The city of Cape Coral is considering an end to a long-standing tradition popular in a community that promotes itself as a waterfront wonderland.
Councilmember Kevin McGrail, who said he has received complaints from nearby property owners, wants to ban fishing from and around 10 canal bridges used by anglers.
According to complaints received, the fishermen leave trash, trespass, and are noisy to boot, Mr. McGrail told his fellow board members during a council workshop held Monday.
What he suggests is that council give itself the authority to ban bridge fishing on a case-by-case basis via resolution, and that anglers be given an alternative to dropping a line from city rights-of-way - dawn to dusk fishing at a pair of north Cape parks to be upgraded with some picnic tables and portable toilets.
Failure to comply with the ban would result in a $50 fine, enough to be a deterrent but not overly punitive, Mr. McGrail said.
His fellow board members failed to bite, and Mr. McGrail may have some difficulty reeling in enough votes when the proposed ordinance comes to public hearing on April 9.
Our recommendation on this one follows much the same line - don't take the bait on this one.
First, while packaged as a health-safety-welfare issue, the city attorney could not recall a single situation where the Cape has become embroiled in litigation due to an angler-involved incident.
While we agree that there is some risk, it is essentially the same risk faced by any shared-use activity, from walking along a roadway to biking even within marked lanes.
Two, there already are regulations on the books to deal with offenders who flout littering laws and the like.
Limiting public access to a popular pastime as a means to control any flagrant few is casting far too wide a net.
Enforcing the laws we already have makes better sense.
Three, this is setting the hook for a much more restrictive ban in the future. There are 158 canal bridges in the city of Cape Coral. While not all are within the city's purview, opening the door to additional bans via council resolution would minimize future public input.
We should not go there.
And finally, in these economic times, limiting passive, low-cost recreational opportunities of the very type that draw people to our community just does not make sense.
Council should toss this one back. It's simply not a keeper.
- Breeze editorial