NAVARRE BEACH — Alvin Pittman has used his cast net to fish for mullet in Navarre Beach waters nearly every week for 50 years.


The 78-year-old Air Force veteran isn’t into bowfishing or crossbow fishing. But Thursday he showed up for the Santa Rosa County Commission public hearing in Milton to watch them vote, 4-1, to ban bowfishing on the one-mile stretch of the Navarre Beach Bridge and causeway.


Pittman wanted to make sure cast-net and hook-and-line fishing remained options along the stretch that serves as an entryway to the four-mile barrier island.


“I’m out there every day when the wind is out of the east,” Pittman said. “It helps me throw my net for mullet.”


In all of his time fishing at Navarre Beach, Pittman said, he has seen only three fishermen using a bow or crossbow to catch fish.


Pittman also wants to make sure the county enforces the prohibition. Otherwise, he asked, “What good is it posting signs out there?”


Only Lane Lynchard, the county’s District 5 commissioner and an avid outdoorsman, voted against the ordinance outlawing bowfishing on the beach bridge and causeway.


“I do not agree with the implementation of this ordinance,” said Lynchard during the public hearing. “I fish and hunt with my son. That activity is regulated by the FWC (Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission). We are thought of as a hunting- and fishing-friendly county. This just doesn’t sit well with me. I hate to see the erosion of sportsmen’s rights in any way.”


District 2 Commissioner Bob Cole supported the measure.


“Shooting from the shoreline or down off the bridge isn’t safe,” he said. “Our first duty is to protect the citizens.”


Keith Hall, an avid fishermen who lives in Navarre, supported prohibiting fishermen from using bows and arrows along the narrow stretch.


“Someone holding that weapon kind of strikes fear into people,” Hall said.


Arthur Brown has lived off the Blackwater River in Milton for more than 40 years. He opposed the new county law.


“They start with bowfishing, then they will regulate hook-and -ine and cast-net throwing,” Brown said. “There is no good reason to ever keep us from fishing off the causeway seawall.”