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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pier Fishing And Concerns Of An Open Water Swimmer

Photo by Photo by Laura Joyce of Goofy Foot Photography.com/AP. Content courtesy of Bob Placak, Tiburon, California.

The following was a written request from Bob Placak to the Manhattan Beach City Council in light of the recent shark encounter by Steven Robles in Manhattan Beach, California.

As an avid open water swimmer for the past 30 years, founder of the internationally recognized RCP Tiburon Mile Open Water Swim Race for the last 15 years, and a long-time competitor in the Dwight Crum Pier-to-Pier Swim, I feel compelled to voice my concern regarding the safety of swimmers in Manhattan Beach especially following the recent Great White Shark incident.

For years I have expressed my concerns regarding the safety of swimmers in open water swim races who must navigate pier fishing areas with dangerous lines and hooks. Fellow competitors have injured themselves getting caught on hooks and as the recent shark tragedy reveals, it is dangerous for any living thing to be in waters interspersed with sharp hooks and easily tangled lines, not to mention the chum thrown into waters that attract carnivorous sea creatures not usually found in shallow waters.

I propose a change in the permit process for fishing on the day of an event like the Pier-to-Pier Swim, or any other organized water sport or activity. The potential injury or death that may occur as a result of these dangerous hazards necessitates a fundamental change in how fishing off the piers is regulated. Limiting the time or restricting the area allowed for fishing is an easy and inexpensive solution to a possible deadly and costly disaster.

I understand a 60 day ban on pier fishing has been put into place following the latest incident and I hope the State Coastal Commission can accurately evaluate the dangerous impact of pier fishing on public safety. As the issue goes to city council, I would again reiterate my personal concern as a regular swimmer in the area and a friend of many locals who frequent the beach and have long struggled with the dangers of hooks and lines and the added danger of chum attracting sharks to shallow waters. Please consider the safety of swimmers and surfers in your decision regarding the regulation of off-pier fishing.

To help with Steven Robles' medical bills, a donation page has been set up here.

The back story about Robles' condition is posted here.

Copyright © 2014 by World Open Water Swimming Association

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