“These are not Norman Rockwell type fisherman,” said a Mashta Island resident addressing problems on Mashta Bridge. “These are professional fishermen.”
With a background slideshow of "No Fishing" signs on bridges in Miami and Coral Gables, at least four residents of Mashta Island spoke on the problems created by fishermen, including improper parking on the only means of ingress and egress of the island, overfishing, blood on the pavers, and nets and lines left in the water and on the bridge.
Carlos de la Cruz, Jr. warned of the potential liability of kids and fisherman darting in and out of traffic. "The village needs to be aware that it may be liable for creating an attractive nuisance."
Village Attorney Chad Friedman was asked for the history of fishing on the bridge by Councilmember Katie Petros. He explained that fishing had been banned for about three years and had recently been reinstated because a key resident requested fishing off the bridge with his kids. The village collected a fishing license fee of $10 for key residents and $50 for non-residents.
The Council asked Chief Press to discuss the police force’s view of the fishermen on the bridge. “It started out nice and quiet then became problematic,” he said. “We check and see if they have a license and if they do they can stay.”
Chief Press also cautioned that the bridge “provides an opportunity for the best observation in the world for the comings and goings on that island.”
When asked by Vice Mayor Allison McCormick if the fishermen were residents of Key Biscayne, Chief Press said it was not his job to babysit whether or not those angling off the bridge lived on the key.
Just prior to the resolution vote unanimously passing to ban fishing from the bridge, McCormick expressed sadness when she learned it was also residents leaving a mess behind. “I see it on the Village Green and we are not good stewards of our own assets. There is no maid service coming up behind us.”
Councilmember Ed London insisted those that already purchased fishing licenses be reimbursed their expenses. “It’s only fair,” he said.