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Who owns the ocean water? Florida woman says she does. Fisherman says no way

Woman tells Florida man she owns water

Vero Beach property owner Joyce Khatibi told Melbourne, Florida fisherman Jose Ortiz he couldn’t fish from along State Road AIA because she owns the water. Now he’s planning a Fish Joyce’s Dock Facebook Live event.
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Vero Beach property owner Joyce Khatibi told Melbourne, Florida fisherman Jose Ortiz he couldn’t fish from along State Road AIA because she owns the water. Now he’s planning a Fish Joyce’s Dock Facebook Live event.

A Melbourne fisherman says he regularly fishes along State Road A1A, south of the Sebastian Inlet, and has done so without incident for 20-some years.

Until Saturday.

That’s when Jose Ortiz told WPEC-TV 12 News that Joyce Khatibi, who owns property nearby in Vero Beach, started yelling at him from a dock and aimed a hose in his direction. She told him he can’t fish at his favorite spot anymore, “because she owns the water.”

Indian River County sheriff’s deputies were called and Ortiz was initially asked to leave when they looked at online property records. But a follow-up look at the records showed that Khatibi’s property line didn’t extend into the water, WPEC found.

The flap has now led to a planned “event” — Fish Joyce’s Dock — in which Ortiz has invited other fishermen to come join him out on the water at this location at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Ortiz, via the Fish Joyce’s Dock page, promises to stream video on Facebook Live and initially expected about 400 people to take up his call.

But the Facebook page now has more than 7,000 followers and a large number of fisherman, put off by Khatibi’s claim that she owns the water, vow to take part. On Thursday afternoon, Ortiz said he now expects about 700 to turn out.

A post, with a photo of the proposed meeting area, urges boaters to anchor within a specific square in the water, well away from docks and to avoid sending waves and wakes in the direction of the properties.

Fish Joyces Dock 319 post location.jpg
A map of a proposed fishermen protest planned for March 23, 2019, in Vero Beach on the Fish Joyce’s Dock Facebook page. Fish Joyce's Dock Facebokk

“Let’s maintain a safe distance and keep control of your vessel. Contact with docks would be a problem as this is property of the owner. This event is to show support for your fellow fisherman and your passion. ... We fish in peace,” the post reads.

A video of the exchange between the two, posted by Ortiz as Tony Toca on Facebook on March 16, shows the encounter that led to the proposed fishing event.

“I own from this telephone pole all the way down,” Khatibi says from the dock, gesturing across the water, in the video.

“All of this water is yours?” the fisherman asks.

“Yes,” Khatibi responds.

“Impossible. Impossible. Impossible. You don’t own the water, sweetheart,” Ortiz tells her.

“Yeah, we do,” she says.

The fisherman then says, “I’m going to make you famous” and asks her name, to which she responds, “Pepe Le Pew,” after the old Looney Tunes character.

At this point, Khatibi is spraying the water from a hose in the direction of Ortiz as they continue to bicker. She told the TV station she wasn’t directly spraying him, Click Orlando reported.

The exchange gets testy. Ortiz suggests she’s “rich” and “miserable.”

Memes floating around portray “Joyce” as the blindfolded character from the Netflix movie, “Bird Box.

Miami Herald Real Time/Breaking News reporter Howard Cohen, a 2017 Media Excellence Awards winner, has covered pop music, theater, health and fitness, obituaries, municipal government and general assignment. He started his career in the Features department at the Miami Herald in 1991.


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