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Ban on MB Pier Fishing Extended

Jul 07, 2014 06:11PM ● Published by DigMB Staff

The City of Manhattan Beach extended a temporary no fishing ban on the Manhattan Beach Pier until Sept. 7.

A temporary ban on fishing from the Manhattan Beach Pier has been extended until Sept. 7, Manhattan Beach City Manager Mark Danaj told DigMB on his first official day of work with the city.

The lengthier ban comes as a wave of concern for public safety and anti-fishing sentiment swirls throughout the city after a swimmer was bitten by a great white shark Saturday morning as fishermen on the pier wrestled with the hooked shark. Injuries sustained by Steven Robles, 50, of Lomita were not life-threatening. His bloodcurdling screams after the shark bit him can be heard on video shot from the pier as the fishermen and spectators watched the anglers grapple with the shark as the horrific scene of Robles being attacked unfolded.

The video (not suitable for all ages) has been widely circulated, sparking even more outcry about the antics and tactics used by fishermen. On Saturday, after the shark incident, two 13-year-old Manhattan Beach boys who surf regularly said fishermen frequently use chum when fishing from the pier. Chum is bait, typically consisting of fish parts and blood, used to primarily attract sharks.

The fishermen on Saturday were using frozen sardines and anchovies, not chum, according to sources familiar with the incident.

After Saturday's shark incident, community members have taken to Facebook to vent their frustrations with fishing practices, saying some fishermen chuck their lines at surfers and that swimmers frequently get caught in or clipped and cut by thick fishing line.

Still others take issue with fishermen who purposely come to the pier to fish for great whites, which are known to frequent the waters off Manhattan Beach. 

Great white sharks are a protected species in California, said Ken Peterson, communications director with the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which has been studying and "consistenly tracking" juvenile great white sharks since 2002.

Peterson was surprised to hear that a California Department of Fish & Wildlife staffer had said it was legal to struggle with a hooked white shark and that the only illegal move was to kill one.

None of the reported three fishermen who grappled with the white shark Saturday was cited at the scene, said a public information officer with Los Angeles County, which oversees the lifeguards who patrol Manhattan Beach.

"As soon as I say, 'Holy smokes, I've got a great white [hooked],'" Peterson told DigMB the line to the shark should be cut. As he understands the protection given to great white sharks, you "cannot harm or catch" one. 

"You have to ask typically with any protected species, if I am doing anything that disturbs the creature from living its usual life. With a protected species, I have to say affirmatively, I should do no harm. As soon as you know you have one [a white shark], you have a responsibility to minimize harm.

"If I have to struggle on a line for a long time, that feels really wrong. Do your part and respect the ocean," he said.

Peterson told DigMB that fishermen know great white sharks are a protected species. "My understanding is fishermen know they're not supposed to catch them."

As the debate over whether or not to allow fishing on the Manhattan Beach Pier continues, the City of Manhattan Beach issued an emergency coastal development permit which temporarily prohibits fishing on the Manhattan Beach Pier for up to 60 days, said Mayor Pro Tem Wayne Powell.

During the 60-day period, the city will consult with the State Coastal Commission, County of Los Angeles and other regulatory agencies to help evaluate impacts to public safety from allowing fishing from the pier, and determine if a change in regulations is necessary, Powell and Danaj said.

Powell also said the state Department of Fish & Wildlife is investigating the July 5th shark incident.

Related: Hooked Shark Bites Swimmer Near Manhattan Beach Pier - 07/05/2014
Related: Shark Incident Causes Uproar - 07/06/2014

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