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New rules proposed by FWC for Skyway Fishing Pier amid seabird deaths

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said they are trying to minimize the number of seabirds entangled in fishing gear.

PINELLAS COUNTY, Fla. — Florida wildlife officials proposed new rules for people who fish at the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park.

During a virtual meeting Wednesday night, The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission said their goal is to keep pelicans safe by minimizing injuries and deaths from fishing gear.

FWC showed data that illustrated in January 2022, over 600 seabirds had to be rescued from entanglement. To reduce that, FWC is proposing new rules for fishermen.

The proposed rules include banning fishing gear, and one rule would also ban sabiki rigs and treble hooks from November to March. Another rule would ban sabiki rigs year-round along the portion of the South pier.

Officials also proposed limiting fishermen to two poles. 

Also, a proposed rule would determine how long fishermen can use the pier with sunset regulations. There would also be mandatory education for those who choose to fish on the pier. 

These rules would be enforced by FWC officers. 

Some fishermen on the virtual call argued pelicans are a problem because of rescuers feeding them. Those who were with fishing groups insisted banning gear isn’t the answer.

Rescue groups called the pier “death row” for pelicans.

Some fishermen on the pier explained why they see pelicans dying all the time.

"I never hate anyone in my life, but I hate the people that torture those birds," one fisherman said.

If you want to share your opinion with FWC, you can email marine@myfwc.com or submit your comments online. There will be another meeting in February. 

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