New fishing rules and restrictions are being imposed at Skyway Fishing Pier State Park.
The Skyway Pier is adjacent to the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This four-mile-long pier operates 24 hours each day, 365 days a year.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) approved new rules for fishing at the Skyway after hearing concerns from bird rescue groups and conservationists.
These groups voiced worries over the number of injured and killed pelicans, seagulls, and other birds caught in fishing lines, hooks, and lures at the park.
New Rules to Expect
From Nov. 15 to March 15, FWC will prohibit the use of fishing rigs and lures with more than one hook. Those include sabiki and chicken rigs, topwater plugs, and treble hooks.
Anglers cannot use more than “two sets of hook-and-line fishing gear” and rods while fishing, according to the new rule.
Starting Oct. 1, visitors who plan to fish must have proof they completed the annual safety and state rule education requirements. FWC approved the changes at its July meeting.
The FWC will test the new rules and revisit them after two years.
Hoping For Balance
Pelican and seabird entanglements at the bridge and pier resulted in tension. These rules should help resolve issues between conservation and bird rescue groups and those fishing at the pier.
Some fishermen expressed concern about pushing the park to close, or cutting hours at the pier.
FWCC Chairman Rodney Barreto said the new rules will balance everyone’s interests, while also protecting pelicans and other birds getting caught in lines and lures.
“This is a great beginning to resolve this issue for both anglers and bird conservationists,” said Barreto. “We look forward to hearing an update from staff on the effectiveness of this rule at Skyway Fishing Pier State Park.”