Outer Cape Shark Mitigation Alternatives Analysis

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Town Managers and Administrators from Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet, Eastham, Orleans and Chatham, the Superintendent of the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy announced the release of the "Outer Cape Shark Mitigation Alternative Analysis" report. There were 27 Shark Mitigation Strategies included in the 6-month study, which was compiled by the Woods Hole Group, an international environmental services and products organization headquartered in Bourne, Massachusetts.

The intent of the report was to provide a comprehensive and consolidated analysis of all the shark mitigation technologies currently available as well as strategies proposed to increase public safety and awareness along regional beaches of the Outer Cape.

The mitigation strategies in the report were divided into three categories: technology-based, barrier-based and biological-based. This included barriers, tagging, visual detection, acoustic detection, magnetic, adaptive camouflage, culling, contraception, electric shock, scent smell and modifying behavior.

The Woods Hole Group worked to establish a comprehensive list of technology-based, barrier-based, and biological-based alternatives in the study. All available alternatives received equal consideration. The comprehensive list of alternatives was developed based on: 1) Researching strategies that had been implemented elsewhere around the world; 2) feedback from local Towns regarding alternatives suggested or presented by the public; 3) feedback given to municipal leadership by citizens, vendors, and/or stakeholder groups; and, 4) strategies suggested through a public survey conducted earlier this year, where over 500 members of the public responded.

The geographical range of the report was limited to beaches owned and maintained by the six Outer Cape Towns and the National Seashore. The beaches were either classified as open Atlantic Ocean, Cape Cod Bay, Nantucket Sound or estuaries. There were unique and variable environmental and marine conditions found due to the tides, winds and waves which created many challenges for the success of some of the Shark Mitigation Alternatives.

The most important finding to emphasize from the Shark Mitigation report is there is no one alternative or suite of alternatives that can 100% guarantee the safety of individuals who choose to enter the water. Prior to the deployment of any alternative, it will be critical to develop a regional consensus regarding the most appropriate pathway forward. To work towards a regional consensus, Woods Hole Group recommends the continued expansion of education and outreach efforts and open dialogue between stakeholder groups.

Contact Information

Superintendent Brian Carlstrom
Cape Cod National Seashore
99 Marconi Site Road
Wellfleet, MA 02667