Please see below for a position paper by the Executive Committee of the Surfrider Foundation’s First Coast Chapter on the current state of use on and adjacent to the Jacksonville Beach Pier. If you have any questions or comments, please email us or come to a meeting.
For quite some time there has been an ongoing dispute between fisherman and surfers over the area in and around the Jacksonville Beach Pier. We at the Surfrider Foundation First Coast Chapter understand that due to the close proximity of our respective activities, there are times that accidents do occur and tempers can flare-up. We note that the actors in conflicts between the two parties are a very small minority of their respective groups, and most surfers and fishermen on or near the pier behave appropriately and act respectfully towards each other.
As a matter of record, it should be noted that the Surfrider Foundation has within its membership, both surfers, fisherman, and those who are actively involved in both endeavors. As such, we understand each sides desire to partake in their given endeavor in the most enjoyable ways.
After the subject was raised In the December 7-13 issue of Folio Magazine, and in an attempt to look for ways to create a positive dialog and help resolve the issue, the Executive Committee of the First Coast Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation invited a group of fisherman headed by Joe Dionne as well as a representative of the Jacksonville Beach City Council to a sit down meeting. The tone of the meeting was very friendly and open.
From the outset, it has been the Chapter’s preference to find ways other than restrictions to resolve the conflict. We hope both groups can team up to educate surfers and fishermen on the issues. By doing so, we can establish a greater respect between our groups and avoid legislative restrictions that may be untenable for either group. The City should take the time to carefully evaluate all options, including how they have been implemented and received at other sites.
During our meeting the subject of resurrecting the 300’ buffer zone that existed at the old pier was brought up by one of the members of the fisherman’s group. After some debate the fisherman’s group agreed to compromise and proposed a 200’ buffer. While our Executive Committee was not enthusiastic over the proposal and still hopes to avoid any buffer ordinance, we did agree to support up to a 200’ buffer ordinance if one were to be enacted, given the following provisos:
- The ordinance be enforced equally for surfers and fisherman who are in violation, ie. – A surfer who persistently remains within the buffer zone, cuts lines intentionally, or otherwise harasses or confronts a fisherman, or a fisherman who casts beyond the buffer zone, intentionally casts at a surfer to cause harm, or otherwise harasses or confronts a surfer.
- A surfer will not be penalized if a wave they are riding carries them inside the buffer zone, provided they subsequently paddle back outside of the buffer zone. A fisherman will not be penalized who inadvertently casts in the direction of a surfer with no intent to harm.
- That the rules would be relaxed seasonally during periods of low usage on the pier (i.e. – the winter season between the months of November and March).