Swimming prohibited in Nouméa: the Ile aux Canards complex closes and prepares for closure

It has cascading consequences, the long bathing ban in Noumea linked to the risk of sharks. For the highly acclaimed structure that has animated Duck Island for two decades, it’s like a final blow. From next Monday, March 20, no more activities will be offered, let the administrator know.

Its coral beach, its underwater trail, its fare restaurant, its sculptures, its Sunday brunch, its taxi boats, its parties… Not far from the coast of Nouméa, the Île aux Canards has a special place in the hearts of many New Caledonians. But the structure that Thierry Rossignol created from scratch twenty-two years ago is floundering under the effect of cumulative obstacles. The swimming closure, just in effect until December 31, sounds like a final blow, after the Covid crisis, the absence of cruise passengers, economic difficulties or repeated bad weather.

Has Duck Island sung its swan song? After the health crisis, the complex had already gone from thirty to twelve employees. Gold, “I just fired three people this morning”entrusted Thierry Rossignol to NC la 1ère on Sunday March 19. “Another part will follow next week. We don’t know what to do anymore, how to reinvent ourselves.”

Thierry Rossignol announces that from Monday, March 20, he will be alone on his structure on Île aux Canards.

The man looks back on the successive shark attacks in early 2023 in Nouméa.“Since the first shark warning, we’ve been doing it thinking that this warning and the decisions made by the town hall would pay off, and that it was just a bad time to pass. But the attacks have been multiple, the incidents have been been very serious, and the decisions made to preserve the population have meant that we have had no customers since January 29. People came here to bathe.

Yet there is this feeling of having “tried everything”. “After the great depression we had two weeks ago, we rebuilt the whole beach, because it was destroyed. We hoped that activities would resume, so the working tool had to be able to receive people. We talked with many hopes restored, waiting for the 20 [mars] to be able to reopen and see customers come back.”

“We have made every efforthe repeats. We have not seen anyone for over a month and a half now and financially it is something that cannot be overcome for us. So we are on the verge of a closure.” The three layoffs this Sunday match “three positions that I recreated after the Covid event and last year, which had not been easy. But with the return of tourists and the departure of La Niña, we had a lot of hope for this year 2023. These attacks repeated sharks and the dramas that this has led to…”

Duck Island abandoned by swimmers in March 2023.

As of Monday, March 20, there are no more employees on Duck Island, no more water taxi service organized by the structure, and no more activities offered. Thierry Rossignol plans to organize events from time to time. “But I don’t have the resources to maintain my payroll, it’s over. We did everything we could to keep it up, we spent what little money we had to maintain the business, to train the staff preserved. But now we have come to the end.”

The full report by Aurélien Pol and CEdric Michaut:


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