise will be cancelled at the end of the year, the IOM said.
IOTUs chief executive John White told Sky News the event was cancelled at his organisation’s request.
“We made it clear that this is not going to happen and we’re cancelling it,” he told Sky.
“There’s no other choice.
It’s been an absolute nightmare and it’s just absolutely not a sustainable business.”
The IOTu said the shark attack spike in the area coincided with the rise in sea temperatures in the last six months.
It added that the region had been hit by record high tides and coastal erosion.
“As sea levels rise, coastal areas around the world are affected, particularly in the Middle East and Africa, where we’re seeing more and more damage to coastlines, including in the Red Sea region,” the statement said.
“As the impact of these events increases, the effects of climate change are being felt in many parts of the world.
In some areas of the Pacific Ocean, such as in the Indo Pacific, there is a rising trend of rising ocean temperatures.”
The International Board said in February that it was taking shark attacks very seriously and the agency was currently assessing the impact on tourism and the environment.
In a statement on Friday, it said it was “very concerned about the continued high number of shark attacks and incidents”.
“The IBC has been tracking this trend and is concerned that this number is likely to continue,” the board said.
“The global community is also watching and we are working with stakeholders and agencies around the globe to ensure that measures are put in place to reduce the impact.
The global community must be aware of this issue, particularly the impact that this has on the global economy, tourism, the environment and human health.”
The announcement came a week after IOTUS president Simon Dixon said the board would not accept any company or organisation that refused to comply with regulations.
“Any company or entity that is not following IOT’s guidelines in any way, shape or form, will be considered to have a disregard for all applicable regulations and we will pursue the appropriate legal remedies,” Dixon said.