Environmental health officials are investigating complaints about a “fishing camp” established on an empty plot amid canal-front condos in a plush residential neighborhood on the outskirts of George Town.
Residents on Marina Drive in Prospect have complained that the plot has become a squalid encampment for visiting Honduran fishermen during increasingly regular calls in port.
In a letter to the Department of Environmental Health, residents say the fishing operation has been “reluctantly tolerated” for around five years.
But they claim behavior from the fishermen – including late night drinking sessions, open-air bathing and even using the canal as a toilet – has escalated and could lead to serious health consequences.
“Things have come to a boil at the moment as feces are being detected in the canal, garbage is being dumped in the canal and a number of other anti-social actions and behavior are being observed,” the residents state in their letter.
David Watler, who owns the land and the fishing business – Just Seafood – said the fishermen spent much of their time at sea but used facilities on the plot, including portable toilets and a washing machine, when they were in port.
He said the men slept onboard the three boats, which use the site when they are bringing their catch to shore.
Victor Nairne, operations manager for the fishing business, said accusations that the men were defecating in the canal are not true. He acknowledged that shower facilities were not provided at the site but insisted it is otherwise similar to other fishing operations in the area.
Roydell Carter, director of the DEH, confirmed he had received a complaint about “various activities” on the property.
“The matter is currently under investigation by DEH and several other agencies to determine any violations and the required remedial actions, as necessary,” he told the Cayman Compass.
There were two boats docked at the site when the Compass visited last week. Trays of takeaway food and empty beer cans could be seen in the yard. A sofa, washing machine and trash bags full of clothes were lying on a wooden deck alongside a large, rusting generator. Two portable toilets were positioned on the far side of the yard. There was no sign of the crew of either boat at that time, and neighbors said they were likely sleeping below deck.
Residents in the neighborhood say there are several boats docked at the site almost all the time and up to 15 men on site at any one time. They say the business is unsuitable in the midst of a residential neighborhood.
“The location was never designed for such an operation. As we see it, a commercial fish operation cannot exist alongside households comprising young kids and families. Additionally, it was never zoned as such,” the residents wrote in the letter to the DEH.
The letter outlines various grievances, including the smell of fish and human waste, noise from the site, loud music late at night, claims that the crew are sleeping all over the property and creating a general mess of food cartons, beer cans and other garbage. The letter states that the boats were previously only in port occasionally to off-load their catch and refuel but were now spending more time at the site than in port.
It concludes, “We need some immediate relief. We would suggest that your officers visit the site with a cease and desist notice. We kindly ask your department’s advice in bringing this long outstanding infringement of our property rights to a close.”
Mr. Nairne said he thought the complaints were exaggerated. He said portable toilets were supplied for the men and insisted they pick up garbage and look after the site. He said the business was one of several fishing operations in the area and was no different than others.