Florida wildlife officials considering new rules to protect seabirds at Skyway Fishing Pier

Between line entanglements and fishhooks, the Skyway Fishing Pier is the epicenter where many brown pelicans have died.

Previous bouts of red tide wiped out much of the food source causing them to flock to the pier for food, but because of its configuration, it can be dangerous to rescue them if they get tangled.

Now, Florida Fish and Wildlife officials are proposing new fishing rules that could end up having a major impact on seabirds -- more specifically the brown pelican population that uses this area to hunt for fish.

The goal is to reduce the number of birds that get tangled in fishing lines on the Skyway Pier.

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Monday at 6 p.m., FWC will host a virtual workshop to gather public input on potential new fishing regulations for Skyway Fishing Pier in order to address seabird entanglement and injury.

The pier is especially problematic because of its proximity to nesting areas.

"They're leaving the nests. They're learning what to do. They're inexperienced, and if the numbers we've been getting continues, we're literally decimating the brown pelican population in the Tampa Bay area," said Kim Begay of Friends of the Pelicans.

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The potential changes the FWC is considering on the Skyway Pier include:

  • Prohibiting gear with more than one hook, such as Sabiki rigs
  • Prohibiting multiple hooks, such as Treble hooks
  • Limiting anglers to three sets of hook and line gear per person.

Environmental groups note that there are a number of causes contributing to seabird deaths in our area, but the biggest factor is fishing line entanglement.

A link to join the FWC workshop will be shared ahead of the meeting on the agency's website: myfwc.com/fishing/saltwater/rulemaking/workshops.