Today’s Editorial July 08: Fishermen urged to clean up

Should the Cayman Islands go the way of gulf coastal states of the United States in banning stainless steel hooks?

If we want to protect our marine life, then the answer is yes.

Fishermen like using stainless steel hooks because they do not rust. Fishing gear is expensive and replacing rusting hooks in the tackle box can be costly.

But it is the fact that stainless steel hooks don’t rust that is causing the problem.

Stainless steel hooks become a problem when fish break away from the line, leaving the hook stuck in their mouth. The hooks don’t rust and can cause the fish to starve to death.

Stainless steel hooks have also been found in dead or weak sharks, dolphins and turtles. These animals, like the fish, could not eat because of the hooks and either died or became so weak that they became victims to predators.

Corrodible hooks will rust, hopefully quickly enough for the fish and animals to survive.

We checked with fishing supply retailers on Grand Cayman and all carry supplies of corrodible hooks.

But hooks aren’t the only man-made threat to marine life.

Fishing line can also mean a death sentence to marine fish and animals.

Most fishermen we know of are responsible enough to gather broken line and properly dispose of it in a garbage bin.

Unfortunately there isn’t much that can be done for line that gets caught on the seabed or reefs and breaks.

Fortunately our diving community does a good job of picking fishing line and hook debris on the ocean floor and on our reefs.

But there is still too much fishing refuse on our beaches and in our waters.

To that end Cayman Wildlife Rescue, along with the Department of Environment, will begin a campaign this month in an effort to convince fishermen to retrieve fishing lines and hooks that can injure and kill wildlife.

The poster campaign will feature photos of turtles entangled in plastic fishing lines and caught on steel hooks.

The pictures aren’t pretty, but neither is the problem of discarded hooks and line.

Alison Corbett of Cayman Wildlife Rescue has it right: fishermen do need to watch for dropped lines and clean up after themselves.

It’s all a part of protecting our environment for each of us and future generations to enjoy.

breakout

Stainless steel hooks become a problem when fish break away from the line, leaving the hook stuck in their mouth. The hooks don’t rust and can cause the fish to starve to death.

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