Using chum to catch sharks concerns Belleair Beach neighbors

Pinellas County

BELLEAIR BEACH, Fla (WFLA) – They came to catch sharks they ended up catching the attention of Belleair Beach neighbors.

Eight fishermen used fish heads and other forms of chum, to lure the meat-eating predators.

On the beach in front of Cliff Gibbon’s condo, he spotted a group of men using kayaks and cinder blocks to sink hooks to catch sharks. “I love to fish. I’ve been doing it all my life. But this is over the line” said Gibbons.

“The problem here is the health, safety, and welfare of hundreds of people that will be on these beaches over the next several days for the 4th of July,” he said.

Gibbons, the son of the late Congressman Sam Gibbons, and a life-long resident of the area, cherishes the beach ecosystem, but worries chum spread to attract sharks, is dangerous. “It’s reckless conduct to be able to have people out here, 8 people fishing with this kind of crude bait and attempt to kill sharks out here on this beach,” said Gibbons.

Former Belleair Beach Mayor, Leslie Notaro is convinced, there are better places to cast lines for sharks.

“If they’re gonna chum out there and throw out food, the sharks are gonna keep coming back, saying dinner tonight? Dinner tonight? Ya know.  And dinner tonight might be somebody’s grandkid” said Notaro.

Recently, sharks attacked a Hudson man in the Bahamas, while he was spearfishing and a California woman died when a shark ripped off her right arm. It all brings back memories of the movie “Jaws.”

“I don’t feel comfortable with them chumming the waters in front of where we like to swim” said Cody Gibbons, Cliff’s son.

Chumming for sharks on the beach is illegal.

“I fish too. I love to fish.  But not for sharks off of a beach where people swim” said Leslie Notaro.

A Pinellas County Deputy paid a visit to see what was happening,  but told the residents, his hands were tied.

The neighbors would like to see a local ordinance in place to regulate this kind of thing.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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