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Tuesday, 28 July 2015 13:51

SHARK! City of Bonita Looks to Prohibit Chumming

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Head of a bull shark Head of a bull shark

The city of Bonita Springs is considering asking the Florida Game and Freshwater Fish Commission to ban chumming within 1,000 feet of residential areas.

The move comes after a spate of sightings in Hickory Pass very near the docks and decks of condo residents on the northern end of Little Hickory Island, including by one man who posted video of what he said was an 8 to 9-foot bull shark swimming inches off his seawall and dock.

City council members were getting emails every day from frightened and concerned residents.

“In the estuary there are lots of little fish,” said city attorney Audrey Vance. That means bigger fish.”

And that means sharks.

“I have fished up there,” said Captain Chris DeWitt of BigSharkFishing.com. “They’re there no matter what.”

DeWitt, who’s spent almost 20 years fishing local waters for sharks and other big game fish, said it’s not the chumming that brings the sharks to the pass.

“They’re already there,” he said.

State law does not allow local jurisdictions to adopt their own fishing regulations off land they don’t own, with that authority resting solely with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. The city is considering a letter to the FWC urging the commission to ban chumming, the practice of baiting the water with blood, oil and fish parts, within 1,000 feet of residential property.

Vance said rather than ask the FWC to allow the city to regulate fishing, a prospect she deemed unlikely, the city might fare better by asking for a statewide rule.

DeWitt said he understands rules that already prohibit chumming near swimming beaches, which many jurisdictions already do. But in a busy fishing area where condos happen to crowd the edge of the pass?

“That’s a tough one,” he said. “I agree with not chumming where people are swimming,” he said. “Other than that whether it’s a residential area or not the sharks are there.”

The city council will discuss the issue at its August 5 meeting.

Read 1955 times Last modified on Sunday, 31 January 2016 11:31

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