An ordinance that would ban fishing for sharks from Ocean Ridge’s shores was delayed last month to allow research on whether the high water line that marks the town’s boundary would impede enforcement of the law.
“If they’re in the water, they’re outside of Ocean Ridge,” said Police Chief Chris Yannuzzi.
Officers would face a challenge because they’d have to determine where the high water line is to ascertain whether they were in Ocean Ridge’s jurisdiction before they could make an arrest.
The law the commission is considering would prohibit chumming (using cut-up bait to attract sharks), fishing for sharks and using shark-fishing equipment from the town’s beaches.
The ordinance was drafted following similar moves in other towns, including Boca Raton and Delray Beach.
“I don’t see how it’s going to be enforceable,” said Commissioner Geoff Pugh, who said perhaps the law could prevent shark fishermen from bringing their catch over Ocean Ridge’s portion of the beach.
Mayor Ken Kaleel offered another suggestion — that all sharks caught while fishing on Ocean Ridge’s beach be cut loose.
But later he and attorney Ken Spillias talked about exploring whether a cooperative enforcement arrangement would be possible with the state.
The commissioners questioned how Delray Beach and Boca Raton would enforce their laws. “They have yet to enforce it for the first time,” Yannuzzi said.
Delray Beach’s ordinance, which was approved in July 2009, prohibits shark fishing within 300 feet of the city’s public beaches.
In approving the measure, Delray Beach commissioners said the ban helps ensure a safe beach for swimming by preventing chumming, which lures sharks.
Boca Raton approved a proposed ban in December 2010, then passed the ordinance on to their Marine Advisory Board for review.
The board met Feb. 2 and plans to forward its comments to City Council for further action.