Update from the Sun-Sentinel:
After a flurry of interest from anglers, the Boca Raton City Council postponed a decision on a proposed ban on shark fishing from city beaches.
The council opted to send the measure to the Marine Advisory Board for review before hearing comment from the public.
The city received about 10 e-mails Tuesday from concerned anglers opposing the measure, said Mike Woika, assistant city manager.
The Marine Advisory Board is scheduled to meet 7 p.m. Feb. 2 at the Municipal Services Complex at 2500 NW First Ave.
The earliest the measure could return to the council for a vote is Feb. 8.
Original Story From The Sun-Sentinel:
Both swimmers and sharks could be safer in Boca Raton if the City Council decides Tuesday to ban shark fishing from the city's beaches.
Several residents requested a shark fishing ban in Boca Raton because they were concerned about the safety of swimmers and surfers, said assistant city manager Mike Woika.
"The main concern here is safety," he said. "It's just trying to protect the recreational uses of the beach."
Sharks typically avoid people whether or not anglers are present, said Lee Schlesinger, a spokesman for the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
"People have been fishing off of beaches in Florida as long as they've been swimming off of them, and the amount of issues with sharks is miniscule," he said.
The proposed ordinance would ban chumming and using shark lures, hooks or rigs within 100 feet of the shoreline, and it would require that sharks caught accidentally be cut loose.
Under the ordinance, police or park rangers would cite shark anglers, and county courts could impose fines of as much as $500 to those found guilty of violating the ban, Woika said.
But, municipal shark fishing bans also could face legal challenges, Schlesinger said.
"Under the Florida constitution, only the FWC has the authority to manage fish and wildlife," he said. "Local governments can do what they like for safety reasons, but there is some question about whether it would hold up if someone challenged it."
Florida already has stringent shark fishing guidelines, including a one-bag limit, size restrictions and species-specific fishing bans, he said.
The FWC also plans to seek public input throughout the state on shark fishing issues including chumming later this year, Schlesinger said.
Ordinances like the one proposed in Boca Raton are squeezing shark fishermen out of beach communities, said William Fundora, president of the South Florida Shark Club.
"These rules are really antiquated, and they really don't look at the science," he said. "Sharks follow migratory schools of fish up and down the shore, and we just catch what's already there."
Land-based anglers are banding together to oppose the bans, one of which is in Delray Beach, Fundora said.
Boca Raton's ordinance would still allow anglers to fish for sharks 100 feet away from the shore, Woika said.
"Laws like these put us at a complete disadvantage," Fundora said. "We're not guys who can afford to buy big boats and go to the Bahamas, we're just regular local people who love to fish."
Rebekah Monson can be reached at rsmonson@SunSentinel.com or 561-243-6624.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.