FL Pier & boat anglers facing off in turf battle


Mar 11, 2001
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Fish Fights, Fish Rights

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Editorial Board.

Posted November 29 2001

What's been going on at Palm Beach County's two fishing piers, in Lake Worth and Juno Beach, is downright childish. It also could get someone killed. State action is urgently needed.

The story in a nutshell is that fishermen in boats have been coming too close to the piers, from which other fishermen cast their lines. They do so to scoop up the bait fish that congregate near the piers, thus saving the money they might otherwise have to pay a bait shop before heading out to deeper waters. But in so doing, the boat fishermen are scaring away the pier fishermen's fish. Not only that, they're snagging the lines hanging over the side of the pier. That's not fair to the fishermen above.

In turn, the pier fishermen have overreacted. They've been throwing things at the boaters, and even trying to hook their vessels with their fishing lines. That's not fair to the fishermen below. It's also dangerous.

So, boat fishermen and pier fishermen -- you're both wrong.

First of all, the law is very explicit about this kind of thing. It says boaters may not come within 500 feet of the piers. If they do, they face a $50 fine.

The pier fishermen have good reason to be upset with what the boat fishermen have been doing. After all, they pay to fish off the pier -- not to have their lines snagged and the fish scared away. But what exactly are they thinking? They could kill somebody by throwing things at the boaters and trying to hook their vessels. If they keep that up, they could land in jail, and they'd deserve it.

The boat fishermen evidently think the money they save on bait is worth the risk of a puny $50 fine. Obviously it's an insufficient deterrent. Pier fishermen and others should get behind the effort of the Palm Beach County legislative delegation, during the 2002 session, to draft and pass a local bill that would raise the fine to $250. The boaters would have to scoop up an awful lot of bait to make that fine worth risking.

That should solve the problem, but in the meantime, both groups of fishermen should try acting more grown-up. It just might make a day on the water safer and more pleasant for all of them.

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