DoE says discardedfishing lines threaten marine life

| 04/02/2010

(CNS): Following a recent rescue of a hawksbill turtle which became tangled in discarded fishing line at the Sundivers “Turtle Reef” dive site in West Bay, the Department of Environment (DoE) is asking those out on the water to take more care with their fishing lines and nets. Entangled turtles usually die from injuries caused by loops of line tightening around their flippers—or drown when they cannot break lines to reach the surface. Although in the most recent case DoE divers were able to save the turtle, the department says entanglement in lost fishing line is one of the leading causes of severe injury and death for turtles. (Picture Grahman Harris).

During the recent incident the line had tangled round the turtle’s flippers but divers found the turtle on the reef at a depth of 60 ft and were able to free it. But as a result of the numbers of incidents the DoE is partnering with Cayman Wildlife Rescue are partnering in an awareness campaign aimed at reducing this threat to this already endangered creatures.

If people see a tangled or hooked turtle they are being asked to call the DoE or Cayman Wildlife immediately. (See full contact details at the bottom of this article)

The DoE said people who are out fishing can help to prevent entanglement through responsible practices and asked them not to discard tangled fishing line into the sea or to leave lines unattended and to use non-stainless circle hooks. These degrade more quickly thanstainless steel and are less likely to gut hook an animal. The DoE also warned people no not rip out hooks or leave hooked animals in the wild but to call for assistance with any hook removal, rehabilitation, and release.

Divers and snorkelers can also help by collecting lost fishing lines and are asked to cut lines as pulling lines could damage tangled corals and sponges. The DoE is also asking divers and snorkelers to spread the word about the importance of collecting lost line and contact us for information on arranging a fishing line clean-up.

People walking on the beach can also help by picking up fishing line washed up on onshore and by report injured or dead wildlife.


DoE Grand Cayman: 949-8469 or 916-4271, Cayman Brac: 926-0136 or 926-2342, Little Cayman: 916-7021 or 926-2342 General: 949-8469 or

Cayman Wildlife Rescue Hotline: 917-BIRD(2473), Website:


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  1. Anonymous says:

    The problem is more likely caused by the habit of indiscriminately dumping fishing line off a reel at the end of a day of fishing if the line is chaffed.  It is a another example of being lazy and using the ocean as a dumping ground.

    Fishing line of that size and length is not normally used for fishing off the shore line.

  2. Recently Enlightened says:

    This does appear to be a serious problem. The majority of fishermen do not take responsibility for lost lines. They seem to take the position of "oh #@%!, now I need to buy another lure or more line". Several weeks ago a friend and I brought up and entire spool of wire line that was spread out hooked in rocks on the bottom.

  3. GR says:

    Well done to the DoE divers for saving this turtle!

  4. Anonymous says:

    It’s worth pointing out that entanglement in fishing line is also a major hazard for divers.  Few divers carry knives here and it is all but impossible to break strong line. The fact that line can be (depending on conditions) almost impossible to spot underwater only adds to the danger. 

  5. Anonymous says:

    It is extremely sad that this sort of behaviour is allowed to occur.


    DOE/Marine Patrol has done nothing to enforce non-licensed individuals from illegally fishing daily across the island.

    If DOE/Marine Patrol did their jobs and these people were fined there would be a lot more $ in their coffers to enable further enforcement, not to mention generations of fish allowed to continue on and thrive.

    • Bobby Anonymous says:

      I don’t see no fish across the Island? They in the water! and don’t people fish "FROM" the Island? It seems silly to fish across it.

      Hey, am I smart or what?

  6. John Evans says:

    Nothing new here.

    I lost count of how much fishing line I bought back while diving Grand Cayman. It’s a simple problem – people fish off the shore or over the reefs, the hook catches in something so they either break or cut the line leaving the rest in the water.

    And there’s an equally simple solution – ban fishing from the shore or from boats inshore from the wall and enforce that ban. 

    • Anonymous says:

      One of the things I do while diving is to clean up the reef and I have recovered 1,000s of feet of fishing line over the years. I once recovered a solid wire line of about 400 feet used instead of regular fishing line.

      Once I found a reef crab caught in a fishing line and trapped, I cut it free and it bolted.

      Yesterday on the North Wall I found a fiberglass insert bait box for a boat that was on the reef, thrown overboard by someone. It was about 3 feet by 3 feet by 2 feet. Countless beer bottles and cans make a dive site look tacky.

      Many who fish do not care.