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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Spruce up the sharks

Fishing for snook out of season is illegal anywhere in Florida, including Anna Maria, but apparently fishing for sharks anywhere along the beach in Anna Maria and at any time is OK.

Mayor SueLynn said in the past week she's had complaints from two residents near the Spruce Street beach access that people have been fishing for sharks from the beach.

According to the mayor, the reports indicate the shark fishermen have been using "chum" to attract the sharks to the area.

If the shark fishing and chum reports are true, she said, "It's alarming that they would do so since people swim in that area. Attracting sharks with chum where people swim is reckless endangerment as far as I'm concerned."

The mayor said the fishermen have been leaving the heads and tails of the sharks caught on the beach, creating a "stinking nuisance."

But there's little the city can do at this point to halt shark fishing along the beach.

There are no city, county or state laws against fishing for sharks in areas where people swim, the mayor said, and no special license is required.

Maybe it's time to change all that.

The mayor said she's asking the commission to discuss a resolution or ordinance prohibiting or limiting areas where shark fishing should be allowed.

"I think there's a public safety issue involved here and it's something the commission should discuss," SueLynn added.

During the summer of 2001, a swimmer off Coquina Beach was bitten by a shark, but there were no reports of shark fishing in that area at the time.

The swimmer was not seriously injured.