A two-week long ban on amateur fishing and swimming off the coast of Ain Sokhna was issued by Suez Governor Ahmed El-Hiatmi following a shark attack last week that left 23-year-old Omar Abdel Qader with his leg amputated.
The decree issued on Sunday comes as the investigation into the causes of the accident continues in collaboration with the Central Administration for Biological Diversity and the Ministry of Environment.
“I’ve tasked the committee with two things: first, finding out whether there has been a rise in the number of sharks in the area and the potential danger that holds for tourists visiting the area, and second: understanding the effects of amateur fishing on the sharks’ feeding habits,” El-Hiatmi told Daily News Egypt on Monday.
“If the number of sharks has risen such that it compromises the security of tourists, we need to find ways to make sure the numbers comply with international safety standards. As you know, it is vital for tourism to continue and the safety of visitors is paramount,” El-Hiatmi added.
The attack took place 150 metres from the shore and 6 km away from the marina the boat initially set out from, in an area described by Mohamed Salim, head of the administration for biological diversity, as mountainous but not very deep.
Salim told Daily News Egypt that the investigations have so far indicated that the attack can be attributed largely to the mix of activities that take place in the area and could have drawn the shark so close to land.
“Activities like swimming and other water sports that take place in Wadi El-Dom and the surrounding areas mean that there are a lot of people around. When that is combined with the by-products of fishing—like bait, bones, or other waste—that could draw in sharks. It creates a highly risky situation,” Salim said.
Salim added that clearing the area for two weeks should discourage the sharks from returning there, while allowing investigators to further determine the cause of the accident.
Meanwhile, the biological diversity administration is looking into a long-term plan to prevent any further attacks. This plan involves assessing the size of the threat of shark attacks along the Egyptian coastline as well as creating awareness programmes for people who plan on visiting high-risk areas.
While officials have stressed that shark attacks in Egypt are rare, this most recent incident comes one year after a German national was attacked and killed in Marsa Alam.