SARASOTA, Fla. -- Venice Beach in Sarasota County is known as the shark tooth capital of the world so it's no surprise that you can catch a shark, a very large shark off the Venice Pier. But the city mayor wants to limit fishing especially shark fishing off the pier by passing a strict pier ordinance.
“I like fishing here never know what you’ll catch…throw out a rod like this catch 4 to5 foot shark without trying,” said Todd Vandergaag. He’s caught a few sharks off of this pier.
The 20-year-old says he helped rope and release an 8-and-a-half foot bull shark caught two years ago off the Venice Pier. Todd said, “I love this pier, it’s part of me.”
But city mayor John Holic wants to limit access to the 700-foot long pier, especially to shark fishing. Holic said, “They were drawing sharks into the swimming area by chumming or blood baiting."
“Whenever you have 100 fishing poles on the pier, that’s chum,” said avid fisherman Malvin Larsen, He says shark fishing isn’t the problem.
“The problem isn’t the fishing but the people doing the fishing. A lot of people swear sometimes have no respect for others that’s the problem,” said Larsen.
The city council voted to create a pier committee of fisherman to come up with recommendations for a new ordinance…and the city will have suggestions too…like a two fishing rod limit.
The mayor says the city may even charge an admission fee to get on the pier. Anyone who is a non-Venice resident would have to pay to get beyond the bait shop.”
“It’s a maintenance fee for wear and tear to the pier,” Holic explained.
“I would pay to come out on the pier. I like it here,” says Larsen, he drives up from Fort Myers once a week.
“I think it’s unfair for locals,” says Vandergaag. He lives in Osprey just north of Venice and fishes off the pier nearly every day.
“We’re not trying to make trouble we’ll comply but we need some leeway,” said Vandergaag. “Shark fishing is pretty much a way of life for us down here.”
The city council and pier committee will meet again on December 12 to discuss recommendations.
After Hurricane Irma the city had to make extensive repairs to the pier and realized a new one is needed.
In March, the pier will be torn down, rebuilt and reopened in mid to late summer. The mayor hopes to have a new pier ordinance in place by then.