WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) – The Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen voted 4-1 in favor of restricting swimmers 200 feet from both the Johnnie Mercer’s Pier and Crystal Pier Thursday night during the second reading. They set a 350 foot limit for surfers.
Fisherman said they would have liked to have seen a harsher restriction.
This decision amended last month’s first reading motion of setting a 200 foot restriction from the Piers for swimmers and surfers. That vote count was 3-2.
"If enforcement is firm and timely, I think it will work well,” Matt Johnson, owner of Johnnie Mercer’s Pier said.
To designate the zones specific to swimmers or surfers, the Board said they will mark the areas with different colored poles and buoys.
The Board also voted to increase the fine for people who violate the restrictions from $100 to $250.
"There's no such thing as 100% enforcement, but I think this will go a long way to making the beaches safer,” Johnson said.
Some argue it would be safer to have surfers closer to the piers, especially during afterhours when the life guards leave their post.
"The lifeguards are extremely qualified and do a great job but they can't be everywhere at once. That's why they said when they are not there afterhours, the surfers are the second best thing,” Michael Kupferman said.
Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Director, Dave Baker, cautioned the Board of Alderman to set the same zone for swimmers and surfers.
Kupferman was shocked the Board did not take his advice.
"For the Board to not take what the professionals say is almost disrespectful because that's their job, that's what they are there for and they do know best," he said.
The Board said they would use this beach season as a trial period for these new guidelines. They say they will revisit the restrictions in the off-season.