Manhattan Beach extends fishing ban after shark attack

ByAmy Powell and staff KABC logo
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Manhattan Beach extends fishing ban
The Manhattan Beach City Council has extended its ban on fishing off the pier until the middle of September.

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif. -- The Manhattan Beach City Council has extended its ban on fishing off the pier until the middle of September.

Officials say they will be working with state agencies to come with new regulations in hope of easing the danger.

This comes after a swimmer, 50-year-old Steven Robles, was bitten in the chest by a juvenile great white shark that had been hooked by a fishing line on July 5. Robles says his scars are starting to heal.

"I'm still sore right in my torso and I have numbness in my thumb," he said Tuesday at a city council meeting, where one of the men who helped saved his life was honored.

The shark was hooked by a fisherman and attacked Robles while it was struggling to break free of his line. Robles told the city council that the fisherman should be held accountable for the attack.

"His lack of regard for my life and how him and his friends were laughing and thinking this was funny, that's just absolutely appalling," Robles said.

The council imposed a temporary ban on pier fishing in the wake of the attack but does not have the authority to impose a permanent ban. The pier is overseen by the state Department of Fish and Wildlife and other agencies. The city council says it hopes to put regulations in place that will prevent fishermen from chumming the water and limit fishing line strength.

Animal rights group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, took to the skies earlier Tuesday to support the ban.

A plane towing a banner that read "Keep hookers off the pier! Ban fishing" flew over Manhattan Beach and other beach communities. PETA says bait put in the water by fishermen brings sharks closer to shore than normal.

"The blood from the fish who've been caught can draw those sharks in and it's very difficult for a swimmer or surfer who's out in the water near the pier to see where those fishing lines are," said Alicia Woempner with PETA. "Fishing from piers puts all of us in danger. It endangers beachgoers, it endangers sharks, other wildlife."

But fishermen say a ban is not a fair solution.

"People can't just walk on the sand and throw out a line, they can't throw it out in their backyard, there's no water there, so this is a very precious location," said fisherman Joe Imbriano.

Imbriano believes there's a better way to keep everyone safe.

"The solution is to create a no swimming, no surfing zone around the pier like all these other cities up and down the coast have," he said.

A shark expert told the city council there are ways to ease the danger without banning all fishing.

"It's just a matter of people learning to share, in addition, because the shark population seems to be increasing, we have to share it with them too," said Dr. Chris Lowe, a shark expert.