The Anna Maria Island Sun Newspaper

Vol. 14 No. 29 - May 14, 2014


Law needed to help pelicans, turtles

Anna Maria Island Sun News Story


This pelican washed onto Bradenton Beach last
week with a hook and line entangling its beak and wings.

HOLMES BEACH – After a year of trying to educate fishermen not to cut fishing lines that entangle pelicans and other wildlife, Jeannie Bystrom wants Island officials to emulate Naples and pass ordinances prohibiting certain fishing gear.

Over the past year, she and her friends and veterinarian husband have saved more than 100 pelicans with wings hooked to their feet, fishing line tethering them to mangroves in Bimini Bay, and worse, mostly due to sabiki rigs with multiple hooks and fishing lures with treble hooks, she said.

“The law we have to have is no multiple hooks,” said Bystrom, whose Don’t Cut the Line public education campaign is published in The Sun. “I’m going to bring it up in Holmes Beach and hope we can get Anna Maria and Bradenton Beach to follow suit."

To support Bystrom’s efforts, Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore recently alerted the state legislative delegation to the problem and said she plans to meet with them before next year’s Legislative session to form proposed legislation.

Hooked pelicans are frequent guests at Wildlife Education and Rehabilitation Inc. in Bradenton Beach, whose facebook page documents a Key Royale rescue last week of two pelicans tied together with fishing line, the live bird trailing the dead bird. A Wildlife Inc. volunteer also saved a pelican on Bradenton Beach last week that washed up on the beach entangled and unable to fly.

Fishing line is not just a pelican problem; it also entangles sea turtles and other species, Mote Marine Laboratory spokesman Nadine Slimak said.

Between 2000 and 2010, more than 20 percent of the 633 sea turtles recovered by Mote’s Stranding Investigations Program showed signs of being affected by a human interaction. Of those, 72 percent were boat-related and 22 percent, or 29 sea turtles, were fishing gear-related, with the rest involving ingestion of balloons or marine trash and impacts with cars, she said.

Anna Maria Island Turtle Watch and Shorebird Monitoring volunteers will soon begin keeping data on wildlife impacted by fishing lines with their regular sea turtle and shorebird data, Director Suzi Fox said last week.

Naples law passed for pelicans, people

The Naples City Council passed an ordinance two months ago restricting the use of fishing equipment on the city-owned pier to a single hook on a single shank to protect pelicans and people, said Roger Jacobson, harbormaster and code enforcement manager for the city of Naples.

The Conservancy of Southwest Florida, a 50-year-old grassroots environmental group in Naples that pushed for the ordinance, spent $100,000 on pelican surgeries last year, he said, adding that people also are sometimes injured by fishermen casting with multiple hooks.

The ordinance is not intended to generate citations, but to educate the public, he said.

The city is flush with funds from beach parking fees, which pay for a fulltime, seven day a week pelican patrol on the pier to educate fishermen and rescue hooked pelicans. Parking fees also pay for a fulltime beach patrol to cruise the beaches on an ATV looking for safety and environmental violations, such as fishing without a permit, Jacobson said.

“We have excess revenue from the parking fund every year,” he said, adding that residents get free parking passes.

After some initial resistance from fishermen, the tackle issue died down quickly, he said, adding that it’s too early to tell if the law is saving pelicans.

If you hook a pelican, slowly and carefully reel it in and cover the bird with a towel, avoiding the tip of its beak, and remove the hook, or call Wildlife Inc. at 941-778-6324.

AMISUN ~ The Island's Award-Winning Newspaper