Changes could be coming to Naples Pier. The City of Naples wants to limit when people can fish in hopes that that will save aquatic life. City leaders want to protect pelicans and other birds that continue to get caught in fishing equipment.
The city thinks these new rules will do just that. But fishermen and bait shop owners are against it.
If you like to fish in Naples, one place often comes to mind. Paul Bauman likes to fish at Naples Pier. “I love fishing on the pier. Naples Pier, every day I come,” said Bauman.
Captain Bill Bowser is the owner of Captain Bill’s Bait and Tackle shop. “The pier is one of the few places you can go without a license,” Captain Bowser said. “In season, I can see as many as 15-20 people that are going to fish [at] the pier.”
Some of the proposed rules by the city could change that number. Larry Storniolo likes to fish at the pier as well. “I don’t agree with it but they make the laws,” Storniolo said.
Naples Mayor Teresa Heitmann says the City of Naples is debating the regulations because pelicans and other birds are getting caught in hooks. “The City of Naples is listed as a bird sanctuary so, it is our duty to protect those birds and not yet take away the fishing opportunities on the pier,” said Mayor Heitmann.
Bowser, who owns the tackle shop, says he has a different solution to this problem. “Debarb hooks, that will help with the bird’s situation a lot. It will be easier to remove a hook from a bird at the pier. It’s very simple to do, opposed to closing,” said Captain Bowser.
Mayor Heitmann did have a response to that. “The council, back in 2007, banned treble hooks at the Naples Pier. Unfortunately, unless you can catch them we haven’t been able to do the enforcement that’s needed,” said Mayor Heitmann.
She says the city has to decide whether or not it will complement certain regulations as part of the pilot program soon. One of the proposed regulations looks into limited hours of fishing from the Pier on Wednesdays.