Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 11:12 am | Partly Cloudy 72º


Captain’s Log: Yes … Fishing will Still be Allowed on Stearns Wharf

Stearns Wharf at dawn. Click to view larger
Stearns Wharf at dawn. ((Capt. David Bacon photo))

I had people coming into my bait & tackle shop, Hook, Line & Sinker all up in arms over the past couple of weeks after a news item led them to believe that the City of Santa Barbara was working on banning fishing on Stearns Wharf.

I didn’t think that would fly but told them I would check into it.

Halting fishing on a public pier is not easy for a city to do. The City of Manhattan Beach has a sorely bruised ego after the State slugged them right in the ego for trying to do exactly that.

If the State has ever had anything to do with funding construction or renovation on a pier, they have a tendency to include citizens’ rights in the papers. That’s just to prevent cities from stomping on peoples’ rights just because a city council gets into a snit about something.

That wasn’t at all the case in our current city effort regarding fishing on Stearns Wharf, and I do not mean for my comment to reflect on our own City Council. Manhattan Beach’s Council, on the other hand, we the people had issues with!

I did go to the Waterfront Offices and asked about the rumors. The knowledgeable and helpful staff there explained that fishing will most certainly still be allowed on Stearns Wharf.

In fact the City Waterfront Department maintains a little bait shop there to support fisherfolk.

What is being worked on is creating City code to support the “No Fishing” signage that is placed in specific areas on the Wharf where the city feels is inappropriate (dangerous) to fish.

Those signs have been there for as many years as I can remember. The problem is, without city code to back them up, they are merely graffiti.

The City has hoped that people would respect the signage and of course staff tells people about it when they see folks fishing in those spots. Cities don’t generally like to have rules that aren’t backed up by municipal code, so they are trying to remedy that.

We do have potential room for concern however, should the City send someone down there to decide what additional areas should be off-limits to fisherfolk.

I’m a strong opponent of shutting down fishing access, which our State Constitution guarantees in State waters, so I’ll be watching for encroachment and ready to fight for our rights.

The State may be helpful, should that occur.

— Capt. David Bacon operates WaveWalker Charters and is president of SOFTIN Inc., a nonprofit organization providing seafaring opportunities for those in need. Visit to learn more about the organization and how you can help. Click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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