Manhattan Beach lifts pier fishing ban, approves regulations following shark attack

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Manhattan Beach has moved to lift a temporary ban on fishing from the city's pier and replace it with new regulations following a great white shark attack last month, according to media reports.

In July, a long distance swimmer, identified as Steve Robles, was bitten by a 7-foot shark that had grown agitated after becoming hooked by a fisherman on the pier and struggling for 30 to 40 minutes. The shark pulled the line farther out to sea and drifted into the path of passing swimmers.

The city council unanimously approved the urgency regulations at its regular meeting Tuesday, the Daily Breeze reports:

The council argued that the urgency fishing regulations related to equipment and methods are necessary to protect the health and safety of swimmers and surfers in the wake of a recent shark attack.

“This is about protecting people who use the beach,” said Councilman Wayne Powell. “We need to have regulations in place. (These) are reasonable. They won’t deny anglers their livelihoods, and they’re going to protect the safety and health of the public.”

"We are not saying you can’t fish, we are not saying you can’t cast," Manhattan Beach mayor Amy Howorth told KPCC, "even though you can’t cast overhead. We are saying that you have to do it within reason."

Howorth said they were trying to address needs that have changed since turn of the 20th century laws providing for fishing.

"People fished primarily for food, it was definitely a major source of food for many people. Nowadays we have a lot more people living in our state, it’s a much more densely populated state.  We have a lot of people that use the water recreationally. We had to really balance those needs, and really the most important thing to me is the public safety."

CBS2 reports Robles was at the council meeting and shared his sentiments about the ruling:

“Most likely, this shark and any other shark is not going to want anything to do with people, as long as there’s responsible activity of the fishermen that can be accountable in a responsible way,” Robles said. “This should never happen again.”

The decision is not without controversy, however. The regulations were approved despite warnings from at least two state agencies that the city was acting outside its jurisdiction.

“The clearest thing in this whole issue is the city doesn’t have the authority to establish fishing regulations,” Sonke Mastrup, executive director of the California Fish and Game Commission, told the Breeze. “Since 1902, the Fish and Game Commission has had exclusive authority to regulate fishing activity, gear and methods.”

And the California Coastal Commission has said the pier is under the commission’s jurisdiction, the Breeze reports.

The new regulations prohibit chumming, or throwing fish or parts in the water to attract sharks; using extra large hooks or two hooks on a line; using any fishing line other than a monofilament line tested up to 40 lbs.; and using steel, metal or braided leader lines; among other restrictions.

This story has been updated.

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