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Fishing ban continues at Manhattan Beach due to shark attack

Steve Robles is being carried away by EMT, following a great white shark attack at Manhattan Beach.
Steve Robles is being carried away by EMT, following a great white shark attack at Manhattan Beach.

Until city officials are able to devise a solid plan to reduce the risk of another shark attack, anglers will not be able to engage in any pier-fishing activities at Manhattan Beach. In a unanimous vote on Tuesday, the Manhattan Beach City Council urged its staff to start developing guidelines to update its current municipal codes. The temporary ban on the recreational sport is expected to extend through September.

The barring of pier fishing is in response to a unique incident involving an adult swimmer that was bitten at Manhattan Beach by a great white shark over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. City authorities have been looking into whether a fisherman's choice of bait may have lured the shark closer to shore. Experts believe the juvenile predator attacked the male swimmer because it may have become agitated, as it took nearly one hour to cut the struggling animal free from the line.

California law dictates that if a shark is ever hooked, the line must be severed immediately. Under California’s Endangered Species Act, the world's largest predatory fish may not be hunted, pursued or killed. Anyone who is caught harming the animal anywhere off the Golden State's coast could face criminal prosecution. The issue of whether the ban becomes a permanent one falls under the jurisdiction of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Although some anglers want to protect their right to fish at Manhattan Beach, proponents of the fishing ban believe that pier fishing promotes a needless risk to those that play, swim, snorkel and surf at the popular recreational spot.

Meanwhile, state officials told the Los Angeles Times they don’t think the fisherman involved in the Fourth of July incident hooked the great white shark intentionally and they don’t plan to cite the angler. State authorities also revealed to the news organization that they have “significant concerns” about Manhattan Beach’s standing ban on pier fishing.

Council members are scheduled to discuss the matter further when they meet on August 12.