Following the July 5 attack on a swimmer by a great white shark that had been hooked on a Manhattan Beach Pier angler's line for as many as 40 minutes, many folks called for limits on this kind of fishing.
The city of Manhattan Beach appeared to agree. It temporarily banned all fishing from its pier and is now considering local regulations—line types, hook sizes and fishing “in a manner that is dangerous to persons using the beach or the water”—that could push shark anglers off that structure permanently.
This week the state of California said not so fast:
The president of the state Fish and Game Commission, Michael Sutton, sent a letter to the Manhattan Beach City Council ahead of its meeting tonight, which will put those new fishing regulations on the table. He asked the city to lift its fishing ban “immediately” and table any talk of limiting anglers.
Sutton noted that the pier is run by the city but owned by the state Department of Parks and Recreation. More importantly, he said, …
… since 1902 the regulation of fishing activity and gear types has been exclusively reserved to the
state. The legislature and the courts have long recognized our Commission’s sole authority to
regulate fishing activity, including from public access piers and beaches.
Sounds threatening. The California Sportfishing League, which is against any such restrictions on the pier, has been telling the Manhattan Beach City Council that it does not have the authority to regulate angling.
The state's concern is that any fishing bans or restrictions would “disproportionately impact the disabled, subsistence fishers, and minorities,” Sutton wrote.
He said any action by the council to restrict fishing should be postponed so that the city and state officials could discuss whether the locals even have the “authority” to do this.
If pulling great white sharks on fishing lines toward swimmers and surfers remains legal, then this sounds like a problem for the state legislature to tackle.
The victim in the July attack was bitten in his upper torso but survived. The angler was not arrested or charged with any wrongdoing.