Conservation teams despatched a letter on December 15 urging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to implement the Migratory Chook Treaty Act if Florida doesn’t swiftly rein in threats to protected coastal birds on the Sunshine Skyway Fishing Pier State Park.
The Middle for Organic Range, Buddies of the Pelicans, Buddies of the Tampa Bay Nationwide Wildlife Refuges, Conservancy of Southwest Florida, Humane Society of the US, and American Chook Conservancy be aware that state-sanctioned fishing actions on the Skyway fishing pier are injuring and killing Brown Pelicans and different migratory coastal birds at a large scale once they change into hooked or entangled in gear.
Over the previous two years, volunteers with Buddies of the Pelicans have rescued greater than 2,300 birds. They’ve witnessed much more injured or lifeless birds on the pier and close by rookeries.
“We’re witnessing so many seabirds undergo and die across the Skyway fishing pier week after week, and it has to cease,” mentioned Jeanette Edwards, founding father of Buddies of the Pelicans. “We imagine that Florida can and may take significant steps to make angling on the pier safer for birds and extra pleasurable for the folks fishing there. It’s a part of the state’s accountability to guard our wildlife — for us and for future generations to get pleasure from.”
The conservation teams’ letter asserts that the state businesses working, managing, and regulating the Skyway fishing pier have didn’t successfully curtail this huge hurt to coastal birds, as demonstrated by ongoing entanglement and hooking incidents.
“It’s devastating that so many migratory birds are being injured and killed on the Skyway, and the state’s deadly mismanagement violates federal regulation,” mentioned Elise Bennett, Florida director and lawyer on the Middle for Organic Range. “If Florida doesn’t transfer rapidly to really safeguard protected migratory birds on the pier, then the Fish and Wildlife Service should intervene. The state can’t proceed to depend on volunteers’ altruism to take care of the fallout of its personal ineffective administration.”
The big variety of birds injured and killed on the pier, which is near vital coastal rookeries on the Tampa Bay Nationwide Wildlife Refuge, might trigger declines within the estuary’s fowl populations.
“The distinctive wildlife of our group is beneath unprecedented strain from all of us,” mentioned Patrick Mundus, vp of Buddies of the Tampa Bay Nationwide Wildlife Refuges. “We’d like everybody to work collectively to protect our Tampa Bay house as a spot for wildlife and folks.”
“Our profitable work to make the Naples Pier safer for shorebirds exhibits that Florida can and may do extra to guard migratory birds on the Skyway too,” mentioned Joanna Fitzgerald, hospital director at Conservancy of Southwest Florida’s von Arx Wildlife Hospital. “The Conservancy, Naples Metropolis Council and the Naples Police Division labored collectively to scale back and stop accidents to shorebirds on the Naples Pier by banning the use and possession of multiple-hook gear, limiting days and instances when the pier can be utilized for fishing, and prohibiting leaving hooks and equipment unattended. Modifications like these may also help stability leisure angling and defending migratory birds.”
“It’s unlucky that Florida Division of Environmental Safety has failed to make sure there are sufficient full-time fowl rescuers on employees and that they haven’t tried to switch the Skyway’s hours of operation, particularly at evening,” mentioned Kate MacFall, Florida state director with Humane Society of the US. “These primary mitigation insurance policies would assist lower the variety of birds harmed or killed and enhance the expertise for fishers as properly.”
In the present day’s letter supplies a listing of actions the state should take to make sure fishing actions on the pier are secure for coastal birds and anglers. These embrace hiring a number of full-time fowl rescuers, limiting anglers to utilizing one pole at a time, which should stay within the angler’s management, and prohibiting multiple-hook gear. The teams additionally counsel full or partial closure of the north finish of the south pier, the place dangerous entanglements are most frequent.
The Skyway fishing pier consists of the stays of the previous Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which partially collapsed throughout a vessel collision in 1980. After renovating the bridge’s remaining parts, the Florida Division of Transportation leased it in 1994 to the Florida Division of Environmental Safety to manage as a state park.
Due to its distinctive dimension and peak, the Skyway fishing pier is deadlier to birds than any one other different pier within the state. The pier’s size and peak make it tough to rescue hooked or entangled birds. With out help from skilled rescuers, anglers usually lower the road, a probable loss of life sentence for the fowl.
When anglers use a number of fishing poles, strains extending so far as 150 ft from the pier create a maze for coastal birds to navigate, usually inflicting them to tug fishing poles completely into the water. Gear with a number of hooks can depart gashes and tears in pelicans’ pouches and will require surgical procedure if swallowed.
The Migratory Chook Treaty Act was enacted in 1918 to implement the US’ worldwide treaty commitments to guard populations of migratory birds. Its provisions prohibit the purposeful and incidental take of migratory birds with out prior authorization from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Tampa Bay Estuary is house to many species of pelican, gull, egret, heron, and different coastal birds protected beneath the Act.
Chook populations in North America are plummeting, with 3 billion birds having disappeared from the continent since 1970.
Due to the Middle for Organic Range for offering this information.