People who enjoy fishing from the Naples Pier gathered for a peaceful protest on Sunday against the extension of a fishing ban.
The anglers are concerned that soon, people won’t be allowed to fish from the pier at all and are asking city leaders to test out another day they can ban fishing.
This comes after Naples City Council decided to renew their pilot program banning fishing off the pier on Sundays for another year.
The organizer of the protest, Luciano Bianco said, “why not use Wednesday as the day for this pilot program instead of Sunday?”
Other rules they put in place are no fishing from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., limits on the size of the hook, and the number of poles fisherman can bring.
Bianco said, “we’re gonna take it away for another year. And then here’s what’s gonna happen. It’s gonna be another year Sunday, Saturday can’t fish all weekend, it was gonna be Friday. Before you know it, there’s gonna be a sunset pier. It’s not gonna be the Naples fishing pier anymore.”
Agreeing with Bianco, Camille Linares moved to Naples specifically because she fell in love with the pier.
“It’s such a serene relaxing place to be and my understanding is that this pier was donated for fishing,” Linares said.
Linares dislikes the pilot program and hopes city leaders change their minds. Linares said, “I just really hope that they really consider listening to the locals and the people who actually utilize the pier on a consistent basis before they make their own decision.”
The City of Naples put this ban in place to protect pelicans from getting caught on hooks and is extending it after data from the Conservancy of Southwest Florida showed promising results.
Those who fish from the pier fear the city doesn’t understand the impact on the people and hope their protest will change their minds.
“If our city’s putting the pelicans above us, citizens, here trying to fish, it’s not okay. I don’t find it right at all,” Bianco said.
However, not everyone believes the ban is bad.
“I think it’s a step in the right direction trying to find a balance but also prevent injuries to wildlife,” said Joanna Fitzgerald, hospital director at Von Arx Wildlife Hospital.
Naples police department was aware of the peaceful protest and was monitoring the area.
Bianco shared an idea he thinks would both protect the pelicans and allow the anglers to fish regularly. He said, “if we can educate the people on how to take care of these birds, how to dodge the birds, maybe cast underhand, we can all together work. The city, the Conservancy and the fishermen, we can all work together to protect the birds.”