Public reacted harshly to proposed fishing ban on Riverwalk. The city council is about to vote

A proposal to ban fishing and cast netting on Riverwalk hasn’t gone over very well with the general public and city officials may look to compromise.

The ban is being brought forward by the city’s public works department, which is responsible for Riverwalk maintenance. Jim McLellan, public works director, said last month when bringing the proposal forward that anglers — and cast netters, in particular — are making a mess of things along the walkway.

The proposed ban is designed to encourage both anglers and cast netters to use the Riverwalk fishing pier as it was intended.

The first reading of the new ordinance comes forward on Wednesday and is expected to be moved forward to a second public hearing on Feb. 27, at which time a decision will be made.

The proposed ordinance details why some officials believe it is needed.

“Individuals attempting to fish in the Manatee River from the walkway along the seawall ... have been creating disturbances, littering, leaving dead fish, seaweed and other debris.”

Also, “Individuals fishing cast lures and hooks while pedestrians, bicyclists and other persons are on the Riverwalk immediately behind the individuals fishing (are) creating a hazard.”

Violators of the ordinance could face fines and/or be found to be trespassing on the Riverwalk.

Fishing ban compromise file photo 1.JPG
Bradenton looks to ban fishing along Riverwalk with the exception of the fishing pier. The ban is designed to encourage the use of the pier instead of fishing from the walkway, but hasn’t gone over well with the public. City officials may be looking for a compromise before a final Feb. 27 vote. File photo by Tiffany Tompkins Bradenton Herald

The proposal was met with a flurry of social media opposition, which mirrored those interviewed by the Bradenton Herald last month on Riverwalk. “Ridiculous,” was the most common term used to describe the city’s proposal. Many said slowing down bicyclists and addressing the homeless on Riverwalk are more important matters.

Ahead of Wednesday’s first reading, at least two council members are saying more conversation is needed. Ward 3 Councilman Patrick Roff is unable to attend on Wednesday, but said he will have additional input before the Feb. 27 vote. Ward 1 Councilman Gene Gallo is already making his stance clear.

“I won’t support this as it is,” Gallo said. “I’m not going to stop some dad and his kid from fishing in that river.”

Gallo said he would be willing to compromise with eliminating cast netting from the walkway, but won’t support banning rod fishing.

Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.
Support my work with a digital subscription