A fishing device with a ghost net, measuring a total length of 877 feet, was found floating off George Town harbour Tuesday.

While it is unclear if any marine animals were discovered in the device, which was described as a fish aggregating device (FAD), the Department of Environment said the discovery is troubling.

“Our concern is obviously that marine life will become entangled in these nets,” a DoE spokesman told the Cayman Compass Wednesday.

The DoE spokesman said one cargo net or ‘ghost net’ was attached to the FAD which was found floating in the water.

“Both devices are dangerous for marine life,” the spokesman said.

Mark Orr, DoE chief conservation officer, said the device and net were found floating in the harbour behind one of the cruise ships.

“Harbour patrol officers from the Port Authority found what appeared to be a broken-away FAD made up of several buoys, pieces of cargo net and a long rope, drifting off of George Town harbour Tuesday morning and reported it to the Department of Environment.

Conservation officers responded and removed the FAD from the water,” he said.

The Port Authority kept watch on the net until DoE officers arrived and pulled it from the water onto their boat.

“The FAD would have been a serious threat to our marine life, including coral reefs, if it had become entangled around the coral,” Orr added.

The origin of the device is unknown but it is believed to have floated for many miles in the open ocean.

While the total length was 877 feet, when stretched out on a singe line, it reached more than 2,100 feet.

“When people find these things, if they can safely remove them – go ahead. If not, please contact the DoE conservation unit at 916-4271 and we will go out to retrieve it,” the DoE said.

Ghost nets are not new to Cayman waters and have often left a trail of death in their wake. In 2018, one of the largest ghost nets on record was discovered floating in Cayman’s waters.

The tangled weighted netting spanned 40 feet across and was an estimated 40 feet deep. Various species of animals, including sharks and turtles, were found trapped in the net.

Some of those animals were so badly decomposed, it was impossible to tell what species they were.
Photographs of that net drew international attention.
In that instance, local fishermen spotted the net and alerted the DoE.

If you value our service, if you have turned to us in the past few days or weeks for verified, factual updates, if you have watched our live streaming of press conferences or sent an article to a friend... please consider a donation. Quality local journalism was at risk before the coronavirus crisis. It is now deeply threatened. Even a small amount can go a long way to sustaining our mission of informing the public. We need our readers’ financial support now more than ever.