Florida’s Proposal to Curb Bird Deaths at Skyway Pier Falls Short

Florida’s Proposal to Curb Bird Deaths at Skyway Pier Falls Short

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.— The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Fee declared proposed restrictions today to tackle fowl fatalities and injuries at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier State Park. The shift arrives after nonprofit rescuers, wildlife teams and teachers highlighted the hundreds of birds rescued from entanglement at the pier in excess of the past two several years.

“These fifty percent-steps are unsuccessful to definitely handle the dire problem faced by the hundreds of Bay-region birds getting entangled and hooked at the Skyway Pier,” claimed Elise Bennett, Florida director at the Heart for Organic Variety. “It’s a disgrace we have to press so challenging to get our conservation fee to stop the inhumane and wasteful deaths of pelicans and other stunning coastal birds here in Tampa Bay. We urge the fee to bolster these protections in advance of finalizing the rule.”

The commission’s present-day proposed rule for the Skyway Pier would impose an annual education prerequisite, prohibit the use of fishing rigs with extra than one particular hook or many hooks from November by March, restrict anglers to two sets of hook-and-line gear, and prohibit the use of sabiki rigs yr-spherical on the north end of the south fishing pier. If the measure is accredited, fee workers suggest revisiting the principles following two a long time to decide irrespective of whether they must be revised.

The Center and Good friends of the Pelicans are urging the commission to work with the Florida Office of Environmental Protection, which operates the pier, to adopt a stronger suite of protections. All those involve hiring multiple total-time chicken rescuers, restricting anglers to making use of one or two poles at a time and necessitating that they be attended, and prohibiting numerous-hook gear pier-vast and year-round.

If people steps fail to noticeably lower harm, Florida wildlife officials ought to contemplate completely or seasonally closing the north finish of the south pier, wherever unsafe entanglements are most regular, the groups say.

“We are pretty dissatisfied that, so much, Florida wildlife officers are unwilling to give pelicans the protections they want,” mentioned Jeanette Edwards, founder of Close friends of the Pelicans. “We’re specially anxious that the company is only proposing protections for section of the year. Pelicans are hooked and killed all year long at the Skyway Pier and consequently call for yr-very long safeguards.”

Above the previous two several years, volunteers with Friends of the Pelicans have rescued far more than 2,300 birds. They have witnessed even much more injured or useless birds at the pier and in close by rookeries. A peer-reviewed study of the Skyway piers and two other close by piers uncovered that more than 7{95b18eb6fc4f42efd0d92738dfc3fb79fde21da267a711ecdf0381147c27bb86} of brown pelicans observed were entangled in fishing equipment.

The massive amount of birds injured and killed at the pier, which is shut to significant coastal rookeries at the Tampa Bay Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, could trigger declines in the estuary’s chicken populations.

Today’s regulatory proposal follows a letter sent by conservation groups to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Assistance in December 2022. The letter urged the federal agency to enforce the Migratory Hen Treaty Act if Florida doesn’t swiftly and correctly rein in threats to secured coastal birds at the pier. The letter was submitted by the Centre for Organic Range, Pals of the Pelicans, Friends of the Tampa Bay Countrywide Wildlife Refuges, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Humane Modern society of the United States and American Fowl Conservancy.

Wildlife commissioners will acquire public remark and come to a decision regardless of whether to approve the proposed rule for publication during their meeting on Feb. 21, 2023, in Jacksonville, Florida. Published remarks may well be submitted ahead of the conference by means of the on the web commenting portal by 5 p.m. Jap on Feb. 16, 2023.


The Skyway fishing pier is made up of the stays of the previous Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which partially collapsed throughout a vessel collision in 1980. Right after renovating the bridge’s remaining portions, the Florida Division of Transportation leased it in 1994 to the Florida Department of Environmental Safety to administer as a condition park.

Since of its one of a kind dimensions and height, the Skyway fishing pier is deadlier to birds than any an additional other pier in the point out. The pier’s size and top make it tricky to rescue hooked or entangled birds. With no aid from qualified rescuers, anglers often lower the line, a very likely dying sentence for the chicken.

When anglers use several fishing poles, strains extending as significantly as 150 feet from the pier create a maze for coastal birds to navigate, generally creating them to pull fishing poles fully into the water. Gear with multiple hooks can depart gashes and tears in pelicans’ pouches and sever tendons and ligaments, which might involve surgical procedure or euthanasia.

The Migratory Chook Treaty Act was enacted in 1918 to implement the United States’ intercontinental treaty commitments to safeguard populations of migratory birds. Its provisions prohibit the purposeful and incidental just take of migratory birds with out prior authorization from the Fish and Wildlife Service. The Tampa Bay Estuary is house to several species of pelican, gull, egret, heron and other coastal birds guarded underneath the Act.

Chicken populations in North The usa are plummeting, with 3 billion birds having disappeared from the continent given that 1970.