Folly Beach to consider shark fishing ban near pier

Folly Beach City Council will consider a ban on shark fishing near the pier at its March 8 meeting. (file/staff)

FOLLY BEACH — Worried that shark fishing could endanger swimmers, City Council will consider banning the practice near the pier.

The proposed ban, which will be voted on March 8, comes in response to a request from Charleston County Parks and Recreation. The prohibition would apply to an area of beach from 3rd Street East to 3rd Street West.

“You’re going to stop the guy from going out there with three pounds of old roast and a big hook and throwing it out there specifically baiting sharks,” said Mayor Tim Goodwin.

He anticipates no council opposition to the proposed shark fishing ban, which includes angling for “any other marine life dangerous to swimmers.”

PRC requested the ban to reinforce its pier rules. “The last thing we want to do, being a fishing pier, is attract more sharks,” said Joey Crawford, pier operations manager.

Pier fishermen angling for other species often catch smaller sharks which must be released.

“They (sharks) are going to be caught. We know that. We just don’t want people chumming out there. Throwing big pieces of meat,” Crawford said.

Shark fishing from piers was an accepted and popular practice in South Carolina until Walter Maxwell landed a 1,780-pound tiger shark from the end of Cherry Grove Fishing Pier in North Myrtle Beach on June 14, 1964. His record-shattering catch became the catalyst for bans on shark fishing from piers and populated swimming areas.

Last beach season, dubbed the “Summer of the Shark,” began in early May when an angler on Isle of Palms reeled in a 10-foot lemon shark from just beyond the surf. Then a rash of bites and attacks occurred — seven in North Carolina and three in South Carolina — in June and early July.

Two other serious attacks in which two teens each lost a limb occurred at Oak Island, North Carolina, the same June weekend.

Bait from fishing off a nearby pier was blamed for the Oak Island attacks and prompted officials there to ask the state to ban shark fishing during the Fourth of July holiday. The request was denied.

A 12-year-old vacationer was bitten June 30 at Isle of Palms County Park. The Utah boy, who was not seriously injured, was interviewed for the National Geographic show “When Sharks Attack.”

IOP and Sullivan’s Island allow shark fishing, officials said.

Reach Prentiss Findlay at (843) 937-5711.