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Fishing and safety some topics of Captiva Community Panel meeting

By Staff | Jan 20, 2016

Many hot topics, such as fishing on the Blind Pass Bridge and the dangers of a certain power pole on Captiva, were discussed during the Captiva Community Panel last week in length.

Lee County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Mike Sawicki provided an update during the monthly Captiva Community Panel regarding a new crime prevention tool the sheriff’s office is participating in called Nextdoor.com. The online neighborhood watch program allows individuals to create a profile and communicate with their neighbors, receive alerts and important information from the sheriff’s department for a particular area.

Sawicki said residents can either go into an existing private neighborhood location, or create a new location if one does not already exist for the neighborhood.

“All the information shared on Nextdoor is password protected and profiles, content and messages will remain private and can’t be accessed by search engines, or seen by the sheriff’s department personnel,” Sawicki said.

He said the website is obviously not used to replace 9-11, or calling the sheriff’s department, but rather a tool for the community to communicate to one another and receive updates from the sheriff’s department.

Another issue the sheriff’s department has been experiencing on Captiva was also discussed by Sawicki during the meeting – fishing in and around the Blind Pass bridge. He said the complaints are coming from residents and responsible fishermen on the bridge who are becoming tired of people taking fish out of season, taking undersized and oversized fish, littering and generally making a mess.

“We do have some responsible fishermen down there and they are actually some of our most regular complaints on this issue,” Sawicki said.

Sawicki, along with his team, are very proactive in checking fishing licenses, while taking an educational approach when talking to the fishermen. He said fishermen come to the area on vacation and do not know a snook from a redfish, and end up taking a fish home to grill because it looks close enough to what they catch at home.

“Checking licenses is actually one of the best ways for us to get to know who is down there,” Sawicki said. “If they are down there they are obligated to show us their fishing license. We will request for them to show their ID matching the name to the license.”

In addition, the sidewalk being blocked by fishing poles and litter is another regular complaint.

Sawicki said in regards to the law, fishermen must be in front of their equipment while fishing. He said if they have eight rods out there and go and eat a sandwich they are in the wrong.

“If a guy is sitting there in front of two fishing rods, we try to be reasonable. That is kind of manageable,” Sawicki said.

Mike Mullins, a member of the panel, said he has seen women pushing baby carriages in the road, rather than on the sidewalks going over the bridge because they cannot get past the poles.

“I can walk through and step over rods and so on, but the people pushing baby carriages have to go out in the roadway,” he said, which is a huge safety concern.

Sawicki said although they cannot manage the Blind Pass Bridge 24 hours a day, they are trying to get a hold of the situation. He said the issue at hand is they have a rotating group of people fishing at the bridge, so after they spend time educating the group for a week, a new group comes in to fish.

“It’s not like in other areas, you can use strong enforcement to change behavior,” Sawicki said.

Net closure in Blind Pass was also discussed due to raised concerns about an abundant amount of fishermen catching mullet. After some research, he said they found that their is a net closure in Blind Pass from Nov. 1 through Jan. 31.

Discussion was also had about the recent accident on Captiva that left residents without powerful for more than 10 hours after the driver hit the same pole that was hit last year.

Jack Cunningham, a member of the panel, said they need some type of barrier by the electric pole because someone is going to get killed.

“If someone does kill themselves at this pole they could very well come after us as one of the people that have not forced an issue on this,” he said.

The panel decided to have the Captiva Fire District contact LCEC about their concerns regarding the light pole, as well as draft a letter from the panel asking LCEC to attend their February meeting.

Follow Meghan @IslanderMeghan on Twitter.