Manhattan Beach City Council Lifts Pier Fishing Moratorium, Approves New Regulations

The Manhattan Beach City Council lifted a temporary ban on pier fishing Tuesday that was enacted in the wake of a July shark attack, while also approving additional rules on pier fishing methods. The city council’s decision follows warnings from state regulators who have said the city does not have the authority to engage in fishing regulations.

On July 5, swimmer Steve Robles was bitten by a juvenile great white which had been caught on a fisher’s line. The city council soon imposed a moratorium on the practice and extended it for a period of 60 days. The council was even considering a permanent ban, which was slated for discussion Tuesday. But that consideration changed, as state agency warnings rolled in.

“Since 1902, the Fish and Game Commission has had exclusive authority to regulate fishing activity, gear and methods,” said Sonke Mastrup, executive director of the California Fish and Game Commission.

The California Coastal Commission also said the ban was illegal, calling the July attack “an isolated incident.”

Despite the warnings, the council also moved to impose new rules on pier fishing Tuesday. These include a ban on chumming (tossing fish parts into the water to attract sharks), as well as the use of extra large hooks; any fishing lines besides monofilament lines tested up to 40 pounds; and steel, metal, or braided leader lines. These regulations, the council argued, are vital to protect the health and safety of swimmers. 

“We can not impose our own regulations that affect the manner and method of fishing, according to state law,” City Attorney Quinn Barrow said. “But with respect to these regulations, if they’re designed to protect health and safety, that’s acceptable.”

Sports fishing advocates say the rules still constitute a de facto ban on the practice.

The pier fishing moratorium will end by September. Nearby cities that have been bombarded with pier fisherman since the ban was imposed are hoping it will provide some relief.

Read more about Tuesday’s vote here