Help sought in hunt for eagle ray poachers

Environment enforcement officers are seeking public assistance to catch rogue fishermen believed to be responsible for killing at least two eagle rays.

Mark Orr, chief enforcement officer at the Department of Environment, said there had been two confirmed incidents where eagle rays were killed by fishermen and had their wings sliced off.

He said there were anecdotal reports of two more eagle ray carcasses, similarly butchered, being discovered by fishermen.

When fisherman John Jefferson first made the gruesome discovery of the mutilated eagle ray in East End, Mr. Orr said he had never seen the protected species targeted in Cayman’s waters before.

At the time, he suggested, it was possible that the ray had been caught accidentally.

Now, after a second carcass was found in Bodden Town last week and fishermen reported other incidents, he said it was apparent someone was targeting the species.

“We have never seen this before, but apparently they are a food source in some cultures.

“We are asking the public to keep their eyes open and if they see anyone trying to catch a ray to call us immediately or call 911.

“Eagle rays are a type one protected species,” he said. “There is no excuse for it and it something that we would certainly pursue as a prosecution.”

He acknowledged that the original incident had sparked outrage in the community, particularly among divers, and urged the public to be vigilant to help catch poachers in the act.

He added, “I’m very concerned about it. Not only are they worth much more in the water from a tourism perspective, they are protected under the law. If someone is just ignorant of the law, we hope that the word gets out and that this stops now.

“Eagle rays and sharks are the two most common things cited by divers that they want to see in the water in Cayman. They are majestic in the water.”

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5 COMMENTS

    • I think that the government can be blamed all around for what is happening , because of the ineffective Laws that they put in place. If the Law gave more power to the department of who are responsible for enforcing the Law , it would be easier for the Officers to do their job . The Officers should have power to do a search at any time upon suspicion or information .

      A restaurant who buys illegal poachers catches should have to be fully responsible for supplies found in their possession, then if they can’t produce documentation , then the fine should be $10,000 .
      The person found poaching the endangered species / catch should be fined the same, or 5 years in prison , and no nice Judge should be alowed to hear these cases.
      Scallops , what are they made from ?

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  1. With all due respect to anyone who has made our Cayman Islands their home, and at risk of my following comments to be mis-interpreted as being xenophobic, I would join the view that this barbarity was committed by a person or persons who are not Caymanian. There are a plethora of marine life which Caymanians have never traditionally eaten, including rays. There are immigrants here who, culturally, consume all manner of sea creatures, “sea cucumbers”, “bleeding teeth”, “periwinkles” and other molluscs which have never been on Caymanians’ diets.

    This cultural affinity is compounded by the fact that many guest workers are paid such low wages that, by the time they send their remittances back home (the reason they’re working here in the first place), they have little left to live on and thus forage for anything they can get for free. This includes juvenile fish, other sea-life, wild birds (yes) and wild chickens. I for one, wish they would target iguanas instead!

    While we can all demand better enforcement, to the degree which is directed toward Caymanian turtle, conch and lobster poachers (at what could be considered an unbalanced level), clearly enforcement will not address the issue in full. As a solution I’m not sure what would ultimately be effective. Suggestions could include that minimum-wage guest workers are actively educated on our cultural and legal norms (logistically demanding and perhaps ultimately ineffective); that the same low-paid workers are paid better so as to discourage them from “foraging” (unlikely to happen); that more rigid enforcement is implemented (always subject to resources) or at the other end of the spectrum, we, as a country at large and in particular our elected leaders and community leaders, strive to improve education opportunities & standards, employment opportunities and work ethic attitudes for Caymanians who would vie for menial/lower-wage jobs, so as to reduce the need for imported low-wage labour. So far, no Government has embraced this with any fervour, however, with such a cultural shift on the part of ourselves, Caymanians, we could perhaps address many of the ills affecting our society.

    Perhaps I’m rambling or it’s the effect of my rose-coloured glasses.

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  2. I think we should not be pointing fingers until the perpetrator is caught! To say the barbarity was committed by a person or persons who are not Caymanian is definitely xenophobic. At this point, it could be anyone. Let’s focus and catching the person or persons responsible rather than pointing fingers when we do not know in which direction we should be pointing.

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  3. Yes Kelly is right, we all need to stop pointing the finger , and keep our eyes and ears open to catch this criminal , and take your information to Police , not facebook or the marl road . Like I said before one that would do something that barbaric should be punished to the extent of the Law , regardless of who it is.

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