By Paul Burdziakowski
For Hometown News
The City Council moved to create an ordinance against net casting in city ponds on Tuesday, May 21.
The topic was up for discussion after recent net casting activities at some of the city's retention ponds and lakes resulted in unwanted debris being left behind. There were also citizen concerns as to the amount of fish taken and the effect it had on the ecosystem of the lakes.
Parks and Recreation Director Susan Lovallo looked into the city's ordinances as it related to cast netting, but did not find anything that prohibited it. According to Ms. Lovallo, with the exception of South Daytona, which has signs that read catch and release only, the county and other neighboring cities do not have any signage or ordinances in place that would prohibit net fishing.
The state supports the Florida Wildlife Commission guidelines that prohibit the type of species taken by net.
A concerned citizen brought a recent net fishing occurrence at Buschman Park to the attention of Councilman Donald Burnette.
The resident observed a significant mess left behind, which was unsanitary and brought an unpleasant odor, Councilman Burnette said. The resident also noticed that bird nesting in the area had diminished as a result of the net fishing.
Ms. Lovallo said much of the concern over net fishing has come from City Center. Many of the larger fish seen taken from City Center recently have been tilapia. Tilapia is considered an invasive species therefore there are no restrictions.
The Florida Wildlife Commission does not allow game fish to be taken by nets only pole, line and hook. This would include bass, crappie, bream, redfish, snook and several other species. It does allow for bait fish, mullet and tilapia to be taken by net.
"Something doesn't seem right about pulling stuff up and leaving it on the bank for someone else to clean up," Councilman Dennis Kennedy said. "If it is becoming a problem we need to do away with it."
"Many people enjoy catch and release in our ponds, but there is something not very sporting about net casting," Mayor Allen Green said.
In other business, members of the Port Orange Baseball Club proposed an upgrade to the baseball field at Spruce Creek Park, which was referred to the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board by the council for a recommendation.
Club Vice President Mike Navarra said dimensions of the baseball fields at Spruce Creek do not accommodate the 13-15 age group with the regulation size field that is needed.
"Our teens have two choices, play for another city or do not play at all," Mr. Navarra said. "Many players drop out and quit baseball due to this."
In his proposal, Mr. Navarra noted that cities, such as Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Orange City, South Daytona and New Smyrna Beach, had regulation baseball fields. Mr. Navarra said Port Orange should be added to that list considering it is the third largest City in Volusia County.
"As parents and coaches we feel baseball offers teens the opportunity to build character, learn about teamwork, physical fitness, leadership, and good sportsmanship," Mr. Navarra said. "We want the chance to help our city's teens build these qualities in our hometown, not go to South Daytona or New Smyrna Beach."
Under Mr. Navarra's proposal, the club would supply the needed manpower and supplies to complete the project, and incur the cost of all required upgrades to the facility in exchange for the city not collecting fees the club pays for the duration of a 3 year contract with annual renewals.
The council was willing to work with the club, but was divided on whether to come up with temporary or permanent modifications to the field.
"This problem has persisted for a while," Councilman Drew Bastian said. "I'd hate to delay it further. I think the proposal is a good short term solution until we find a permanent one."
"I would rather see us put extra money and time into a permanent solution rather than a temporary one, which will have to be changed back," Councilman Kennedy said.
"The kids just want to play baseball and we should find a way to make it happen," Councilman Burnette said.
The Port Orange Baseball Club was formed in 2011 to bring competitive baseball to Port Orange, and is an AAU travel club. Upgrading the field would allow the city to have a Babe Ruth League for ages 13-15. At this time the city only has a recreational league.