Santa Monica Bay Pier Summit

On May 7, 2015, I attended (as President of United Pier and Shore Anglers of California) the Santa Monica Bay Pier Stakeholder Summit together with our Los Angeles Regional Coordinator Hashem Nahid. To say that the meeting was interesting is an understatement.

The stated goals were to discuss human-wildlife conflicts, pier/ocean user conflicts, possible solutions, and pier management strategies. The meeting was hosted by Heal the Bay and the California Fish & Game Commission.

The “Summit” was prompted by the “illegal” actions of the Manhattan Beach City Council in 2014. The council closed the Manhattan Beach Pier (state owned but managed by the city) to fishing for a 60-day period starting in July 2014. It then, in mid-August, adopted new, local, fishing regulations that differ substantially from the statewide fishing regulations established by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

• M.B.M.C. Sections regarding Fishing On The Pier

2.40.090 — Pier Fishing

It shall be unlawful for any person to:

(A) Fish with more than one (1) fishing line or cast out more than one (1) fishing line at the same time on or from any part of the pier, whether such line is attached to a fishing rod or not.

(B) Cast a line by swinging said line above the iron railing on the pier or by swinging or casting said line overhead from a pole or from the hand. Casting must be from below the level of the railing of the pier (overhead casting).

(C) Place, throw, or cast from the pier any fish or parts thereof (“chum”) or other debris into the water.

(D) Cast any line other than a monofilament line from the pier. A maximum forty (40) pound test line weight is allowed.

(E) Cast any steel, metal, or braided leader line from the pier.

(F) Cast with any hooks larger than a 4/0 or three inches (3”) in length by two inches (2”) in width from the pier.

(G) Fish from the pier using more than two (2) hooks on a single line.

(H) Clean or gut fish or other marine life on the pier.

(I) Fish from the pier with any fishing tackle, line, hook or other equipment in a manner that is dangerous to persons using the beach, the pier, or the water. Any person fishing from the pier shall comply with any directions given by the City’s code enforcement officers or police officers as may be necessary to safeguard lives, persons and property near or in the vicinity of any person fishing.

The rule changes followed an incident at the pier where a great white shark was hooked by an angler on the pier and then bit a swimmer. The city’s actions in closing the pier to fishing and imposing new regulations were done unilaterally and against the express instructions of both the California Coastal Commission and the California Fish and Game Commission.

Attendees at the conference included representatives from the California Fish & Game Commission, Heal the Bay, United Pier and Shore Anglers of California (UPSAC), The Sportfishing Conservancy, California Sportfishing League, Wrigley Institute for Environmental Studies, Surfrider Foundation, and representatives from the local Santa Monica piers—Redondo Beach, Hermosa Beach, Manhattan Beach, Venice, Santa Monica and Malibu.

Two presentations were given. The first discussed the recent Shark Ambassador Program, a survey of pier users and their catch done by Heal the Bay. The second was a presentation on Sharks of Santa Monica Bay by Dr. Chris Lowe of Long Beach State. Both were interesting although UPSAC had several criticisms regarding the Heal the Bay survey results.

The majority of the meeting concerned what had happened at Manhattan Beach, if there actually was a problem, and possible solutions to the existing conflict between the city and state. It was made clear that only the Fish and Game Commission can establish fishing regulations but it was also clear that a workable solution that avoids taking the case to court is preferable.

After considerable talk, considerable disagreement, and some agreement, it was concluded that further meetings will be needed and all participants agreed to meet again during the next few months. Hopefully by mid-summer 2015 a consensus can be reached on the best practices (and regulations) needed to meet the needs of the various groups sharing the ocean waters.

For a related article see the following —

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