Myrtle Beach considers banning chumming in wake of shark attacks - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Myrtle Beach considers banning chumming in wake of shark attacks

Source: Mandy Noell WMBF News Source: Mandy Noell WMBF News
Source: Mandy Noell WMBF News Source: Mandy Noell WMBF News
Source: Mandy Noell WMBF News Source: Mandy Noell WMBF News

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - A string of shark bites and attacks off the Carolina coast have many people worried about getting in the water. How often do you see fishermen throwing chum or unused fish parts into the water off the pier? The city of Myrtle beach is working to make it illegal to do that in any capacity from now on.

Myrtle Beach City Council will have a first reading of the new ordinance tomorrow. If it passes as it's written, it will be illegal to dump chum or any fish parts at all into the water off of piers or from the shore.

The city says the law does have to do with the recent unusual spike in shark attacks along Carolina coast. The law is just one more step to trying to keep the beach safer and not give sharks a reason to come closer to shore.

When it comes to enforcing, you don’t often see police up on piers. “In some cases it is self-policing,” according to Mark Kruea, Spokesman for the City of Myrtle Beach. “Part of the ordinance would require the pier owners to provide the signage, to provide the containers. And we expect they will do that if this passes. Other folks will keep an eye on each other.”

But if you do get caught by police, it would be a misdemeanor, which means a fine of up to $500 dollars or up to 30 days in jail.

The people who will be affected by the new laws, fishermen and pier operators, weighed in on the proposed new law. Some fishermen say if they're not allowed to dump unneeded fish parts into the water, it will be an inconvenience. But the city's bottom line is safety for swimmers down there on the beach, and fishermen agree the law would make it safer along the coast.

"Well really it is unsafe [to dump chum],” said fisherman Corey Walker. “You have people swimming, you have children at the coastline like that, and the sharks they don’t care. You’re creating a hazard if you’re going to do a whole lot of chumming."

Chumming is a practice typically done to attract sharks.

 "People don’t come out here to fish for sharks," according to fisherman Garry Bullard. Doing so is illegal in city limits, and for the most part fishermen say they don't see anyone trying to deliberately hook a shark.

“I don’t care for chumming period. Especially this close here. Out there, in the water, chum out there all you want. But not here. Cause there’s too many people.”

Sharks hunting for fish, swimming toward chum pose a dangerous threat to the swimmers just beyond the pier on the coast. For fishermen who dump fish parts into the water, it’s usually a habit and not to create a dangerous environment.

“Sometimes they fish with fish to, for king mackerel or Spanish Mackerel,” Bullard said. “And that’s what they’re after. Very seldom do you see anybody out here for sharks. But when you’re out here with the live bait, or cut bait, people are going to get sharks coming in here.”

“This [law] would take away that sort of accidental chance that you’d end up drawing sharks in through deliberate chumming or through discarding fish parts back into the ocean,” Kruea said.

The law would add responsibility to pier owners. "Under this ordinance the pier owner would be required to post signage, but also provide containers, receptacles for people to throw their fish parts into once they’re done cleaning," according to Kruea.

The city says it shouldn't be too expensive for pier operators. Even so, some were not pleased with the proposed law.

"I’d hate to see anyone quit fishing on account of that you know. But if it has to protect the people, do your fishing out there for the bigger fish," according to Bullard.

“We have to be conscious that there are not thousands, but millions of people who swim right off shore here every day in the summer months,” Kruea finished. “Even the spring and the fall. We have to make sure we provide a safe environment for them, too.”

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