Around New England

Secrecy Abounds in Government Officials’ Shark Meetings on Cape Cod

August 8, 2019

Local, regional, state, and federal government officials afraid that supporters of hunting sharks and seals would dominate the discussion have kept meetings on Cape Cod’s shark problem closed to the public.

“The public and the media have been banned from meetings of the regional shark working group composed of town employees, state shark scientists and environmental police, and members of the private nonprofit Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. Meetings between town managers and administrators and officials from the Cape Cod National Seashore also have been closed,” reports The Cape Cod Times.

As a result, members of the public interested in offering their ideas and vendors trying to sell products to deal with sharks have spoken during recent public meetings of the Barnstable County Commissioners, a board that oversees county government on Cape Cod but has no direct role in managing sharks in the waters off the Cape.

Public officials involved in the closed-door meetings on sharks note that they have solicited written comments from members of the public.

“But direct involvement by the public in the decision-making process has been lacking,” The Cape Cod Times reports.

A report by Woods Hole Research Group, a company hired by six Outer Cape towns and the Cape Cod National Seashore to study the problem, is scheduled to be released in September, according to The Cape Cod Times.

A former Orleans selectman quoted in the story says a regional multi-town government agency should be created to deal with the shark problem, which he says goes beyond the means of individual towns.

Last summer one man was bitten and seriously injured by a great white shark in Truro, and another in Wellfleet was killed by a great white shark.

Great white sharks in recent years have been attracted in large numbers to the Outer Cape because of the presence of thousands of seals, which the sharks like to eat.

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