Melbourne Beach residents complain about shark fishing near surfers

By Justin Warmoth - Anchor

MELBOURNE BEACH, Fla. - Locals have been complaining for months about people fishing for sharks near surfers and swimmers at Melbourne Beach.

Florida Tech grad student Jared McNally has been surfing at Melbourne Beach for years and he says he sees sharks on a daily basis.

"They're out there, but usually they're not a problem," said McNally. "If there's more, obviously there's going to be a problem."

And more have been spotted, according to Melbourne Beach Mayor Jim Simmons.

For months, locals have told Melbourne Beach officials they're seeing an increased number of sharks closer to shore. The reason? He said people are fishing for sharks on the beach and bringing them closer to shore by chumming up the waters with dead fish.

It's gotten so bad that Simmons wants to ban shark-fishing from certain areas of Melbourne Beach.

"Having some rules to prevent shark-fishing specifically on the beaches might be helpful," said McNally.

But state constitution says that only Florida Fish and Wildlife can regulate fishing, including shark fishing, within the state.

However, there is one exception.

Municipalities may regulate fishing if "public safety" is an issue and the Mayor Simmons says he certainly thinks the public is at risk.

Simmons says Melbourne Beach's attorney will be meeting with FWC's attorney to try and workout an ordinance to prohibit shark fishing at Melbourne Beach.

It's up for discussion at Wednesday's town commission meeting.

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