Calkins Wins Unanimous Board Support to “Kill” Shark Fishing Restrictions on Navarre Beach

Posted on July 11, 2023 by Romi White

Santa Rosa County District 3 Commissioner James Calkins on Monday received unanimous support from fellow board members to “kill” a staff-led effort to impose certain fishing restrictions on Navarre Beach.

Dozens of local anglers, including Santa Rosa County Tax Collector Stan Colie Nichols, pictured at the podium, showed up during public forum to ask the board to stop the effort to restrict fishermen. Holley native Gene Sullivan expressed frustration that the new regulations were about to go into effect without any public notice. 

“I want to ensure we protect our local fishermen and their freedom from unnecessary government regulation,” Calkins told South Santa Rosa News. “I greatly appreciate my fellow commissioners supporting this motion, which will put this to rest.” 

While Calkins came away with a huge win and the heart-felt appreciation of the local fishing community, two other commissioners walked away with egg on their face. 

District 2 Commissioner Kerry Smith found himself in a quandary when Navarre shark fisherman Kyle McNamara read an exchange of emails between them. 

It’s the second time Smith has come under fire recently after he removed long-time Santa Rosa County Marine Advisory Committee member Pasco Gibson, who said Smith falsely accused him of not having time to serve. Smith replace Gibson, a Republican, with Democrat Shana Alford.



“Just to give you a backdrop, this started (with) a disgruntled shark fisherman that was running a business with a tent set up and all on Navarre Beach close to the pier, shark fishing in the middle of the day,” stated Smith in the email to McNamara. Smith went on to say that “fella” set up a for-profit business on the beach without a permit or business license. “He was approached by the director of Tourist Development, and he got nasty with her and then a sheriff’s deputy was called and from there it escalated. This fella was pretty sore about all this and from there he went on a rant on a social media site and then it was picked up by (South Santa Rosa News)…None of what is circulating is true.”

What Smith did not realize is that McNamara was that shark fisherman who had the altercation with Santa Rosa County Tourist Development Director Julie White.

McNamara during tonight’s public forum read his response back to Smith. “I find humor in this because truth be told, it is I who was the shark fisherman. There is just one thing though, I was far from ‘disgruntled.’ I was in fact very polite and respectful with the (Tourism Director). It seems the director has spread false information…To start, I was no where near the pier.” McNamara went on to say he was two miles away from any designated swimming area and not shark fishing during daylight hours. He also provided his business license information. Additionally, according to McNamara, it was White who was “rude.”

District 5 Commissioner Colten Wright, who currently serves as Chairman of the Board, also repeated false information to a constituent via email. 

In a June 7 response to Navarre resident Mark Drew Wright, Commissioner Wright stated, “No action had been taken nor was it actually in motion.” But that was untrue.

“We will be prohibiting shark fishing west of the kayak walkover,” White stated in a June 6 email to her boss, County Administrator DeVann Cook.

After South Santa Rosa News broke the news that county staff planned to impose the fishing restriction, District 3 Commissioner James Calkins met with Cook on July 7 and successfully negotiated stopping the effort until public input could be sought.

Subsequently, Santa Rosa County Beach Manager Rick Vance that same day called to cancel signage which had been ordered and planned for installation upon delivery.  

Santa Rosa County had designed and ordered these signs which were going to be installed at multiple locations along Navarre Beach. 








District 4 Commissioner Ray Eddington told fellow board members he had received more than 100 emails about the issue and all but one supported not adding any new fishing restrictions.

“We’re all in agreement on this,” said Eddington.

The board unanimously agreed to move forward Calkins’ motion for an official vote to kill the effort to add the fishing restrictions on Thursday.