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Sharks Hold Forth in Manhattan Beach

Jul 15, 2014 09:35AM ● By Dig Mb Staff

A couple enjoys pushing a child in a stroller on the Manhattan Beach Pier just days after the shark incident. The pier was free of fishermen due to a temporary ban on fishing from the pier after Steven Robles was bitten by a great white shark hooked by a fisherman while swimming on July 5.

A shark talk sponsored by the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium and a report to the Manhattan Beach City Council on the Emergency Coastal Development Permit that temporarily bans fishing from the Manhattan Beach Pier through Sept. 7 are sure to be top draws in the city tonight.

The City Council meeting begins at 6 p.m. (in City Council Chambers at 144 Highland Ave., aka City Hall) with ceremonial calendar items and then moves to a report from City Manager Mark Danaj about the city-initiated fishing ban that was prompted by the July 5th shark incident in which a hooked great white bit a swimmer, sending him to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Mayor Amy Howorth told DigMB, "We're certainly not going to be banning fishing because we actually can't. We don't really have that jurisdiction."

Media has been casting the temporary pier fishing ban as one that could be permanent, and many Manhattan Beach residents have taken to social media in support of such a fishing ban.

At 7:30 p.m., Chris Lowe of the California State University at Long Beach Shark Lab will discuss the juvenile great whites that congregate in waters off Manhattan Beach during "Sharing the Waves With Sharks of the South Bay." The free public educational talk will be held in the Joslyn Community Center, 1601 Valley Drive, a short distance from City Hall.

The shark bite incident has ignited heated debate about how fishermen behave when fishing on the pier, particularly if they're angling to hook a great white for the thrill of the ensuing struggle as they grapple to bring it to the pier. Purposely fishing for whites is illegal and fishermen are supposed to cut the line once they know it's a great white they've hooked. 

Given the large number of juvenile great whites making Santa Monica Bay their home and staying relatively close to shore as they hunt for fish (juveniles do not have the same teeth as adults, whose teeth are designed to cut through the blubber of marine mammals), many say the Manhattan Beach Pier has become a place fishermen go to try to catch a white.

Swimmers and surfers have complained about being hooked by fishermen or becoming tangled in their lines.

Manhattan Beach resident and swimmer Jean Bolling, who has seen a friend hooked and became tangled in fishing line around her arm as she completed a pier to pier race two years ago, told DigMB, "I think fishermen should be able to fish. But I'm also pretty happy to know that they're not fishing right now during the summer."

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