Helping keep Cayman’s waters and shoreline clean just got a little easier in the Sister Islands.
The Department of Environment recently announced its fishing line collection project has expanded to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac. Small collection bins are now located at all the major dive shops, and large bins are at the DOE building in Blossom Village on Little Cayman, and next to Scotts Dock and Kitco Dock on the Brac.
The department is asking fishermen, divers, snorkelers and other members of the public to assist with this initiative by depositing line in the fishing line recycling bins. Line that is found wrapped around corals and sponges should be collected carefully in order to avoid damaging the marine environment.
DoE information on fishing line disposal notes that entanglement in lost or discarded fishing line is one of the most severe threats to juvenile turtles in the Cayman Islands, along with posing a hazard to other wildlife including birds.
“Fishing line is nearly invisible underwater and causes drowning and severe injuries when it tangles turtles,” the department states, adding that fishing line takes more than 600 years to degrade.
With sponsorship from Atlantis Submarines, poles donated by the Caribbean Utilities Company, and additional support from Cayman Turtle Farm, in 2015 the Department of Environment began installing fishing line collection bins at almost 40 sites, including public docks, dive shops and fishing supply stores across the three islands.
Designs from students Sarah Tatum, Aiden Powery and Jose Daniel Unruch, the winners of a poster competition, are featured on the bin signs.
Rather than ending up in the trash, the collected fishing line is recycled. “Even if unwanted fishing line is sent to the landfill, it can continue to entangle birds and other animals,” the DoE states.
Department staff and volunteers collect the recovered fishing line from the bins, which they then clean and send overseas for recycling where it is made into artificial fish habitats and tackle boxes.
Fishing line cleanup guidelines
In the Cayman Islands, entanglement in lost and discarded fishing line is one of the leading causes of severe injury and death for turtles. Entangled turtles die from injuries caused by loops of line tightening around their neck or flippers or drown when they cannot break lines to reach the surface.
Here’s how to prevent entanglements by removing line from the marine environment:
- Carry scissors or a dive knife to cut lines (scissors are more efficient and safer than knives).
- Make sure your tools are strong and sharp.Cut fishing line rather than pulling it, in order to avoid injuring your hands and damaging any corals and sponges that might be tangled in the line.
- If line has grown into corals and sponges do not try to pull it out – just cut any loose line on either side.
- Cut the line into manageable sections and coil it as you extract it to avoid getting tangled.
- If you are snorkeling, be ready to let the line loose as you go back to the surface to avoid pulling it. You can pick it up again when you dive back down.
- Hooks can still be attached to the line, so be careful while retrieving the line and also when transportng it (a solid bag or container for sharp objects may be useful).
- If you find a turtle tangled in fishing line, call DoE as soon as possible.
- If the turtle is found underwater, cut it free immediately to avoid drowning.
- If additional line is tightly wrapped around the flippers or neck (cutting into the flesh) it is best for a veterinarian to remove it and treat the turtle.
- Because turtles are a protected species, DoE should be called before transporting the turtle.
Source: Cayman Islands Department of Environment