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Manatee County Commission looks for strategies to protect pelicans on Skyway Fishing Pier

BRADENTON – In a regular meeting Tuesday, the Manatee County Commission heard concerns brought before them by Friends of the Pelicans, Inc. The local nonprofit organization’s mission is the prevention of injury and death to seabirds from fishing line entanglement—the number one cause of death for pelicans and a risk to other seabird species. The organization had requested the commission consider the adoption of a resolution that might help their efforts to save seabirds, especially brown pelicans.

Charlie Hunsicker, Director of Manatee County’s Parks and Natural Resources Department, presented Resolution R-22-001 before the board.

The resolution sought to use the persuasion and influence of local government to urge the state government and its agencies to work closely with local governments and citizens’ groups to find and institute solutions that might protect the seabirds from the hazards of fishing line entanglement at the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier, while also preserving the public’s continued access to the pier for fishing. The pier is part of the Florida Park Service and is owned by the Florida Department of Transportation.

During her presentation at Tuesday’s meeting, Jeanette Edwards, founder of Friends of the Pelicans, Inc., explained to the commission that incidences of injury and death to seabirds in our area have increased over recent years. Edwards provided that her agency alone had tracked the injury and deaths of 146 seabirds in 2018, compared to 1,440 in 2021—with a total of more than 2,600 seabirds having been impacted from 2018 through June of 2021. The South Skyway Fishing Pier is an area of increased concern to the organization, accounting for a higher percentage of the injuries and deaths the group has tracked.