Fishing banned at Capitola Wharf


Another fishing pier has been closed to fishermen in Santa Cruz County to save pelicans from getting caught and injured in the hooks.

Now the wharf at Capitola is shut down, after Fish and Game shut down the pier at Aptos on Monday.

The International Bird Rescue Research Center out of Fairfield has very passionate volunteers and they put the pressure on city leaders and got some results. On Monday, temporary no fishing signs went up on the wharf.

Sunbathing on the beach in Capitola is a yes, fishing off the wharf: a no.

Early on Tuesday morning, police gently spread the word. The signs went up just in time to disappoint Filip Appledorn and his son Timo from Holland.

"We brought some equipment and we walk to the wharf and no fishing," said Filip Appledorn.

The age old tradition of fishing off the wharf, clashes with natures cycle of life. On Tuesday, there were saw pelicans tangled in fishing line or injured by fish hooks.

The plethora of bait fish in the bay sent pelicans dive bombing and those long fishing lines don't mix.

"Kamikaze. There was nothing you could do, other than when they got close just kind of stop fishing for awhile," said fisherman Marty Formico.

So the wharf is open but closed to fishing. It's just the latest blow to the people at Capitola's Boat and Bait.

"We're starving as it is, it's been a bad year with the salmon closures shorter rock cod season, it's just another nail in the coffin," said Frank Ealy from Capitola Boat and Bait.

The city made a tough decision but even more difficult was the thought of pelicans dying needlessly from their injuries.

"It was the right thing to do and it's sad but it has to be done," said a fisherman.

For people looking to fish, it can still be done by boat: shorter lines, less problems and the potential for a good story.

"This is what they could catch off the boats," said a fisherman.

In this case, when one pastime disappears, another emerges. Watching pelicans from the wharf is allowed and mesmerizing.

"I think it's a blessing. I've lived here for 16 years and I've never seen anything like it. And it's quite a show," said pelican watcher Eileen Attanasio.

Monte Merrick from the International Bird Rescue Center has a close eye on the pelicans for another reason: he's looking for any more injured birds out there and thankfully finding fewer. The fishing ban will disappear with the sardines and the timing is up to the fish.

"It's a conversance of factors that allowed this to happen and it will disappear as mysteriously as it began," said Merrick.

As Filip and Timo will tell you, timing is everything. And sometimes a picture is all you get.

"Now we end up wanting to rent a boat and they say the boats have to be back by 3:00 p.m. and it is 2:15 p.m., where's our luck today. I think we'll go to a fish restaurant," said Appledorn.

Marine experts say it could be just a few days before these anchovies and other fish move on, and it could be weeks. Whenever the situation changes, then the temporary fishing ban will be lifted.

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