Chatham Officials Approve Plan to Investigate Shark Netting

CHATHAM – Selectmen in Chatham have endorsed a proposal to consider netting or other barriers to keep seals and sharks out of the swimming area at Oyster Pond Beach.

The move follows vocal citizen concern regarding public safety in local waters and could be implemented as early as next summer.

Chatham officials have indicated that other solutions will likely be explored moving forward including potentially culling the region’s grey seal population.

“I’m not sure that this goes far enough,” said Dean Nicastro, Chairman of Chatham’s Board of Selectmen, citing several shark attacks which occurred over the summer.

Residents and officials have expressed concern that continued issues with sharks attacking humans in the water could take a toll on the town’s crucial tourism industry.

Selectmen also recently approved a new protocol for dealing with dead seals and a public information campaign to discourage beachgoers from feeding the animals.

Selectmen Jeffrey Dykens described the situation of the Chatham coast as a “seal tsunami,” with population estimates around 50,000 in the summer months.

Chatham resident Elaine Gibbs has been raising the issue at previous selectmen meetings as the number of seals coming into Oyster Pond continues to grow. She gave an impassioned speech at the recent selectmen’s meeting, saying she was afraid to allow her grandchildren to swim even in waist deep water anymore.

Since the recent shark attacks on Outer Cape beaches, Chatham selectmen said they’ve received letters of support from some residents who would support a seal cull off Monomoy as a way to reduce their population and hopefully reduce the number of great white sharks.

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