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Fishermen vs. surfers at Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting

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WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH, NC (WWAY) -- Fishermen and surfers faced off at the Wrightsville Beach Board of Aldermen meeting Thursday night. The two sides battled over the surfing restrictions near both Johnnie Mercer's Pier and Crystal Pier.

Johnnie Mercer's Fishing Pier at Wrightsville Beach extends more than 900 feet into the Atlantic ocean. It is not only a hot spot for tourists, but a hot topic at Thursday night's Wrightsville Beach Board of Alderman Meeting. The board reevaluated no-surfing zones at both Johnnie Mercer's Pier and Crystal Piers.

Fishermen cast their votes toward no surfing within 500 feet of the piers. They say not only do surfers often get pulled under the pier by the current, but surfers disrupt a sport which attracts tourists. Surfers disagreed with fishermen. They argued that surfing is just as much of a tourist attraction as fishing.

"Anybody who reads National Geographic, look at the top 20 surfing beaches in the world," said one life-long surfer. "Wrightsville Beach is in that top 20."

The debate lasted over an hour. Ultimately, the board based the decision on the advice of Wrightsville Beach Ocean Rescue Director, Dave Baker.

"The ability to maintain and control a safe beach environment for us is that 200 foot (no-surfing zone)," said Baker.

The board voted 3 to 2 in favor of no-surfing zones within 200 feet of both Johnnie Mercer's Pier and Crystal Pier. The topic will be revisited next month.

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