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Downtown bridge fishing raises concerns

Posted: July 20, 2014 - 11:01pm

KETCHIKAN — Ketchikan city leaders have been asked to come up with ideas to address concerns with fishing from the Stedman Street Bridge.

Residents who testified before the Ketchikan City Council on Thursday generally agreed that fishing should continue to be allowed in some way. But concerns were raised, too, about congested sidewalks, the potential for a tourist to get snagged with a flying fishing hook, and kayakers getting hassled.

“We’ve been bombarded with fishing sinkers, hooks, coins,” Southeast Sea Kayaks owner Greg Thomas said. “We call the police numerously. In fact, we called the police today. It’s just disgraceful.”

Council member DeAnn Karlson said she has been in the area when the hooks were flying and it’s incredible no one has been seriously injured.

“I’ve also been down there before where I had to weave my way through the blood and guts,” she said. “It’s not endearing for our community.”

Some people said fishing should continue from the bridge while others suggested a new space be built, away from the main pedestrian areas, KRBD reported.

Mayor Lew Williams III suggested the city start enforcing some of its rules.

City Manager Karl Amylon asked whether the council wanted to cite people for littering if they clean fish on the sidewalk. Williams said yes, especially if there is a sign telling them where to find the fish-cleaning station.

Council member Marty West suggested better signs to direct people to the station.

The discussion ended with the council directing city management to talk with the state and Stephen Reeve of Historic Ketchikan about options. The state owns the bridge, and Reeve told the council he’s looked at some options already, including floats that could be built and provided to the fishermen as an alternative.

Council member Dick Coose expressed concerns about possible liability with that idea.

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