April 28, 2023 - Hundreds of pounds of lead sinkers, ragged cast nets, miles of monofilament, alluring lures, rusty rods and reels. It was enough to make any angler cry.
On April 26 and 27, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) officers led a cleanup event that netted hundreds of pounds of booty, most of it the result of anglers and boaters who lost lines and lures. Larger items included an anchor and sections of aluminum grates tossed from the north jetty into the inlet during Hurricane Nicole last fall.
More than 50 divers and support crew participated in the event. Partnering agencies included the Melbourne Beach Police and Fire departments, Orange County Sheriff's Office, U.S. Fish & Wildlife, Lake County Sheriff's Office and the Clean Water Coalition and Sebastian Inlet State Park (SISP). Sebastian Inlet District provided cold drinks and snacks on both days, while Long Doggers and M H Williams Construction served up tasty lunches to the cleanup crew. Lowe's donated buckets for the cleanup event.
Divers battled windy conditions and choppy waters on both days but were undeterred, focusing primarily on the rocky shoreline on the inside of the north jetty. From the jetty, bystanders snapped photos and shouted out thanks to the divers.
"We're grateful for our partnerships with Sebastian Inlet State Park and the many law enforcement agencies who participated in such a worthwhile cause," said James Gray, executive director of the Sebastian Inlet District, which is responsible for safe navigation in the inlet channel. "We hope to build on the success of this cleanup event in future years."
Sebastian Inlet District Commissioner Beth Mitchell, who checked out the action on the first day, said she was thrilled by the success of this year's event and the parternships forged among all agencies involved.