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Boca Raton considering reopening boat ramps for commercial fishermen

"Not being able to make it out one day could make or break you at the end of the year."
Posted at 10:36 PM, Apr 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-15 10:08:41-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — Boca Raton's boat launch is shut down, closed for both recreation and commercial fishing. But at Tuesday night's city council meeting some questioned if it needs to be that way.

During the meeting, the city council talked about the possibility of opening its boat ramp to commercial fisherman. That's the case currently at Palm Beach County boat launches.

"There's a couple of things at play here. Since the coronavirus shut things down there's been an enormous surge in applications for you guessed it, commercial fisherman. Suddenly, everyone is a commercial fisherman now," Council Member Andy Thomson said. "There's now been a sudden influx of additional 400 commercial fisherman licenses in the county with around 40 or so in the city," he said.

Thomson said he would like to see the ramp opened for people who operated as commercial fishermen before the pandemic or those who have a documented history of commercial fishing.

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Andrew Beekman is a commercial fisherman. He said things have gotten tough for those who make their living on the water.

"Not being able to make it out one day could make or break you at the end of the year," he said.

Andrew said he's having to run up and down the coast to use different ramps since the closure of the boat ramp.

"It's a lot of extra work going back and forth, wear and tear on things that shouldn't have wear and tear as much as they are on the boat," he added.

One possibility is an approach similar to Martin County's, where only people with special marine licenses have access.

Thomson said the council has instructed city staff to figure out how to get the boat ramp open. Meaning, they want to know how they can tell between legit fishermen and the fakers.

Council's next meeting is Tuesday.