The Tobago Shark attack reward debacle

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The Tobago Shark attack reward debacle

Many are describing the recent reward for the capture of of a bull shark which attacked a British tourist at a beach on the sister island on Friday as an embarrassing blunder by Tobago House of Assembly (THA) Chief Secretary Farley Augustine. Augustine has since retracted the advertisement for the reward and apo­logised for the “confusion” over an advertised $10,000 reward for the capture of the bull shark.

The online ecosystem surged to respond to the reward ridiculing Augustine and the Assembly with scores of ‘shark’ memes over the weekend. British national Peter Smith, 64, sustained serious injuries after being attacked by a bull shark while swimming at Turtle Beach around 9.15 a.m. Hours later, the THA advertised the $10,000 reward to registered fishermen to capture the shark.

Augustine said people assumed there were dozens of bull sharks lurking in Tobago’s waters. The advertisement  caused confusion, notwithstanding the fact that the suggestion came from stake­holders. It has been recalled because there was so much confusion over the bounty. So while the department is recalling the advertisement, there are experts who will treat with the matter dealing with the bull shark.

The Department of Marine Resour­ces continues to monitor this space. We will continue to ensure that we can treat with this matter in the most responsible manner possible. The last sighting was in the Buccoo area, and we will continue with the use of drones to ensure that we keep you safe. Augustine said Smith was in stable condition and receiving the best care that Tobago can offer. The incident has attracted international attention through several international news agencies.

THA Chief Secretary Augustine said while Smith and his wife, Joanna, were scheduled to leave Tobago to return to the United Kingdom on Friday, their extended stay will be the responsibility of the THA and other stakeholders who have already been assigned to take care of their immediate needs.