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May 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 5   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Ghost Net Massacres, Cayman Marine Life

from the May, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Fishing nets abandoned in the sea trap fish and may float for years, trapping more daily. Divers from Stingray Watersports encountered such a ghost fishing net off Grand Cayman on April 16.

The huge number of dead animals it had trapped suggests it had been drifting in the Caribbean for many months. It contained more than 30 sharks and hundreds of other decomposing fish. Mature sergeant majors were probably trapped as juveniles, and had grown up within a year or more. The scent trail attracted more fish that were in danger of getting trapped, as well.

The divers were unable to tow the heavy net, so an air and sea search was instigated to relocate it, but it was a fisherman who came across it again four days later, when it snagged a reef at Rum Point.

After securing it to a mooring, it was towed back to Grand Cayman where it was removed and taken to a landfill. Most likely, the long gillnet was cut loose by illegal fishermen fleeing a coastguard patrol boat.

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