New rules implemented to protect seabirds at world’s longest fishing pier

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Sunshine Skyway Bridge as seen from St. Petersburg. By Seán Kinane (2011).

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The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission approved a new rule for the Skyway Fishing Pier State Park on Wednesday. The rule is aimed at protecting thousands of seabirds entangled at the park located on a decommissioned highway bridge.

It’s the longest fishing pier in the world and attracts many species of fish. It also attracts pelicans.

Melissa Tucker is the director of Habitat and Species Conservation for The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

“When it’s untreated, severe entanglements and their associated injuries can often lead to the death of the birds. The unintentional entanglement of birds have been occurring at the pier for many years. Angler-seabird interactions are more common at Skyway Pier than any other pier, based on a published study.”

The Commission met at a hotel ballroom in St. Petersburg for the first of two days of meetings.

The new rule prohibits multi-hook rings and gear from mid-November to mid-March,. It also requires education for anglers.

Mary is the past president of Tampa Audubon Society and spoke during public comment.

“We definitely support what’s going on, we’d like to see more, we think that there’s scientific evidence to support a lot more. But it’s a start.”

The new rules will be reviewed 2 years after implementation.

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