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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Sharks still biting in Anna Maria

Sharks 1, Islanders 0.

Proposed discussion by the Anna Maria City Commission of a possible ban on shark fishing within the city didn't get a bite at the commission's Jan. 8 workshop.

Local fishermen were prepared to throw hook, line and sinker against such a ban, but City Attorney Jim Dye wasn't taking the bait.

In a Dec. 29 letter to the commission and Mayor SueLynn, Dye scored the lone goal for the sharks when he pointed out that the State of Florida retains the power to regulate and control saltwater fishing. A municipality can ban fishing for health or safety reasons from any property it owns, but not from state or private property.

"Since we don't own the beaches," said Commissioner Duke Miller at the Jan. 8 meeting, "I move to drop discussion of the item from the agenda."

End of story.

The issue was brought to the commission by Miller after a family vacationing in Anna Maria found a shark carcass on the beach near Spruce Street and complained to the city about the mess and that they were unaware that sharks were in nearby waters.

Following that complaint, a number of fishermen came forward to say they've been fishing from Anna Maria's beaches for sharks for several years and no one's ever complained before.

Local fisherman Andy Haynes said the sharks have been around Anna Maria Island a lot longer than people. The city could ban people from fishing for sharks from the beach, but it couldn't ban sharks from swimming along the beach, he said.